“Internet, yes, internet is the game. With a click of the button, you can choose any girl you like. Asian women are the best, they listen to you,” advised Gary.
When the pub closed, the three middle aged men trotted down to Gary’s house. They had to half drag Norman because he was pissed with beer.
“Make Norman a big mug of black coffee, Marie. Then you can scoot off to bed, my mates and I have work to do,” Gary said harshly to his Filipino wife.
The three men went into Gary’s “office”. At the door hung a sign,
“ Office, out of bounds.” Gary took his key and unlocked the door.
“Wow!” said Norman, “You mean you actually locked your office, I’d never dreamed of this in a million years, Diane would use an axe to hack it open if I did this.”
“This is an Asian mail order bride for you. They do every thing for you. First they say, yes, sir, yes sir. Then they say, yes love. This is the best thing that has happened since sliced bread.”
Norman and Joe wowed as Gary clicked on the computer. They salivated at young women of all races in all degrees of scanty dress on the screen.
“How did you learn to use the computer?” asked Joe.
“My mates at work taught me, after I bought this computer, I surf the net every night,” replied Gary.
Norman, “I have heard about this internet dating, but never in my wildest dreams……. this is so wonderful.”
“Philippines, the girls are the best, they are very subservient and pliable and willing to do anything to please their husbands, they speak English albeit their Togalog English, just like my Maria.”
“Wow!” admired Joe.
“Also these Filipino wives are not like Kiwi wives who are quite stroppy, independent and won’t be pushed around. With a Filipino wife, you don’t have to do dishes for the rest of your life. She will even take the garbage out.”
Gary clicked again, “MAIL ORDER BRIDES FROM THE PHILIPPINES pen pals: beautiful young girls with intention for long term friendship, romance and marriage.” Photos of sexily and scantily dressed girls, long-haired girls with pouty lips appeared on the screen. Norman and Joe were drooling like dogs over these young semi nude nubile beauties.
“Is this how you met your Maria?” asked Joe.
“Yes!” Gary asked Norman, “Are you ready for the next stage in life………then you’ll wish you were born much earlier?”
“Yes, this one: Emma. The long with long jet black hair, aged eighteen and a nurse, with hobbies cooking and house keeping, and never had a boyfriend, this looks like my angel,” enthused Norman.
With a few more buttons to push, Gary said, “You are set, you will hear from me. Next time, you come here, be prepared with lots of booze for a big celebration.”
“Is that all?”
“It is going to cost you $30,000 to bring her over.”
“Where am I going to get that sort of money? I have nothing in my name.”
“You will think of something?”
“What about mortgaging your house?” interjected Joe.
“Diane will never allow it.”
The three men spent the rest of the night fantasizing their love lives, ogling at the hard core pornography, a daily escapade of Gary, and for the first time for Norman and Joe.
“You mean you do this every night? I must buy a computer for myself,” admired Joe.
Norman went back to his little dingy flat, he hadn’t cleaned since he moved out of the house. He had taken a year’s tenancy. He chuckled to himself at his luck. He would soon have a demur wife to let him be the lord of his house, and clean it till everything sparkled. That night, he couldn’t sleep. He tossed and turned like his washing in an old fashioned wringer washing machine. He dreamt of his Emma in his arms. It would be fantastic holding a diminutive girl instead of that fat woman who was his wife for twenty years. He imagined how her long hair would brush against his face with his hands circling her waist. Something he had not been able to do with his ex wife. His dream went sweeter, he would come home and the house would be spic and span. Oh, what bliss!
Norman invited Diane for a meal in a restaurant. Diane suggested dining at the Shochiku Japanese restaurant in Queen Street. Norman reckoned that Diane was now on a diet and that was why she chose Japanese food which she said was healthy. Diane accepted his invite thinking there was some hope of reconciliation. Though they were officially separated, she knew Norman had kicked out the Tongan girl, and the kids missed him and it was handy to have him around to fix things she couldn’t. Norman had always been a DIY dynamo since he was a kid. He forayed into the world of home improvement and his mum was proud of him. Diane missed these skills of his. Last of all, Norman was an action man who replaced the blown light bulb, changed the burnt fuse, mowed the lawn, fix the leaky tap and other fixit activities. His “macho-ness” was what attracted and charmed her most when she first arrived in Auckland, as a young country lass in the big city. He was a man with strong square shoulders that one could depend on.
Norman brought a BYO bottle of cheap Pak N Save red wine, but Diane didn’t want to drink so Norman put it back in the paper bag.
