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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Human trafficking and prostitution

This past year I noticed some new mandatory posters in brothels in Melbourne: they are aimed at working girls, explaining what human trafficking means and urging the victims to contact the police.
There are also a lot more immigration rades on the parlours, in search for girls working illegally.
In Australia, this problem has mostly to do with Chinese nationals (they comprise the biggest percentage of both victims and perpetrators).
However, human trafficking is not a new phphenomenon: it's been around for a long time.
So called Russian "entrepreneurs" got on that band wagon decades ago.
I came in close contact with someone affiliated with it many years  ago, when I was working in one of Las Vegas Casino's restaurants as a waitress.

That guy's name was Darius: he was hired as a busboy for our restaurant. When I introduced myself, he immediately realised I was Russian (my strong accent always gives me away) and told me he was originally from Lithuania (used to be one of the Republics and a part of Russia). Darius spoke fluent Russian and we often took our lunch breaks together so we could chat in our native language.
Darius was young-early 20's. He told me about his mandatory two years in Russian army and how they were sent to Baku (my hometown). I couldn't believe it-I got to know someone who could give me a glimpse of what was really going on back then from the government/army point of view (see my post "How I Survived The War").
What I found odd about Darius is that he was very ambiguous about his past, about how he came to be in US and what he did for a living in Chicago (that's where he used to live prior to Vegas). He rode a bicycle to work (didn't have a car),lived in an apartment, had a job as a busboy (lowest on a hospitality totem pole), yet he carried not one, but two pagers AND a cellphone on him at all times.
Back then cellphones were still quite bulky and airtime cost a lot of money, so they weren't quite so widespread and common.
I asked Darius about the pagers and he just said that he "wants to be in touch" with his friends.
One day,as we were having lunch, Darius asked me if I still had friends in Russia. I explained to him that I didn't, not really, as I went to school and Uni in Baku and my parents lived in Moscow, so I was really "disconnected": I never had any friends in Moscow (didn't live there long enough to make any) and due to separation of Azerbaijan, lost all contact with people I knew there.
But Darius wasn't satisfied with that answer. He told me that he has a plan: he knew how we (him and I) could make a lot of money and it would be so easy,too.
Even back then, I was already jaded enough to know that there is no such thing as "free lunch", but I was willing to listen.
The plan was as follows: my parents (who lived in Moscow) were to advertise in a newspaper or magazine for "available work in America" for young attractive women. They were to tell the girls that it would be "hostess" work in hospitality industry.
Upon girl's arrival to Las Vegas, Darius and I were to put them up in a flat (rented by us specifically for that purpose), take their passports away and tell them they have to pay us $100/day (from each girl) for "housing and maintenance".
Darius told me that he has an "in" with the owner of one of the major strip clubs in Las Vegas (Crazy Horse-I always knew that place was up to no good). He could get girls jobs in there, by-passing the whole "Sheriff's Card" procedure and then it would be a sweet deal for all concerned: him and I would be making "easy money" and the girls would keep everything they earned on the top of $100/day to themselves.
Darius had no idea that I was working as a stripper and a prostitute as well as waitressing. The whole scenario made me sick!
I told him him  I wasn't comfortable with the plan. He insisted that I should think about it. He kept saying "it works, trust me, I've done this with people in Chicago", which actually made me not trust him at all (Chicago is a well-known American mafia hub with extensively documented and long-term ties to Las Vegas).

Some time passed and I forgot all about that conversation. One day I was sitting in employee cafeteria, deep in thought: I was going through a really rough divorce with husband#3 (haven't gotten around to writing about that asshole yet). Daruis joined me and asked what was wrong.
I've explained the situation to him: husband tried to attack me, broken into my house a month after he moved out, refuses to cooperate in divorce proceedings, demands money from me (bloody story of my life)etc,etc,etc. Darius got a very thoughtful look and then said "Do you want me to get rid of him for you?". Just like that, as though he offered me a stick of gum.
I asked him what he meant. He said:"You know, get rid of him,had him killed". We were speaking Russian, so no one could understand us and still, I automatically looked around.
"What the hell are you talking about?!" I hissed "Are you crazy?!". He said:"Oh, don't be like that. Are you a Russian or not. You know it would be the fastest and easiest way to solve all your problems. It'll only (only!!!) cost you $10K, we'll make sure you got an alibi for the time of the murder and I'll make it look like it was a random robbery/attack gone too far".
I have to be completely honest: for a moment, for a split second, a had a fleeting thought of how nice it would be if Bob (my ex-husband) was just gone. He will never know how close he actually came to his "brush with death".
Ultimately,of course, I wasn't even going to entertain the thought. I told Darius "no" and that was that.
I tried to stay away from him in the next few weeks,as I had a strange feeling-one of my "foreboding" ones. I pay a lot more attention to those now.

About a month later the restaurant manager came up to me in the kitchen and asked  if I knew anything about Darius' or his whereabouts: apparently he pulled a "no-call,no-show" at work for three straight days. I really didn't know (as Daruis and I never socialised or saw each other outside of work-I didn't even know where he lived). That was that and after another couple of days he was fired "De facto" (as he wasn't there to be served with his "pink slip").

Another few weeks went by and suddenly Darius was all over the news: his body was found in the lake (Lake Mead), with some water still in his lungs (which means he was alive when he went or was put under the water). Investigation ensued and it was confirmed that Darius did, in fact, had ties with Chicago mob: as a matter of fact, that's why he got a busboy job,wouldn't buy a car (so he didn't have to register it) and generally kept low profile. He skimmed some money from their human trafficking business in there and was trying to set up his own shop in Las Vegas!
I honestly don't know what that boy was thinking! Did he really believe that he could get away with that?! Did he think he was insignificant enough for the mafia not to "bother" and let him just abscond with the money?!
One thing is for sure: my guardian angel must been sitting on my shoulder during that time,as I steered clear of any and all involvement with him and even refused his repeat invitations to come over to his place (it was nothing sexual,actually, I think he was genuinely lonely and wanted someone from his Motherland to talk to).

Life is stranger than fiction sometimes.

P.S. After I posted this entry,out of curiousity, I googled "Darius Lake Mead  Las Vegas". Apparently, he is still on LVMPD's (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department) website under "cold cases 1990-1999". His full name is Darius Kavalyauskas,aged 24. Coroner listed the cause of death as "asphyxia caused bt forced drowning". Looking at his photo sent shivers down my spine.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Arranged marriages and restoration of virginity (hymenorrhaphy)

I was born and spend my school/Uni years in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. Back then Azerbaijan was the part of Soviet Socialist Republics (former "Russia" as everyone knew it). It is now an independent country.
Azerbaijan was populated mostly by Muslims. There were plenty of other nationalities,of course, and everyone got along splendidly back in those days, but Muslim influences were predominant.
All the other nationalities were affected by those influences, subconsciously adopting traditions, views and mentality.
For instance, wearing very short dresses/skirts would attract attention on the street and not a nice kind:there would be nasty comments from men and disgusted looks from women.
It took a long time for it to be acceptable for women to wear pants.
It was extremely rare for women to drive cars.
It was frown upon for women to smoke, especially in public places... Etc,etc,etc.

