Kirche Kuche Kinder

9 May

Every so often, while eavesdropping — or, perhaps, a more polite term is, err, “people-watching” — one comes across conversations that one, quite literally, couldn’t make up.

Ever since we met Klaus in Marinduque, I’ve been interested in those mutually advantageous marriages that a certain type of gentleman procures in the Philippines, and elsewhere in South-East Asia. I’d interpreted them, essentially, as an extension of sex tourism.

But the chap at the next table to us at our diving place the other night was looking for something rather different. Very much, in fact, the traditional kirche, kuche, kinder, with a little nostalgie de la boue, the desire for a primitive, Gauguinesque life among the natives. Or, as we say in English, unreconstructed sexist oaf seeks compliant light-brown slave.

I zoned into their conversation at a tricky juncture. “No, no,” the chap was saying. “You won’t like Norway. Let me tell you. All the Norwegian women will be jealous of you.”

Like any decent eavesdropper, my head turned to assess this self-described paragon of male beauty.

Unusually, this chap was, indeed, quite easy on the eye. Not as beautiful as the submissive, slight, slender chick, sat beside him with her face in a decorous moue that somehow still expressed intense, frustrated, passive-aggressive fury. Rather short by Scandinavian standards. But, you know, could certainly get laid for free…

“I want you to live here,” he says. “Close to your family. And then I come and visit you, and send you money, and spend time here. But in Norway, the women they will hate you. They do not like beautiful women in Norway. It will be very difficult for you.”

Mademoiselle remaining silent and visibly under-impressed, he moved to what was clearly another favoured topic in his repertoire. Money.

“It is so cheap here!” he says. “Look what we have eaten here! Blue marlin steak for me. One red wine for you. Three red wines and six or seven beers for me. Salad! [he rifles through the bill] Soup for you! And all for 845 pesos! I tell you. To buy the same meal in Norway would cost me maybe 8450 pesos. I am serious! .75l of beer costs 300 pesos in Norway, alone.”

The lady murmured, in a deferential fashion, “I think it is very expensive.”

“You think it is expensive here?” he exclaims, draping his arm over the little lady in a manner both patronising and proprietorial. “Expensive, here? You poor, poor girl.”

“Let me tell you about Norway,” he continues, getting into his stride. “My parents, they have a summer house. And this little summer house of theirs — it is not mine yet, but when they die it will be my house — is worth more than ten MILLION pesos. That is ten MILLION pesos. You see, it is not expensive here.”

A friend of his joins the table with a lady who appeared to be a friend of hers, double-dating, but clearly with less invested in her relationship than the first. More beers are summoned, in an oafish fashion.

“You see,” he says. “The women in Norway, they do not appreciate men. In Norway, you go out to work, you make all this money, and you give the woman all this money. And is she grateful? Does she appreciate you? She does not. Now, when I send you money, or give you money, you are grateful.”

She nods, submissively.

While I am pondering precisely what percentage of Norwegian women are entirely dependent on their menfolk for financial support, either prior to or during the raising of their children, and where on earth this chap has been sourcing his ladies from, he continues.

“And, what is worst of all, if you ask a Norwegian woman to do housework, she will get angry, and refuse to do it. The house, it is never cleaned. Now, if I ask you to do housework, you will do it. And be happy to do it.”

Rock on, women of Norway, I think.

I catch the female friend’s eye very, very briefly. She is clearly thinking the same, but with added rage.

Conversation exhausted — and a feature of these types of relationships is that, even in their cups, the men generally have very little to say to their women — the chaps talk among themselves, for a little while. “Are you understanding this?” asks the oaf.

“How can we understand you?” asks the friend. “You’re speaking Norwegian.”

He laughs. Smug not only in his rapier wit, but in his fluency in his native language and the foolishness of the little ladies who do not speak it.

I would love to see how this story ends. I hope, and pray, that it ends with her moving to Norway, getting the passport, getting a job, getting a divorce and getting the house, too. Or maybe just the summerhouse. Like he says, that alone would make her a peso multimillionaire…

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10 Responses to “Kirche Kuche Kinder”

  1. Tatiana at 5:02 am #

    You tell a good story! What an amazing conversation. I feel like I shared it with you. . . . which means it was great writing, too. Thanks!

  2. janet bettesworth at 11:50 pm #

    this is absolutely hilarious. had your blog recommended to me by Anne-Marie, and I’m really enjoying it

    • MummyT at 9:42 am #

      Thank you! There are rather too many of this sort of chap around the Philippines…

  3. Marilyn Terrell at 11:50 am #

    Rock on, women of Norway!

  4. Jo'el at 2:18 am #

    Before western culture came to the Philippines, it was shameful for women to drink and smoke….now its common.

    In the early 1940’s it was shameful for women in the west to smoke and drink, but womens suffrage happened. Women wanted to be like men. They even started dressing like men.

    Now the divorce rate has skyrocked, familys are broken apart, motherless and fatherless, we govern ourselves. We are I phones. We have “I” communitys.

    What happened to the “ladys”?

    I am fortunate, i married one of the last few. She is from the Philippines. I love her with all my heart and soul. And she knows it by the way i serve her. I know how she loves me through her action. Her service. She is not ashamed to serve me, but proud.

    You fools….you know nothing of shame….you dont know even how to be a “lady.”

    • MummyT at 2:50 pm #

      Tis true I’m not an expert on either shame or being a lady. I do, however, know that women’s suffrage was a late 19th century movement, that women have been wearing trousers since then in the west (and since long before then in many parts of Asia), that women of all classes in the West have been smoking and drinking since that was invented, and that ladies normally takes its plural with ie, not y. But, thank you for your perspective.

  5. Brenna at 1:48 pm #

    Hi, thanks for posting this! Though I must say that we can’t really judge by our own standards. When we travel, we must accept the fact that there are certain norms that are not usually acceptable to us. Women’s culture from different countries are really very different.

    Maybe women from Philippines ought to be submissive because they value family much more than themselves. Women from Norway value their pride. So it’s a very different standpoint.

    • MummyT at 10:31 pm #

      Thanks for your comment. I guess it’s hard to generalise about women from the Philippines or women from Norway. The Filipina women I know tend to be quite the reverse of submissive. Their take on this sort of dynamic was (essentially), “Well, if the girl’s a GRO or that sort of woman and knows what she’s doing, and is playing her game, good on her. If she’s some little girl from a village who believes she’s found her dream guy she’s likely to get very badly exploited.” But it was the man’s attitude to women which I found problematic, rather than the women’s response to the man.

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