“He’s changed,” thought Diane.
Norman toyed with his food, tiny morsels of raw fish. Yuk! He didn’t like Japanese food. In fact, he didn’t like anything Japanese. His father had fought in the leech-infested jungles of Borneo during the Second World War and Norman had been brain-washed that anything Japanese was bad. Norman’s bedtime stories were all about the evil Axis Powers and how they almost conquered New Zealand. His father was an old geezer who brought him to rugby games and Anzac Day memorials. During the playing of the National Anthem, he taught Norman to hold his cap over his heart and sing without embarrassment.
“Norm, is there something the matter? You seem to be fidgeting the whole evening.”
“Diane, you had always told me to upgrade myself, now I have the opportunity.”
“Good on you,” Diane replied though she was obviously disappointed that it wasn’t what she wanted to hear.
“Gary and I are going start an import trading business, but I don’t have the capital.”
“Oh? How much do you need?”
“I need $30,000.”
“You want me to lend you $30,000? You know I don’t have this kind of money.”
“No, I don’t want to borrow your money. I want to mortgage the house.”
“Mortgage the house? The judge said that the house was not to be sold until Sarah is eighteen.”
“I said mortgage, not sell, Diane. I will make the monthly interests payment and pay back the loan when the business makes money.”
“Norm! Norm! I don’t like this, but what am I to do? Half of the house is yours, it is very hard for me to say no. I will never forgive myself if I stop you from your one opportunity of getting out of the rut you are in.”
“Does this mean yes?”
“Yes, remember you are to return the loan when your business starts making a profit.”
“Thanks Diane. I knew I could count on you,” and hesitated wondering whether he should kiss her.
Norman and Diane walked quietly down Queen Street to their respective vehicles at Civic Theatre car park and then drove to their respective place of abode; Norman, to his rental unit in Avondale and Diane to their once matrimonial home in Kingsland. Norman was beaming with his success in deception, and Diane was apprehensive - had she done the right thing?
Three months later, Gary rang Norman to say that Emma was coming at last. It had seemed to him like waiting for eternity. He had spent more than thirty thousand dollars to get her over. Thirty thousand dollars, Norman was wondering where he would find the money to return to the bank. But he didn’t care. Norman removed his greasy grey overalls and slam dunked them in his over flowing dirty laundry basket. Norman glanced at himself in the mirror on the top of his vanity. He was forty seven, and his beer gut was getting bigger and bigger by the day. His hair was thinning on the top and his cheeky daughter Sarah had teased about getting a toupee for his balding patch. For his birthday, they even got him a copy of Jed Diamond’s Male Menopause. Cheeky rascals and buggers for them to tease their old man – that he was getting old and experiencing mid life crisis.
The whore Anelasini really hit it below the belt. She laughed at his little male member calling it his LITTLE brother, so little that even her little island boys’ little brothers were bigger than his and no amount of the little blue pill could help him.
“Too much booze, too much smoke, too much fatty food and too much TV have added ten years to your sad sorry body,” his ex Diane had sarcastically remarked to him.
Norman stepped into the shower stall and tried to tuck in his stomach. He scrubbed himself until he was pink and sore. He shampooed his hair so much that he was worried more strains of hair would drop if he shampooed any longer. Diane had always said in disgust that no amount of scrubbing would remove the grease smell.
In the shower, Norman thought of the day before when he had asked Tom his son out to Burger King. He had hoped that as a son, Tom would be more sympathetic toward him.
“Tom, I hope you understand. Your mum doesn’t want me any more. A man has his needs. I have arranged for a Filipino girl to come over and be my wife. Here’s her bio data.”
Tom had a quick look at the bio data of a girl almost his age.
“Stuff you! dad, you cradle snatcher. You are getting an Asian Child bride as young as me, and you have the audacity to ask for my understanding.”
Norman shook his head, got out of the shower and briefly dried himself with water dripping from his hair. He brushed his teeth and gargled with Listerine. He had never bothered with gargling before.
Bloody Diane had often sworn, “Your breath is worst than the Mangere sewage treatment plant.”
Then he sprayed the adhesive to glue the toupee on his bald patch and tried to make it blend with his own hair to make it look as natural as possible. Somehow, it always looked unnatural. It looked worst than Donald Trump’s hair piece. Norman put it down to his own imagination.
Norman shaved and sprayed Old Spice cologne and put on a clean pair of trousers and a buttoned up shirt.