Arranged marriage is part of Muslim culture. It was very common in my home town.
In small villages, parents discussed the future of their children when the kids were barely in their teens. Girls were promised to the boy's parents and deals were made. No one asked the future bride or groom.
In a relatively big city (which Baku was) things were slightly different. Marriages were arranged for either political or financial reasons, or both. Parents wanted to combine wealth. They didn't want their son or daughter to marry a "peasant" or a "pauper".
Girls were groomed for marriage from an early age. Even education had a sole purpose of "bettering the value" of the bride. Those Uni diplomas the girls got were often framed and hanged on the wall, just for show, much like a prized cow certificates. Most of the girls never worked in the fields they were educated in: they stayed at home: cooking,cleaning and raising children.
Parents looked for  suitable candidates among their friends and associates and then introduced future bride and groom. Sometimes there was a genuine spark between the two, sometimes there was none: either way, if parents "shook on it", their kids destine to marry.
No one really questioned it, it was the way of life.
There were some traditions that went along with that.
First of all, a big engagement party was an absolute must. It was all about "the show of wealth".
It was usually held at bride's parents house.
As most people lived in flats in high-rises back then, it was a big show, most of it for the benefit of the neighbours.
Groom and his extended family would arrive in cars (or taxis),accompanied by a live band,playing loud music. They would have trays full of "gifts". That was mandatory: the more trays, the wealthier the groom, the more envious the neighbours. Gifts would include all the things that were hard to get in Soviet Russia (or too expensive for an average person): gold jewellery,french perfume, cuts of expensive fabrics,Italian shoes,brand name handbags,etc.
Great show would be put on by carrying the trays slowly inside, to give neighbours the chance to see the goodies.
Inside, bride's parents would have a table set up (everything back then was a "sit down" dinner:there was no such thing as "buffet") laden with food and wines. Quality of the food was carefully noted by groom's parents. For instance, one couldn't just fill the space with potatoes and breads. Sturgeon, black and red caviar, various meats were in abundance.
Party would go on until the wee hours of the morning.

Every girl was expected to have a "dowry". From very early age, parents would buy and put things away for that purpose. Dowry items would include finest Egyptian cotton sheets (available ONLY on the "black market" in Soviet Russia back then), duvets,china services,silver cutlery sets, even furniture and possibly a car in extremely wealthy families cases. Dowry would be carefully inspected and appraised by in-laws upon new bride's arrival into her new home after the marriage.

The marriage itself carried a lot of traditions. One of them was that bride was presumed to be a virgin. There was no any other option.
To signify the purity of the bride, a red satin ribbon was worn around her waist (over the white wedding gown).
After the wedding reception, groom would take his new wife into the bedroom in his family home. Entire family would be eagerly awaiting just outside the door. Once the groom broke the hymen, he would produce the blood-stained sheet and it would be proudly paraded in front of the family, neighbours and all the guests.
Yes,barbaric and hard to believe that it was happening not so long ago in otherwise civilised country, but it was what it was.
You can only imagine all the stuff that went along with that particular tradition.
Stories were floating around about star-crossed lovers who couldn't contain their passion before the wedding,thus robbing the bride of her virginity. The groom, who was much in love, but didn't want to "bring shame" on his and bride's family, would cut his finger in the bedroom on the night of the wedding to produce the blood necessary "for show"...
More often than not it was far less romantic. Although promiscuity wasn't a common occurrence, girls (or women) did make "mistakes": they went to bed with someone other than their "intended" husband before  marriage or simply fell in love with someone only to be told by the family that he is "not worthy" and ordered to marry someone else.
Hymenorrhaphy (or hymenoplasty) was extremely popular procedure.
Everything was owned by the State back then, so all medical services were free. Hymenoplasty wasn't supported by the State and wasn't offered/done in the clinics.
Besides, not being a virgin while unmarried was a great shame and a big secret.
Female gynecologists (skilled and enterprising ones) were making a fortune performing those procedures in their own homes or in the clinics where they worked (after hours, of course).
To give you an idea, average skilled worker (engineer, for instance) was making about $110 roubles a month. Hymenoplasty cost about $200 roubles or more.
It was all very hush-hush, through the word of the mouth (naturally, no one actually advertised those services).
It wasn't hymenoplasty of the modern day,either. Hymen wasn't replaced by an artificial membrane. Instead, flap of the vaginal lining,with it's own blood supply,was sutured.
As you can imagine, first-time intercourse was extremely painful under those circumstances, but it also seemed more "authentic",as the girl would scream in pain, REAL pain.
Girls didn't gossip about their sexual escapades back then, not really. Sleeping around, or even having sex with one's fiancee before marriage was considered taboo and bad behaviour. Girl would be labeled a "slut" and loose all hope of finding a husband, which was the sole purpose of her existence in that culture.
Yes, of course girls had sex out of marriage. But it was rarely talked about, even with one's best friends (best friend could turn into rival and bitter enemy at some point and use those secrets as their ammunition).
Blatantly ignoring "the rules" had severe repercussions.
One of the girls at my Uni was well-known as "easy". She dated a number of guys, all the while being engaged to a dentist her parents "promised" her to. She thought she could get away with it.
In all fairness, that dentist was much older and quite unattractive. He was also clearly after the girl's family money and her dowry that included a brand new expensive car (meant for him, of course). He himself was sleeping around. But we all know about those double standards: if a guy sleeps around, he is a "stud", if a girl does the same, she is a "slut".
Still, Nargis (that was the girl's name) didn't think there would be a problem,as wedding preparations were going ahead. She didn't bother with hymenoplasty: she figured all the guy wanted was money and a "token" wife..
Finally, the big day came. There were many guests, lavish ceremony. Nargis wore a red ribbon around her waist, captured in many,many photographs (I've seen most of them).
I don't know what went on in the bedroom that night-Nargis never wanted to talk about it. All we knew is that the groom drugged her  through the streets by her hair the next morning to her parents house and "returned" her, as "damaged goods". Apparently, he expected a virgin and would take nothing less.
To Nargis' credit, she actually returned to school, albeit after a month's break. Baku was a small town and that kind of gossip traveled fast: by the time she was back in class, the whole Uni knew what has happened.
Although people weren't pointing fingers, there were whispers and sidelong glances. Nargis had to endure those for the next 2 years, until she graduated. Her only hope of ever finding a husband was to move away. Far,far away. I don't know if she ever did.

Nationality was of great importance as well. Although "mixed" marriages existed, they were not the norm.
Mostly, people tended to marry "their own": Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Russians,etc.
A couple of my friends run into serious trouble falling in love with someone of a different nationality.
My friend Svetalana, who was part Russian, part Armenian was in the same class with me. Her father was dead and her mother was struggling trying to make the ends meet.
Svetlana met and fell in love with Azerbaijani guy. His family was wealthy. The two of them truly believed that his parents would ultimately want their son to be happy (idealism of youth-they thought love would triumph, no matter what). Nothing could be further from the truth. His family warned him in no uncertain terms to break off the relationship and when he refused, they disowned him. For real and completely. Young couple was left penniless and with no place to live ( see my other posts about a funny system of housing assignment in Russia back then). Svetlana and her boyfriend got married anyway: they had a civil ceremony, no reception. Even her getting pregnant did not melt in-laws hearts: they refused to help or see the baby. I don't know if that marriage made it long-term:I left the country shortly after graduating.
My other friend, who happened to be a talented hair stylist and made quite a good living, found herself in a similar situation. Would you believe that mother of the guy she was dating actually came to her salon to "have a look" and "appraise" her-much like a merchandise, to consider whether or not they should "bend the rules" and allow "other blood" in the family.

