The coolest part about being in the military for me, was moving around and experiencing different cultures for real. I got a chance to live in Japan, Europe, and different parts of the United States, plus extended long vacations in places like Afghanistan and Kuwait. There’s an element of the culture that you get when you live somewhere that is impossible to have in a weeklong visit to tourist spots. One of the many things I observed was how relationships are viewed in other places. Of course it wasn’t everyone, but enough to say, culturally, it was different than what I was accustomed to growing up.
My time in Japan began when I was a 19-year-old kid, head full of hair and just enough collective facial hair to make another eyebrow if combined. Outside of being illiterate, the first thing I noticed was how different Japan was in terms of how they viewed sex. One night I was out with my buddies, and we walked past a bunch of bars with older, heavyset ladies in front behaving like carnival barkers trying to get people to come in. We went in one just to see what the fuss was about, and it was sad upon finding out. There were young, girls from the Philippines scattered about and a combination of desperate looking Japanese and American guys. The girls would talk to these guys until the guys stopped buying drinks and then they’d talk to another guy for the same duration. We didn’t stay long because none of us had enough money to waste on this sort of entertainment, nor were we in that “desperate for female attention” bucket.
What I learned after the fact; this place is called a juicy bar. The hustle is that lonely guys can come in and be lied to for as long as they’re buying drinks for themselves and the girl. She’s basically getting apple juice while he’s getting drunk on watered down liquor. If the guy has a serious amount of cash, he could buy her out for a night and spend some private time with her. Yes, that’s prostitution, but with escalating levels. From what I understand, most of those girls weren’t having sex with the guys on their first “date”, just giving them that girlfriend experience. In my nearly 4 years in Japan, I spent a combined 30 minutes in Juicy bars over 2 visits. This is before I knew that some, if not all, these girls were victims of human trafficking. Even without knowing that information, the juicy bar wasn’t my vibe.
Little did I know, Japan has quite a few sexless marriages. By quite a few, I mean damn near half of them. Which means married men and women seek some form of attention from outside sources. Women will pay guys to spoon with them, happy ending massages exist for men and women, and there are dedicated business establishments to support a wide range of sexual fantasies or kinks. To me, the funny part about all of this…their porn is censored. They still find a way to be conservative despite rape fetishes, school girl, statutory rape fetishes and insanely graphic cartoon sex. In that regard my takeaway was, Japan is very conservative, but a bit more realistic than we are here. Honor is maintaining discretion in the “dirt” you do…not necessarily forgoing the “dirt”.
My time in Europe, specifically Belgium and the Netherlands, was quite different. I was in a less urban area, but close to college towns. By then I was early 20’s and just a little less naïve. Even so, my eyes were opened just a bit more. As most people assume, Europe is more socially liberal than Japan. Between Red Light districts in the major cities, sex clubs, a plethora of brothels and toplessness as a norm, it doesn’t feel like people are sexually repressed at all. It was rather refreshing if I’m being honest. The openness, and forward thinking, I wasn’t partying in the brothels and sex clubs. This brings me to my first time going to a brothel. It was far less cool than the lead up may imply.
Hard to imagine now, but there was a time GPS was rare and phones were barely good for texting. Not that it would matter, I didn’t have a cell phone at the time…imagine that now. One Sunday I was looking for this guy’s house to get a haircut with one of my buddies. We wrote the directions down on a little piece of paper but being unfamiliar with the area, we had no idea that some of the roads were unmarked gravel paths. Unlike America, regular business hours don’t seem to exist in Europe. That said, there was one place open, it looked like a standalone bar from the outside, nothing fancy just a purple neon light strip on the eaves and a few cars on the side. I went in, not a soul to be seen at the bar or any of the tables. Despite being Black I investigated further. I still assumed it was a bar until an older lady in an open bathrobe and sandals appeared from this little hallway on the side of the bar. Another older lady walks by in the background topless but wearing heels and some “sexy in her mind” stockings and panties. I played it cool because the need for a haircut was strong. I asked the lady in the robe if I could use the phone, she was super polite and said yeah while trying to give me the sexy eye the entire time I was on the phone. When I hung up she invited me to stay, but the combination of her looking every minute of her age and me not being sure what was taking place there, I politely declined and walked out.
Marriage is like a hot bath, once you get used to it, it’s not so hot anymore.Cool Funny Quotes
Relationships in Europe are different than what I was accustomed to in the US. I encountered a lot of people with life partners opposed to husbands and wives. Every facet of their relationship seemed like a marriage, except the exchanging of vows. They lived together, pooled income, raised kids, but skipped the I do’s. Some also skipped the sense of ownership as it pertains to sex. Whether these folks were indifferent and hurting on the inside, or genuinely indifferent, there was very little concern regarding sex with other people. Hence the reason these sex clubs are so chill. They are relatively discreet on the inside, but rather common, the locals know what’s up, and from what I could tell, not staffed with human trafficking victims.
In my time in Belgium I found out a lot of the Americans that I was stationed with were swingers. A term I wasn’t familiar with at the time, and didn’t learn until after I left that assignment oddly enough. I just knew a lot of them were throwing sex parties and none of the party planners were people I wanted to know like that. It was frowned upon with the Americans, but among the Belgians it was no big deal. I assume because of being so free and open when dealing with relationships and sexual matters in general, people are less likely to make human nature so taboo. The creep factor was also lower than the U.S. as well, not absent, just less prevalent in my opinion. You could pick up a fashion magazine and see topless women and it’s just part of the article, not porn. I was in Belgium for the Janet Jackson nip slip that set America ablaze…the Belgians laughed at our media for behaving like children when it comes to female nipple exposure.
It seemed like each assignment I went to was showing me just a bit more about the way people view relationships. I learned other lessons outside of sex too…hence the blog, but that’s the topic for now. After Japan and Europe, I found myself in Las Vegas, Sin City, Vegas Baby, and so on.
To Be Continued