“To hell with the whole lot of them,” as he thought of his estranged family.
“Here, the new Norman comes!!!” as he dreamt of beautiful luscious long haired Emma.
He started his ute and drove down Hillsborough Road to George Bolt Memorial Drive to start his new life. He parked the ute at the airport carpark and he clutched her beautiful coloured photograph and waited at the entrance of the arrival hall. As Norman scanned the passengers coming out of the arrival lounge, he saw many Asian girls but he saw no diminutive long haired Asian girl that he was waiting for. May be she missed the flight, thought Norman.
“Hi Norman, I am Emma” the woman who spoke to him was no eighteen year old, she was more like forty. She was fat, short and pear shaped.
“Oh, hi, where is your long hair?” Norman was taken aback.
“I cut it, my cousin said it is cold in New Zealand, it will be easier to maintain short hair in the cold weather.”
“Bloody hell, I fell in love with your long black hair,” said Norman.
“It will grow back very fast, don’t worry.”
“How did you gain so much weight so quickly?”
Norman got no answer to his question.
Joe and Gary were hanging around the door of Norman’s flat waiting to see the “investment” that Norman had made - his mail order bride.
Joe asked, “Gary, are you sure that this is the right girl? She sure ain’t tiny or small or beautiful.”
“Norman brought her back to the flat, didn’t he?” asked Gary.
“Gee! She is so voluptuous that you think she is a milking cow. The jeans she is wearing have such tight legs that they accentuate her fat bum. She makes me want to puke.”
“Pisst! You shut your trap, don’t you let Norman hear what you just told me.”
When they got into the house, Emma excused herself, she was tired after a few days of traveling and flight. While she was in the shower, Joe and Gary took her handbag and fished out her passport.
“You boys should be ashamed of yourselves, going through private property,” said Norman.
These big tough men had suddenly become speechless. Joe was right, Emma was no eighteen year old chick. She was a thirty eight year old mother hen. Norman wanted to wallop Gary, and Gary pleaded ignorance. It was too late for a refund or to send Emma back.
“Look at it this way, at least she has a curvaceous figure. You may think diminutive girls are very nice, they have a flat chest like a wash broad, and it’s no fun hugging that.” Gary said trying to save his neck.
“Come on boys, this calls for a celebration,” said Joe trying to defuse the situation. They went down to the pub and Norman treated them rounds and rounds of beer though he did not feel like celebrating. He was thinking of his investment going up the smoke. He was thinking of the beautiful sexy long haired Emma.
If Emma lacked in looks, she made up in being a good housekeeper and in bed. She was subservient, hot to trot and Norman lived like a king. He couldn’t get used to being bare footed in the house, and she made him wear bedroom slippers. When he felt too lazy to take off his shoes, she knelt down and removed the shoes for him, and put on his bedroom slippers. There was never a dull moment, and there was never an empty moment. Norman enjoyed the cold beer she gave to him when he sat down, she massaged his shoulders, she trimmed his hair. Norman took to living as Lord of an Asian wife like a duck to water.
When Norman came home, he put his feet on the coffee table.
“Get me a beer, I am bushed,” he said brusquely as he gave Emma a gentle slap on her bum.
“Yes Norm, Yes, Love.”
Everyday, while Norman was at work, Emma sat in front of the TV watching soap operas Days of our Life, The Young and Restless, Emmerdale farm. In the evenings, she watched Coronation Street and East Enders. She learned her rights as a Kiwi wife from the TV and longed for a lifestyle of the American soaps and imagined to be married to an American soap star instead of the blue collar worker and red neck Norman. She tried to watch cooking shows and cook exotic food. But Norman wasn’t interested. He was a Kiwi bloke and had never gone any where, not even across the ditch to Australia. He liked his meat, peas and spuds. Isabella counted the months, then days, to when she would be released from the “Norman” prison and when she would get that important paper, her PR and that stamp in her passport, so she would be gone and free to love and live with the man of her dreams. Emma did not worry much or feel guilty resorting to this fraudulent method to find a permanent home in New Zealand. Many of her friends were doing the same thing, a short time of sacrifice was worth the while. Some of them even dupe their husbands and clean them out of everything they had - money, furniture, cars. No, she won’t be so callous as that, she just wanted that PR status. Yes, she did enter into a marriage contract. Nobody could accuse her of a farcical marriage or making use of Norman. She felt like a prostitute when Norman slept with her every night and got his cents worth. She hated the rough callous touch of Norman’s fingers and palms as he pawed all over her body. She hated his greasy smell. Norman made her work like a slave and kept her in the house all day. Emma herself did not gain financially; the agents organizing the website pocketed every cent of Norman’s $30,000.