Yes, things were different back then. I don't know if they got better or,in fact, deteriorated now-I haven't been back in my hometown in over two decades.
Now, that I am older and,hopefully, wiser, I look back and appreciate those experiences. They taught me the value of acceptance, of freedom, of being able to be who you are without fear.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pitfalls of Courtesan's life: client turning into a stalker

Unfortunately, this happens a lot more often than most people imagine :(
This is my “stalker story”.

I’ve met this guy in a small town’s parlour in New Zealand, when I first moved here (about 4 years ago).

He looked very safe and didn’t set off any alarm bells or red flags: tall, reasonably fit, 64 years old with full head of grey hair. He was mild mannered and polite, reasonably well educated. He looked like someone’s grandpa.

He didn’t want anything out of the ordinary in a booking, just a straight lay with a bit of a blow job.
He had to put a plastic ring on his penis right at the start of the service to keep it hard, but that’s nothing unusual.

Parlour owner (a very nice lady whom I became friendly with) knew this guy, as he was a regular and sometimes exchanged his maintenance services (he was an electrician) for a booking: Jackie (the owner) would pay girl’s cut out of her pocket and got all the wiring/installation/fixing done in her place by Peter (that’s the guy’s name) in exchange. It was a sweet deal for all concerned.

Peter was from Switzerland and spoke with noticeable accent (although he’s been in NZ for decades).
When Jackie decided to close down the parlour,retire and move away, Peter asked me if I’d be willing to visit him in his house for the same amount I normally received as my “cut” at the parlour.
I didn’t see any problem with that, Jackie was happy that her girls and clients are getting sorted and so it went.

Peter would text me approximately once a week and arrange the day/time for a visit. It was easy, steady and painless gig: the whole thing took barely half an hour, usually, and that’s including a chat and a cup of tea/glass of bubbles on my arrival.
This went on for almost a year.

Chatting with Peter was a bit of a strain, as we had nothing in common really and no similar interests, but I always made an effort.
I try to make clients feel good and as a pro always play into their fantasies.

Peter was asking me about my life in US and my investments there. He also asked some personal questions, but I didn’t mind: I don’t have any scary “skeletons” in the closet. He told me about his life, ex-wife,kids,their marriages.

Sometimes he would book me around breakfast time on Sat or Sun and upon arrival I would find a nice breakfast set out for 2 of us (he lived alone-was separated from his wife, he said).

Peter told me that he was taking amateur cooking classes at local school and asked if I would like to come and sample his cooking sometime. I agreed on 2 occasions-I wanted to make an effort for a regular customer. Besides, if we ended up having sex, he would still pay me my regular rate.

One time he asked me if I’d accompany him to his company’s X-Mas Party. I politely declined,as I really felt uncomfortable doing that.

I told Peter I like visiting Rotorua (famous NZ natural mineral springs resort) and one day he asked if he could go with me.

After careful consideration, I agreed: he drove and paid for petrol, hotel and the meals. In exchange, I had sex with him once. I paid for my own mud spa treatment and mineral pools entrance. I never rip my clients off and I am not money hungry: I try to be reasonable with my pricing. I felt it was Ok deal for both of us, as I would go to Rotorua regardless of whether or not he went with me, so I incurred less expenses and figured those into overall price calculations.
We took 2 of those trips in a span of 8 months.

On a  second trip Peter wanted to tell me a story: he said he wanted my opinion on the subject.
The story sounded true, yet bizarre.

According to Peter, he used to see a working girl on a regular basis (much like he did with me) 2 years ago. Back then he was still married and lived with his wife in a very nice and posh house up on the Hill (in that particular town there are “hill” people and “flat” people..LOL..).

He described the girl as young, in her early 20′s. Apparently, the girl would come over his house once a week for a session of paid sex. Peter said he always “did business” in a downstairs guest bedroom (vs. master bedroom where him and his wife slept), but the girl often wanted to take a shower and had to do so in a master bedroom,as there was no shower downstairs.

According to Peter, the girl was stealing his wife’s jewellery during those shower trips. He said he didn’t suspect anything for a long time,as his wife had a lot of jewellery and often misplaced it.
But  one day  wife was bound and determined on wearing a certain piece and just couldn’t find it. They suspected the lady who came to clean the house at first (or so Peter said).
After much deliberating, they filed a claim with the insurance company.

In the meantime, Peter “suddenly” realised that it COULD be that working girl he was seeing… So he planted $280 of Australian money left from the trip overseas into a nightstand in the master bedroom.
According to him, when the working girl was finished with her shower, $140 of it was gone.
He confronted the girl, she denied taking it,started crying,blah,blah,blah…

Peter was convinced that she had taken the jewellery as well. He asked her to return it. She denied having it (again, according to him).

Two days later the girl filed a complaint with the police: she said that Peter GAVE her the jewellery as presents at various times, she surrendered ALL of it to the police and asked for their protection and a restraining order against Peter: according to her, he was stalking her and she had a boyfriend and a regular job and just wanted him to stay away. Prior to going to the police, the girl supposedly went to Peter’s workplace (it was a small town,you can’t hide in there) and asked his boss to keep him from harassing her.

All this had devastating effect on Peter: insurance company nearly put him in jail for fraudulent claim, his wife separated from him, he was forced to buy a small house in the “flats” for himself, he nearly lost his job.

Peter said that all he wanted was for that girl to contact his wife and tell her that she did, in fact, took the jewellery without permission and it wasn’t a gift from Peter.
I thought the story was a bit strange and some things didn’t add up.

For instance, I knew for a fact that Peter and his ex-wife maintained a civil, mutually agreeable, friendly relationship: they occasionally went to functions together, he helped her maintaining the house, she fed his cat when he was away, they talked on the phone frequently and they were NOT getting legally divorced to avoid financial implications. So why did it matter what the girl said (or didn’t say)-it’s been almost 2 years?

Another thing was jewellery itself: if the girl stole it, wouldn’t she sell/pawn it in some big city, to avoid being caught? Why surrender it to the police, when she wasn’t even a suspect and hasn’t been questioned?And why would she go to Peter’s boss?

He kept asking me what I thought and I made all the appropriate sympathetic noises (again, I really try to treat my clients nicely)… But I had my doubts. I wasn’t at all sure why he told me about the whole thing in the first place. I just chucked it to him being lonely and needing to talk.

During one of my visits to his house, Peter approached me with a proposition. He explained that he had to charge his daughter’s wedding onto his credit card ($20K) and was paying it off, but the interest rates in NZ were really high-19%. He asked if he could borrow $10K from me and repay it over 10 months with 10% interest. That way I would make some money and he would save some.
I told him I would think about it.
After a week or so I agreed to do it, but wanted proper papers signed, notarised and witnessed. Peter had no problem with that.

He was re-paying me faithfully each month (of course, I had to come over to collect the money and we would turn it into “appointment”, for which he also paid me, in addition to interest :)- it was his idea. In fact, he insisted on doing it that way. Now I realise that was his way of keeping me close.

By then (almost 2 years since I first met Peter) he also started having strange conversations with me. He’d ask me if I liked him. Of course, I always said I did (dah…He was a good regular client..LOL..). Then he told me that he came across an ad in the newspaper, looking for a “couple” for a business opportunity. He suggested the two of us might go into business together. My response was vague-I didn’t want to do it.