Sometimes she wished Norman would punch her so she could report him and get a restraining order. She watched this on TV: she would be freed of him earlier. But that was the trouble with Norman was, he didn’t believe in hitting a woman.
“A man never lays hands on a woman,” though this gentleman’s policy did not apply to his tongue.
“I had to endure Norman’s taunts, verbal assaults that undermine my self-esteem and self-confidence. He’s always saying, ‘You’re stupid! What would you know about it, You are just a Filipino woman. Of all the beautiful mail order brides available, I am landed with such a fat and ugly whore like you.’ Can you stand such insults?” Emma complained to Imelda.
Gary had cautioned that he was to keep Emma inside the house, the same way he kept his Marie. “You never trust these women, some of them are dysfunctional. They come here for a marriage of convenience. Once they are legal here, they either bring their young dudes here from their home country or they run off with another Kiwi bloke. Don’t say I didn’t warn you”
Norman said, “Oh! Why didn’t you tell me? But it won’t happen to me. Emma is very good, she won’t do this to me.”
Norman was traveling a lot. Emma had asked his permission to go shopping with a Filipino woman. Imelda was another mail order bride, who had been around much longer. Norman felt there would not be much trouble since Emma was hanging out with Imelda. Imelda seemed a happily married woman with children. Without Norman’s knowledge, Imelda was teaching Emma the rights of a Kiwi woman.
“Norman treats me very well.”
“But does he have money? Wake up girl, your Norman has nothing and he has two children who are brats and pests. When they come, they treat you like dirt. You got to think of yourself. That’s why you came here in the first place, didn’t you? You don’t take care of yourself, no body will, mark my words”
Norman and Emma were living in an old house which was subdivided into two units. The two units shared a common entrance and hallway. The next door unit was sold, and the new owner was renovating the house himself.
“Hi, my name is Robert, I have just bought the apartment next door. I like a cup of coffee but I forgot to bring me some milk.”
Emma was excited, a shiver ran down her spine. The most beautiful, full brightly coloured semi-circle rainbow came down from the sky. At the end of it was her pot of gold. Here was a handsome young blond Kiwi man in his thirties at her door. The only Kiwi men she had spoken to were Joe and Gary and they were in their fifties and blue collar workers. They didn’t count, as they were Norman’s mates. Norman had warned her to lock the door and not to talk to anyone. But Norman wouldn’t mind and he wouldn’t find out. Robert was their new neighbor and he was asking for milk.
Here was her tall, well tanned handsome prince, a real hunk of a man, and his image burned in her memory. Robert was gorgeous with his blond hair tied at the back into a pony tail. He had a little butterfly tattoo on his right hand and a studded diamond ear ring. His swimming pool blue eyes mesmerized her as they gazed into hers. Robert was everything that Norman wasn’t. Norman was a rough labourer who liked his potatoes and beer. Robert looked like the type for fine wine and dining. Norman just sat and watched TV, Robert would go to the theatres. In a nut shell, Norman and Robert were as different as night and day. Robert was her Robert Redford come alive from the silver screen.
“Hello! Am I getting any milk?”
“Oh sorry, I will get you some, you like some hot water too?”
“I’ve got my thermo flask, but freshly boiled hot water would be very nice.”
And so it became a daily routine. The flat took six months to renovate. The morning cup of coffee progressed from the common hallway into the lounge of Norman and Emma’s flat. One day, Robert’s hand accidentally brushed against Emma’s hand. Emma felt an electric shock from the contact. Her stomach clenched, Robert’s eyes stared lovingly in a dreamy gaze. There were stars and sparks in their eyes. Emma turned her face and tilted her head to stare at his deep blue eyes. He had such a handsome distinctive face. She felt her heart palpitate faster and faster at the intensity of his gaze.
A little bird was reminding her of what Imelda had advised, “You want something girl, go get it. It is that simple.”
The Radio 1ZB played, “Love is in the air.”
Robert said, “Emma, I wanted to make love to you the first moment I set eyes on you.”
“It is love at first sight for me too.”
“Let’s go to bed.”
Emma said, “I can’t, I am Norman’s wife.”
“Emma, he doesn’t love you, the way he berates at you, he treats you like a slave.”
After some coaxing, Robert said, “Norman is traveling, he won’t know.”