The other time he asked me if I could help him to re-decorate his house. I ignored that as well.
He asked me to teach him how to navigate a computer (said he was computer illiterate). I kept making soothing noises, but never done it.

During those 2 years I have separated from my husband and moved out on my own. It wasn’t any kind of secret or a big drama, so I’ve told Peter about it. I asked him to put some extra power points into my new house and do some other electrical things and I paid him with my services for that: it was well-structured and all the costs and regular pricing were taken into consideration.

In retrospect, I did see all the signs: he constantly asked me if I “liked” him, if I found him attractive, he tried to get me to go out with him, he kept showing me different newspaper clippings about “couples needed” for various business ventures… He even ordered a reading from a fortune teller from Australia for both of us and tried to point out the similarities to me! I pretended not to notice any of his “romantic” advances and was hoping that he’d “get a hint”- I was NOT in the slightest bit interested in anything other than PROFESSIONAL relationship.

I certainly wasn’t telling him I was gay,  in love with and  dating a woman (seems to be an ego-buster for a lot of older clients, while most young and middle-aged ones find it a turn-on).

To be honest, after I’ve analysed the whole thing carefully, me cutting all ties with him earlier wouldn’t help-it would’ve only accelerated what happened next.

I got a text from Peter one day cancelling our appointment. It was a bit unusual, but I didn’t really spend any time thinking about it. He called me the next day and re-scheduled. When I showed up at his house, he told me a very strange story.

He said  he was arrested the day before and kept in a police station overnight.
According to him, he was working (doing his electrical stuff) on the street and was using his own car (normally he used a fully equipped van his Company provided for him). He was going back and forth to the car for his tools when police pulled over. They informed him that they received a complained from the parents of two teenage girls in the neighbourhood: supposedly Peter threatened them with a pocket knife and chased after them.

Peter said that the knife in question was a key-chain Swiss knife (I saw it on his key-chain before-it was small and not at all lethal) and he didn’t even see those girls, he was just going back and forth to the car with his keys in hand.

Apparently police treated him roughly, arrested him and then let him out without giving him his shoes back. They also searched his house, confiscated his cellphone and computer hard drive.
At first, I was outraged with the police: how could they violate someone’s rights so blatantly! Although they charged him with 2 counts of assault, the girls were nowhere near him (and they didn’t deny it).
Peter’s story seemed to make sense-but that’s because he didn’t tell me all of it.

When Peter was arraigned, he didn’t apply for a name suppression-he didn’t want to pay his lawyer extra money, plus he told me that he was innocent and had nothing to hide.
When I read the article in the local newspaper the next day, some doubts were stirring inside my head.

First of all, they gave the location of alleged crime-and it was MY street,right at the end of it! Second, the time of the incident was specified as 5:30pm. But Peter always finished work by 4pm, as he started at 6:30am. And he was in his OWN car, not the company van, where he had all his tools and equipment.That van was always parked at his house-he never had to leave it at work. Then there was a mention of binoculars-apparently a pair of those was found in Peter’s car and it was “significant”(according to the article), although it didn’t specify why.
I felt a bit uneasy about the whole thing, but Peter kept professing his innocence and police was really focusing on the little girls and assault…

A week later Peter showed me a letter from his employer: he was discharged for the “conduct unbecoming” and there was some mention of this not “being the first time” and “repeat offense”. I asked him about that, but he explained it away: apparently he yelled at boss’s son a year before and was mean to him… Hmmmm…

Court date was set for 3 months away. Peter continued booking me (and paying,of course)… He constantly hinted about being suicidal (without actually saying the word) and telling me how he “needs to work to survive”.
Finally, he flat out asked me if I could get him a job in a restaurant where I worked. I told him as he had no hospo skills or training, kitchen hand (dishwasher) was his only option. He said he’d take anything.
So, silly me (I wanted to be nice and help him out), I got him a job.

As my sexual orientation was not at all a secret at work, he figured things out pretty quickly, yet said nothing to me. I realise now that he was just trying to get closer to me.

I wasn’t dating anyone at the time, actually-was still pretty heartbroken over Sara (“The One”), but I did have a really good female friend, Pip, who worked as a Chef in that restaurant.
Funny thing is, Pip is self-proclaimed “straightest” person ever: she doesn’t have the slightest desire to “experiment” with women or explore any “bi” tendencies. In fact, she gets quite annoyed when people tease her about possibility of being gay. Yet, she does have that “hard butch” look about her (I think that’s why people make assumptions)
.
At any rate, Pip and I have never been in any sort of romantic or sexual entanglement: we are just friends.
I guess Peter assumed otherwise…
During those couple of months that he worked with us at the restaurant, he frantically tried to get as close to me as possible-he even asked for another loan of $10K (he paid the first one off by then)! In response, feeling more and more uneasy, I tried to distance myself from him as much as I could. I didn’t go as far as cancelling our appointments, but I’ve made myself unavailable and they became a bi-weekly, rather than weekly affair. I was planning to stop seeing him altogether.

In the meantime, I quit my job in that restaurant in January (I was only staying to fulfill my promises to the owners) and planned a nice 10-day get-away to Fiji.

When I mentioned this to Peter during one of my visits, he wanted to know whom I’m going with (alone) and if I would like for him to “look after my house” in my absence (No!). In a way, this was the beginning of the end-Peter started unravelling.

Pip’s sister was coming over to visit with her husband from Japan and Pip’s parents were driving from Taranaki, so I gave her the keys to my house and told her that they all can to stay in my place (they happily accepted).

My trip to Fiji turned out to be miserable (Sara made sure of that-”The One”). My last day there, Peter texted me and asked for a booking upon my arrival. I didn’t reply and he became insistent and sort of pushy, demanding a response. Now I know he just wanted to know my exact whereabouts (I was flying to Auckland and had my car parked there, so was driving back to Napier the next day after I landed).

I spent the night in a hotel in Auckland and received an odd text from Pip the next morning: “Who else has the keys to your house?” she asked. I replied “No one but you”. Pip made some joke and let it go.

I got home,unpacked and spend the rest of the day doing laundry and sorting through the mail. I saw Peter for a booking later that afternoon. He seemed  his usual self.

The next day there were 2 letters in my mailbox: one was a Valentine’s Card from Peter (it was Valentine’s Day that weekend) and another was a very bizarre piece of correspondence. It was a letter typed (using  a typewriter, not a computer), on a lined piece of cheap paper, with many typos and unmistakable style (Peter’s),with bad spelling and punctuation.
It said that it was from a client of mine who is also an IRD (tax department) officer. He said that he’s been investigating “my case” and he believes that numbers don’t add up. He quoted the exact amount of money I had in one of my accounts-my Credit Union one (the only one I had a passbook for, as the rest of them are all paperless online accounts) and asked me how I could justify deposit amounts. He said he was going to “keep it from his superiors, but not for long” and I should “lay low” for a few months. It was signed “Friend”. He also said that he would “write again soon”.
The whole thing was laughable except for the fact that it was clearly written by Peter and it seemed that he has been through my personal filing cabinet IN MY HOUSE!!
I immediately ran to Pip’s house where I discovered something even more disturbing.

Apparently, when Pip arrived at my house that last day, she found my mail neatly laid on the chair by the front door. When she entered, she discovered a basket full of condoms and lube placed in the middle of my bed (it was INSIDE my bedside table when I left) and on my dining room table there was my “Guide To Lesbian Sex” book laying open. Pip called her parents/sister to make sure it weren’t them who left those items where they were (of course,not!). Thus the text from her asking me who else had an access to the house-she just didn’t want to spook me while I was driving, so left it until I got home.

It was clear that Peter has been to my house in my absence (many, many times, as I found out later). Apparently, he was under the impression that Pip and I were dating and thought that was the reason his advances were not met with any success. So he decided to “remove the competition” by breaking us up. He figured Pip knew nothing of  me being the working girl (wrong! Of course she did) and tried to “out” me to her… LMAO!. It wasn’t really funny, but in a way, it was.

I went through all my papers and realised that a couple of things were missing: my day planner from a year prior(it was a small book, I kept it because I write absolutely everything into my day planner: phone numbers, appointments, random thoughts,etc) and my suicide letter that I wrote in a moment of absolute despair when Sara left me (I know, I should have destroyed it long ago).
I am very organised, everything is filed and labeled and I live alone, so I knew I didn’t “misplace” those and no one else could have taken them.

I had to take extreme action. Accompanied by one of my male friends I went to Peter’s house that night. He wouldn’t open the door at first, keeping all lights off, but when we were leaving, I saw him trying to peek through the curtain. He knew he’s been caught out, so he pretended to be really sleepy and opened the window.
I told him I needed to talk to him straight away. He opened the door and in we (Vlad and I) went in.
I confronted Peter, he denied any wrongdoing.
I asked him if he picked up my mail-he admitted that,  but said he just left it at the door. You see, he is very clever-he knew that he was probably seen by my neighbours around my house, so he had a “legitimate” reason for being there.
I told him I knew he had my note and I wanted it back. He kept denying everything. I warned him to stay away and left.

The next morning I got a text from him saying that he was confused, didn’t know what was happening and for me to “name a time and place for coffee to sort things out”. I ignored the text. He then rang me on my land line and I just yelled at him to leave me alone and hang up.
By now I knew things were a lot worth than I originally thought: Peter was clearly a very disturbed individual.

I went to the police. At first, the officer in the window was trying to politely give me a brush off by saying that I need to file a restraining order and for that I need a lawyer and a court.
But after a few minutes of me describing the situation, something flickered in his eyes. “What is the guy’s name?” he asked. I told him. He heaved a sigh and said:”You better come with me”.
When we went inside, he proceeded to tell me that Peter is known to the police, has been for years, for that exact behaviour (stalking)-factor in that story Peter told me about the other working girl from two years ago. NOW it was all making sense.
Police officer told me that they really want to put him away, but he is very clever and never leaves a trace and they just can’t “get” him.
Report was filed and my house was fingerprinted the next day. I also had to serve a tress pass notice on Peter personally (NZ has really strange laws).

Peter kept denying everything, but from that point on he engaged in an active stalking campaign against me.

I changed my locks, but he got into the house one more time (a friend of mine helped me figure out later that he was getting in through the bathroom window that wasn’t latching properly. I nailed all the windows in the house shut after that).

During that last break-in Peter put my suicide note back, but in a different file. There was no mistaking he had it,though: it was originlly written by hand, in pencil on a pristine piece of paper,not ever folded. Now it appeared folded in four and had deep warn out creases where the folds were (as if it’s been carried in a wallet or pocket).

Peter sent me another letter, asking why I “suddenly turned on him”.

Next few months were a nightmare. Napier is a relatively small town and it’s not hard to figure out any one’s whereabouts, especially in CBD.

Peter unlocked my car and turned the lights on to drain the battery (he clearly made the copy of my car keys on one of his forays into my house) twice in one week.

I'd see him driving the streets and pretend not to see him and, sure enough, he would make a sharp U-turn the minute he spotted me.

He called the parlour where I worked occasionally just when I happen to be there, feighted surprise at hearing my voice, then asked if I “found the letter I was missing” (after he put it back).

I saw him following me in a car that was different from his own (to avoid detection, I guess).

When I went out of town for a few days, he managed to track down a phone number of one of my acquaintances (older lady who watched my little dog in my absence), called her from a payphone, gave her some bullshit story and weaseled out of her exactly where I went. She realised something wasn’t right the minute she hang up, but it was too late: he caught her unaware.

Peter monitored private ads I put in a local paper (although I used a different name) and mailed those along with some older ones (about 4 months) to the parlour owner where I worked occasionally. I guess, Peter thought they wouldn’t let me work in that parlour again. Ha!

He clearly didn’t want me to be with anyone else. He wanted me all to himself.

I tried to fight back. I installed alarm in my car, sensor floodlights and live monitored alarm system at my house (to the tune of $1500).

I rang his wife (she holds an important position with a local hospital and I was hoping she could “put a leash on him” to avoid the embarrassment).

I also wrote her a letter (and sent a copy to his married son who lived in the same area). That netted no result, except the police calling me and trying to tell me that I was “harassing” her. Can you believe it?!

I contacted a lawyer and tried to start a restraining order, only to find out that it would be nearly impossible and a waste of $3000: since Peter was never actually my boyfriend and we never lived together, he could challenge the order time after time and SUCCEED, wasting my lawyer’s time and my money in the process.

Finally, I made arrangements to move to Wellington. Peter wasn’t the only deciding factor in that move, but he definitely was one of them.

That didn’t stop him. Shortly after moving I received a text from one of girls who worked in a cafe in Napier that I used to go to every morning for my coffee and muffin (I am a creature of habit). She told me that he’s been in asking where I went (of course, she didn’t tell him).
I was so mad! I rang him and yelled at him to leave me alone-he just laughed. He said he didn’t know what I was talking about.
I knew then that the best course of action would be to ignore him: he clearly was craving contact and acknowledgement.

He still  to this day calls me systematically (about twice a week) from  a blocked number and  hangs up.

Peter even tracked my ex-husband’s cell phone number, caught him unaware with some half-plausible story and managed to find out that I was liiving in Wellington.

I was on “Fair Go” (consumer protection TV show here in NZ) for a completely unrelated matter.As I found out later, Peter tracked down and called the woman I was having a dispute with (again, he used a fake name and a blocked number), claimed to be a “disgruntled customer” of mine and weaseled out my actual address (she had it because it is compulsory to put it on a Dispute Tribunal Claim).

Imagine my shock when I found a postcard in my mailbox in Wellington which read: “Why would you leave sunny Hawkes Bay for cold, windy Wellington? See you in Hawkes Bay”. There was no signature and, of course, he had someone else write it, so it wasn’t his handwriting. It sounded innocuous enough, taken out of context, but he was letting me know that he is well aware of my exact whereabouts.

At one point he’s taken to playing back  audio tapes during his “anonymous” phone calls. Apparently the prick taped our bookings and I do very good “sound effects”… I am not at all sure what point he was trying to make.

It’s been year and a half since I left Napier. Peter hasn’t given up, not entirely. Anonymous phone calls are less frequent, but he still calls.

I am not letting him affect my life: I still go to Napier to see my friends occasionally.

Few weeks ago I worked there for 3 days. I used a different name and a different number-he still figured it out. I was trying to be vigilant by having my friend record a greeting and was answering the phone in a “fake” voice. However, lots of “legit” clients ring from “blocked” numbers and I was pretty busy, so I’ve answered a couple of calls in my real voice. Sure enough, there Peter was, asking about “the rates”. I hang up on him immediately (I don’t know what he was thinking-that I would actually accept his booking?!) and rang back a half a dozen times straight away (I ignored).

Police told me that he is “not violent” as far as they know. Well, it’s cold comfort: people “snap” all the time. Besides, Peter is clearly sick and he needs help and untreated sickness as we all know progresses, while the patient deteriorates. He can become violent at any time and anything can trigger it.

So this is my story. As sad as it is, here’s the lessons from it: you can’t really be overly nice to any client. You have to gently remind them, over and over, that this is strictly “business”. Yes, you enjoy their company, but ONLY for the duration of the booking. It doesn’t mean that “it’s all about money”, but it has to be clear that no personal or romantic relationship is even remotely possible.

Clearly, when stalkers are clever (as Peter is), police is helpless. There is absolutely nothing they can do. Not unless you’re dead and seriously harmed and they can “pin” it on him.
This is the world we live in. It is what it is, whether we like it or not

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The end of a lesbian love affair

.Last week I had to serve my ex with a court order for the re-payment of the monies that she owes me- $11K, not a small chunk of change.
New Zealand requires most of the court documents and even police restraining orders to be served "in person".. And yet they don't have "process servers" like there are in US. Seems strange, but it is what it is and I had to do it myself.
But let me start from the beginning.

A year ago, my ex,Sara, ("The One") found herself in a very bad situation. She was dumped by her girlfriend,literally,kicked out of the house (owned by that girlfriend) and had no place to go, no money and no friends in that city.
Granted, that disaster was of Sara's own making: she met the woman online,got engaged to her 3 weeks later and moved in with her within 2 months (very,very lesbian thing to do..LOL.. The famous U-Haul joke)! In doing so, she left a job that paid her quite well and a town where all her family,friends and support system was situated.
Sara moved to Auckland without a job (or any prospects of one), no savings and sizable debt.
Things went to shit pretty soon, as was expected by everyone: these women didn't really know each other, both of them didn't work (Sara's girlfriend was on DPB-NZ welfare benefit) and they were stuck in the house day in and day out.
To be fair, that girlfriend WAS a nutcase (as I found out much,much later through conversations with people who knew her well), but it all could been prevented had Sara took time to get to know the person and didn't rush into relationship without any thought.
So... For 3 months Sara was unemployed, adding to her debt and no sooner had she secured a job (NOT an ideal job, by the way), the relationship was over, bitter arguments were continuing and Sara was out on the street.
By then, Sara and I were "finished" (as far as romantic relationship goes) for almost a year: she dumped me right after I helped her secure a very well paid job (she would not had gotten that job if not for my connections, that is a fact).
In fact, Sara broke up with me the day her contract was signed (I think the ink was still drying on it when she told me that our relationship "will not go the distance")..LOL...
I was still in love with her, though. I was hoping for a second chance for us.
But that's not why I helped her, ultimately. I didn't give her money in hopes that she'd jump in bed with me-it wasn't like that at all. I actually really cared about her. Her being so sad,heartbroken and destitute just broke my heart.
Sara asked me for a loan. I gave her the money.
 I also paid for a hotel (temporary place to stay), paid to fix her car, put a bond on a house for her to rent and paid the contractor to fix that house.
She asked me for another loan a month later. I gave her more money.
She kept telling me that she was really grateful, that she will re-pay me,that she had a plan.
In the meantime, she asked me to go over her finances with her. When I done so, it was clear that Sara is in a deficit about $600/month. I agreed to supply that amount monthly to help her get back on her feet.
She swore that from then on she would take care of her finances, stick with the budget and climb out of a hole she was in.
Sara had a number of psychological issues, which she never faced. However, that August she admitted to one (eating disorder) and started attending OA (over eaters anonymous group) meetings. Back in August I urged her to see a "shrink". She never got around to it, always finding excuses.
In the meantime, by the end of October, I was having some serious financial troubles myself. It was nothing I couldn't manage, but I could ill afford to support Sara in addition to my own obligations.
I've emailed Sara and told her about it.
In response I got email that was nothing short of "bullying"-she told me that I urged her to see a "shrink" and she had (finally, 3 months later) and she can't afford to pay the bill and it's due. She also took it for granted that I'd continue supplying $600/month to her for the next 3 months.
I did. I paid for the psychologist and the $600... Sara was telling me how much she appreciates it and how she would always "be there" for me and repay me the money.
We never did get a "second chance" for our romantic involvement,as I've met someone else that August and was pursuing that relationship.
I made the last payment of $600 to Sara in Feb. She sent me email thanking me and,basically, trying one last time to "milk" me for more, saying how she would have to "figure out how to make-do" from now on.
This time I didn't buy into it and didn't budge-I really couldn't afford it!
Besides, Sara had 6 months to sort herself out and come up with a plan. She could done any number of things (including filing for bankruptcy and wiping off ALL of her debt), yet she's done nothing.
When she realised I'm not about to fork over any more money, all the texts and emails first trickled down, then stopped completely. She told me some story about her IPhone "not working properly" (why do they all use that excuse??).
Then Christchurch earthquake happened. It had a serious impact on me. I had to make some decisions and make them fast. I was restructuring my whole life and I needed money.
I've emailed Sara and explained the situation to her. I told her that of $11K that she owes me, I would be happy with $5K and the rest she could consider forgiven.
Her reply was "You are such a drama queen (that's from someone who posts on her FB wall things like "I lost all faith in human beings" and "I feel like a teenager in love-I've never felt like that before"). You know I don't have any money".
That was it-no sympathy (you know, all that moral support she promised me, "I'll always be there for you" her exact words were), no offer of some sort of payment, or even payment plan. No suggestion that she would try and see what she could sell/borrow.. Nothing..
After a while she stopped answering my emails and phone calls altogether.
This is the person who used to text me in all hours of night and day (sometimes at 1 am or while I was IN a booking with a client), asking me for support, telling me how she was "blue" and "didn't want to live any more".. I always dropped whatever I was doing and text her back immediately, trying to build her up, to make her feel better.
Few times I jumped on a plane (or in my car) and gone to Auckland just to support her.
When she walked away in a huff from her "dream job" at a prestigious winery (where I worked as well), I took a stand to support her: I told the management off, I quit my job in protest, I went to newspapers to rally  support for her.
I helped her get another job that paid as well ( VERY difficult in a small town,NZ,as she was making a lot of money) and when she walked away from that one,too,after just 4 weeks,I was left  "holding the bag", as I promised the owners that I would work for them for at least 3 months,through  X-Mas/New Year's holidays-as a matter of fact, that was one of the conditions of them hiring Sara. So I kept my word and worked in that hell until January.
I bought Sara $1200 last minute ticket to go to Melbourne, so she could attend her ex's 40's birthday and "relax and unwind" (mind, we weren't together anymore).
I took her out, wined and dined her in posh restaurants (for which I paid,of course) ,bought her expensive presents -she likes presents, they lift her spirits (again, we weren't together).
She never gave me anything (not that I wanted anything,but just to make a point). Not even a X-Mas card. Even now, looking back, trying to think of any "mementos" of our relationship, I can't think of anything: only text and FB messages.
After all that, she wouldn't give me MY money back, money that was clearly stipulated as a loan! She knew what I had to do to earn that money, how hard I worked.
I gave her a couple of months and filed a court case.
The complaint had to be served to her in person, but not necessary by ME, so I had one of my friends in Auckland do it.
According to the law, Sara had 30 business days to respond to complaint and serve me with a response.
I guess, she thought I will never go through with it, as she never responded.
Instead of 30 days, I gave her 2 months and, still, there was nothing.
So I filed for a Final Judgement. It was granted in my favour for the full amount.
Although not specified in writing, the court clerk told me that it was prudent to serve that in person as well.
I couldn't ask the same friend anymore: Sara is no dummy and probably would not come out of the kitchen if he came into the restaurant again.
So I sat out for Auckland. I had a plan: I had a "decoy" bouquet of flowers and "fake" present:big fancy box with a ribbon and nothing inside it.
I also dressed not to be recognised: I did the "butch" look..LOl..
 I was wearing a baseball cap with all my hair tucked under it, old,well-work leather jacket of "men's coat" style (both items borrowed from my mate), hoodie under the jacket and jeans. Granted jeans were designer and quite form-fitting and I had little black shoes with bows on (but they were FLATS and I just didn't have any other kind), but,still, I think I pulled a decent "butch". The fact that I had no make-up or any jewellery on probably helped as well.
I went into the restaurant where Sara worked for the last year. The front of the house person told me that they "don't have a Sara"... It really didn't sound good: clearly she did not leave on good terms.
Pretending to be just a delivery person, I asked if they knew where she went. After 3 trips to the kitchen (located 2 meters away) and some whispered discussions, I was told that she is now at some place called "The Tasting Room" in Kumeu.
Kumeu is where Sara lives, and, quite frankly, although it's technically Auckland, reality is, it's out in the "country".. Waaay out.
I went into Internet cafe to try and investigate the location of that "Tasting Room". Lo and behold, there was an email from my friend (Sara's ex of 12 years,as it happens..Yeah,yeah, I know, it's a small incestuous society we live in..LOL..) and she told me that through various FB chats she figured that Sara works "here" and gave me a link to the website of the restaurant. How's that for timing?!
By then it was 5 pm-very ugly "rush hour" in Auckland, so I passed few hours having dinner with a friend.
Around 8 pm I went to Kumeu. I found the place on the first try, but it really is "in the middle of nowhere", on a Highway with no lights and way pass any resemblance of  a town which lays on the way there.
I have to point out that this is definitely a "step down" for Sara. She has huge ego (which was a problem with all the previous employers) and until now only considered jobs in a very famous, upscale, ultra fine dining places.
I looked at the menu online: yes, she is trying for a "fine dining" menu, but...
The place does not look the part, it is located in the "boondocks" and if they are trying to attract posh Auckland clientele, good luck to them.
It is definitely a "destination" location, which proves to be a problem if one intends to drink alcohol. Besides, I don't think they have enough "pull" anyway: Sara IS very talented chef, no doubt, but Auckland is full of them, in various "convenient" locations and decor of the place is very "rustic"-it just does not scream "fine dining" to me.
They will have to rely on local population, which, when the novelty wears off, probably would not be willing to pay "fine dining prices" (that area is not considered "posh" by any means).
I do wish them all the best and hope Sara would make it last (if not for  any other reason, but to pay me my money back), but I am very doubtful.
Anyway, I went looking for an entrance (it's a bit confusing there) and one of the owners saw me through the massive glass window/wall and came out. I told her I had a delivery for Sara (huge bouquet and gift box in hand). She went to take it, but I asked if Sara could come out. Woman mumbled something about them being "in the middle of the service", but opened the door just off the entrance (weird location for the kitchen) and called Sara.
Sara came out, saw me and a small,smug smile was creeping up her face. I couldn't believe it: she actually thought that I came all the way there to beg for her forgiveness and congratulate her on her new job (they just opened 2 days prior)! What arrogance!! But it's actually my own fault: I "trained" her to expect that...
I handed her the flowers and the envelope with the court papers. "You've been served" I said quietly and walked away. She never said anything, or at least not out loud-I'm sure she wanted to call me any number of names :).
According to the law, she now has 48 hours to respond or make payment arrangements. If she does nothing, I will submit the paperwork to Collections and they will attach her wages,bank account(s) and force the sale of her assets.
I enclosed the note with the paperwork, explaining all that to Sara. I told her (sincerely) that I really don't want it to come to that. I don't have any agenda, nor am I trying to "teach her a lesson" or "prove a point". I just want my money back. It's that simple.
In that same note I told Sara that I will be happy to settle for a smaller (but reasonable) amount if it's paid in a lump sum within next 30 days.
I doubt I will hear from her. Collections Department,here I come.
I also had to disconnect her land line phone and Internet: it was in my name, as her credit is so poor, no company was willing to provide a service to her. I asked her back in March to get in touch with me regarding it, but, of course, never heard from her and was shocked to discover that she is still using it last week. I had no choice: I can't ruin my credit.
So this is it. Quite sad, really, but that's the way life is, more often than not.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How do I get back at men who annoy me

Thought I'd write something light-hearted after all the heavy stuff :).

Just a couple of incidents-hopefully, they'll make everyone chuckle.

Last week one of my friends and I went to the movies. Afterwards, she wanted a drink and a chat.
As she lives in Melbourne permanently and has a car, I let her be in charge and pick a spot.
We ended up in one of the upscale bars just off Chapel St.
She said she'd been there once before and  liked it.
The place did look nice: it's a restaurant and there is a nice courtyard patio out back,where one could have a drink,etc.
We were greeted by a rather uptight waiter: he definitely seemed to have a stick up his butt.
He looked down his nose at us (I am not sure why,as we were dressed nice and both are reasonably good looking), but took us through to the patio,as we requested.
We ordered a couple of martinis and engaged in a private conversation. It was a chilly winter evening in Melbourne, but patio had heaters, so we were reasonably comfortable.
Almost immediately upon our arrival my attention was drawn to two men sitting at the table in the middle and not for a good reason. They were clearly well "into their cups", loud and used "f.." word frequently.
We tried to ignore them the best we could.
It was proving to be impossible, however,as not only they were joined by their equally inebriated friends, but also moved by the staff to a table next to ours! Apparently, the big table in the middle was reserved for someone else's get together.
My friend went to the loo and one of those guys immediately tried to talk to me: he introduced himself as Andrew.
Andrew appeared to be in his late 40's-early 50's, not at all attractive,pretty drunk and quite obnoxious-two huge turn-offs for me.
I was pretty short with him and told him that my girlfriend was coming right back.
Pam came back, we resumed our conversation (which was quite personal and private). In the meantime, guys at the next table kept encroaching in our space: Andrew was sitting on the bench that run along the wall and he was closer to our table than he was to his. He kept putting his drink down on our table and all of them were talking politics really loud, one couldn't help but hear them (they had no clue what they were talking about,either,let me tell you).
Andrew tried to talk to my friend and I again. Mind, he didn't buy us a round of drinks or even offered to do so, he just started talking to us,asking our names and carrying on. Pam brushed him off,saying that our conversation was private.
Next few minutes found Andrew and his friends  standing up and talking, gesticulating wildly (I don't know why,as there was plenty of room to sit at their table). In fact, Andrew's hand with drink in it was hovering right over my friend's head!
Even the waiter who was passing by our table noticed-he asked those guys to please move a bit.
By then we were on our second martini and we had a platter of snacks as well.
"Stuffy" waiter kept coming around and asking us if we wanted anything else-and not in a solicitous way-he clearly wanted us to just go. The reason: those drunk guys at the next table tipped him (I saw the money passing hands) and he wanted to accommodate them.
It was becoming obvious by then that the place is,actually,quite a "meat market": there were "pick-ups" happening all over, it seemed. It was clear to everybody that my friend and I are not interested in any of that. So the waiter wanted for us to go-he needed to make the space for more "available" girls/women to make "Andrew and Co" happy.
Place was getting really crowded as well. We started out in a nice upscale bar,but now it was resembling a pub,really.
I was getting more and more annoyed with the guys at the next table: they were getting louder by the minute, taking liberties:kept putting drinks on our table, hovering over our heads and STILL trying to engage us in a conversation.
Finally, I had enough. I also had a plan. I asked my friend if she was ready to go and when she said "yes" told her to just follow my lead.
We made our way through now very crowded patio and restaurant to the reception. When the "stuffy' waiter came up to the register to collect our payment, I smiled sweetly and told him that Andrew decided to take care of our bill: he felt bad about causing us inconvenience and wanted to make up for it.
I was banking on a combination of things: the fact that the place was very crowded and it wasn't easy for that waiter to go back and check with Andrew,it was also very busy and all the staff was run off their feet. He just said "OK", albeit with a little uncertainty and,with that, we were gone..LMAO..
Hopefully, some lessons will be learnt from that incident:
a) By Andrew: do not offer dubious pleasure of your company to women who are clearly not interested AND do not keep telling them your name
b) By a "stuffy" waiter: treat all people with equal respect-it's your job,for crying out loud! Don't assume you're better/smarter than everyone else-you might just get fooled :)

Another incident happened this week.
While I was in Melbourne, one of the girls from work put me onto several websites. They are all,basically,"Sugar Daddy" sites, where men and women are looking for an "arrangement".
One of them is called "WhatsYourPrice": it's where men offer "ex" number of dollars to go on a date with a girl/woman. Women can name their price and counter-offer.
I accepted an offer from this guy named Ebby. When he messaged me,his messages came across as quite rude: done in abbreviated "text" style, no greeting, no introduction. After I read his profile, I also found out that he is only 27 years old, Muslim and doesn't drink alcohol. I couldn't imagine why he even contacted me; we had absolutely nothing in common. The only thing I could think of was my profile photo: it showcases my ample breasts..LOL..
I've decided to not go through with the date.
Ebby persevered,though. He messaged me several times and then,one morning, he text me asking if I wanted to do dinner/movie that night.
As it happens, it was my day off and I was planning to go to the theater.
I thought:" Fine! Here we go,Ebby-you gonna get your wish!" I told him I wanted to see a play and have dinner at the theater restaurant beforehand (I've been meaning to try that restaurant for a while).
I DID tell him to read play synopsis online before he decided,though.
He kept texting me back, saying that he bought the tickets,made reservations,etc-apparently the theater was really close to his flat-he made sure he informed me of that fact (one can only guess as to WHY..LOL)
That night I arrived a little early and was in the theater's bathroom when my phone rang-it was Ebby. He was waiting for me at the lobby.
I went out to meet him and we proceeded into a restaurant.
As I took my coat off, Ebby seemed transfixed by my breasts (I do have ample bosom and was wearing a tight top:). All through the dinner he kept giving my bosom what he thought was "discreet" glances.
He was also texting (without excusing himself even) at the dinner table (one of my biggest pet-peeves).
I asked Ebby if he read the plays synopsis and he replied that he watched the trailer. He commented that the play would be funny. It gave me a pause: I read the reviews and from those I gathered that the play deals with a number of serious issues, is about a heartbreak and a terrible loss.. I couldn't think of anything "funny" in there. It was certainly not billed as "comedy"...
I tried to keep polite conversation and be entertaining, but Ebby and I had zero in common. I resorted to tried and true: got him to talk about every one's favorite subject-himself.
Food was barely passable, I might add-it's a good thing I didn't have to pay for it.
Desert, however, was superb. Note to self: while attending plays at MTC, plan on coffee and desert ONLY, as pastry chef is definitely on to it (unlike the Head Chef,clearly).
We couldn't even finish our desert,as it was time to go inside.
When we walked into the auditorium,the only seats left were at the front row. I actually prefer the front row in the theater,as you get to notice nuances better.
And then it happened! Within first 10 minutes of the play suddenly there was quite extensive scene with full frontal male nudity! As we were sitting in the front row, the lead actor's penis was, quite literally, hanging right in front of our faces.
I honestly knew nothing about that in advance-it wasn't in the review.
Ebby's discomfort was palpable! At some point he actually covered his face with one hand..LOL..
Just as I thought, the play was quite serious: there was a lot of shouting and raw emotions. There was nothing funny about it.
Ebby was clearly bored. He fidgeted in his seat, was yawning and texting. I tried to ignore him the best I could and focused on the play. It was quite good and I enjoyed it.
When it was over, I said goodbye to Ebby and thanked him for the lovely evening (I was brought up to have manners) and didn't even ask for my $75 "date fee" stipulated on the website. I knew Ebby had a miserable time, but that was his own fault...
Lessons to be learned:
a) If someone is clearly "not your type" or you have absolutely no common ground, don't ask them out, REGARDLESS of how big their breasts are..LOL..
b)Learn some basic manners and you might enjoy yourself more/get more rewards

Third incident occurred while myself and one of my girlfriends were having dinner at Dracula's.
That place was on my "Melbourne bucket list" for almost a year: I just had to go check it out.
So I've made arrangements with one of my "besties". Holly (not her real name) is great! I've met her at work last year and we hit it off straight away.
Back then she was self-proclaimed "bi-sexual" and dated a guy AND a girl at the same time. Her and I have never been romantically or sexually involved-there was never any desire from either one of us to go down that path: it was "mates" from the start.
Things have changed for Holly in the last few months: she's met an amazing man, fell in love, got married.
I have to make a side note here: I do not date "bi" girls. At all. Holly is a good example why: in the end, they all "want their dick", to put it blunt and go off with a guy. Or, as someone I know (a lesbian) says "Bi girls are there for a good time, not for a long time".
Relationships are hard as it is and I don't want to double the chances of failure by dating someone who could "swing both ways".
Anyway, here we were, Holly and I, having a good 'ol time at Dracula's, consuming copious amounts of bubbles.
When you enter that place, they ask you where you from (it's a tourist trap and they do all the "touristy" things, like making fun of you later).
When the show started, the guy on stage was picking on Holly (she's Irish) and myself-in a good-natured way.
During one of the intermissions,Holly went off to the loo. The guy next to me immediately started chatting me up, asking all sorts of stupid questions. This is what annoys me: he could clearly see I was with someone, yes, a woman, and still he tried to pick me up. And when she was away momentarily, too. WTF?
I was polite, but reserved. Then Holly came back and she bought a little prezzie for at the gift shop. I made a big production of pashing her and giving her a big hug (quickly whispered into her ear what was happening).
She caught on straight away-she's really quick on the draw. We proceeded with more kissing and hugging and various PDA.
It was so funny! The guy felt so uncomfortable, he didn't know where to hide! LMAO.
Lessons to be learned:
a) Don't be a "stud" and think that every woman will fall for your dubious charms at a drop of a hat
b)Be mindful of the fact that some women really DO prefer women and no, it is NOT a question of "not having met a "right" guy".