Here was her prince with his own house. Norman was old and had nothing. With Robert pressing hard on her breast and pawing all over her, Emma felt a sensual excitement that she did not experience with Norman. Instinctively she led him to the bedroom. They were soon in bed and Emma reached out to stroke Robert’s hair and chest. Robert was a great lover, nothing like Norman who was always in a hurry.
Filled with guilt and fear, Emma told Robert, “Please go, we mustn’t do this again.”
The temptation and forbidden fruit were too great, everyday Emma was anxiously waiting for Robert to come, each time it was going to be their grand finale so they made it extra special.
“We got to stop, we really must stop.” But both of them were too weak. They had fallen too deeply in love or rather in lust, and there was no return.
Some evenings, when Norman was away, Emma would sneak off and meet Robert to catch a movie. They thought they were very smart when Emma got on a bus and got off at the next stop to meet Robert. It was their secret rendezvous, and that made it more exciting. But most of the time, they just preferred to be in each other’s arms in bed and whispering sweet nothings.
One evening, Robert took Emma to Princess Wharf. It was the first time in her time in Auckland that Emma had been to the wharf. She saw the waves crashing against the bow of the ship. She imagined herself with Robert sailing away back to the lovely islands of Philippines.
Robert snuggled into her, and said, “It will be like the Love Boat.”
Robert then drove her along the coastal road of Tamaki Drive. They felt the salt air against their face. Robert drove the windy road up the slope of Bastion Point to Salvage Memorial. The cold strong wind whistled about her ears. She was freezing and chattering.
Robert wrapped his strong arms around her and whispered, “Let’s make out now.”
He was the first man who had been so tender to her. It was too cold and the wind was howling outside to get out of the car. Emma imagined herself the heroine at the back seat of a Chevrolet in a drive-in movie. She snuggled into Robert and could smell his delicious musk smell, it wasn’t like Norman’s obnoxious stinking body. Emma wished this moment would go on for ever and ever and ever.
Robert said, “Now the icing on the cake.”
Robert drove up to the summit of Mt Eden. He showed her the volcanic crater. She felt breathless at the panoramic view of the city, standing on top of the summit. The lights of the city and the sky tower were so enthralling. Norman had never taken her out from their apartment. She was always cooped up in the apartment like a prisoner.
Robert teased,“ Do you know what people call the Sky Tower?’
“No, what is it?”
Robert whispered into Emma’s ear, “It’s got a phallic shape!”
“What does fillic mean?”
Robert whispered in her ear again and laughed at her pronunciation of phallic.
“You naughty boy!” and Emma gave Robert a playful slap on his wrist.
Robert grinned, “It wasn’t made up by me, every visitor to Auckland says that.”
Emma felt like a schoolgirl who was playing truant from a convent school, only she was running away from a nun called Norman. Her thoughts gave her a jot of reality. She felt a tinge of fear when she remembered she would have to go back to the prison that Norman had created for her. Norman was such a boorish, arrogant, aggressive male chauvinistic pig.
Emma got off the bus, dreamily wishing the night did not have to end.
“Oh my God!” Emma exclaimed as she saw Norman’s old pick up parked in the car porch.
Apprehension gripped every cell in her body. She had been playing with Russian roulette by going out with Robert. A cold wave of fear ran over her and she had never felt like this before. She felt half tempted to run away, but to where? To Imelda? She hesitated. Imelda would not and could not help her. She had her own old man to deal with. Imelda’s husband, Jason would not take her in. When Emma composed herself, she hatched up a story.
When she opened the front door, Norman was drinking his Lion Red beer.
“Where the hell have you been?”
“Imelda called urgently, one of her kids had food poisoning. Jason and her had to drive him to hospital. Imelda called me if I could baby-sit until they got back from hospital.”
“Couldn’t one of them have stayed at home?’
“Imelda couldn’t drive, remember? And Jerry clung on to Imelda so tight and won’t let her go, so she had to go with him.
“Don’t be a bloody Samaritan next time. I want you to be home when I come home after a long tiring trip.
Emma went whew, how easy it was to cheat Norman.
Emma visited Imelda and her report of Norman now changed from “Norman treats me well” to “I want to leave Norman, he flirts with other women in the pub in front of me, he has become a grumpy old man who nags and nags like a fussy old woman.”
“Emma, Kiwi men do that all the time, especially when too much booze get into their heads. It doesn’t mean any thing. Remember you still haven’t got your PR.”
“I know my rights, I watch it all the time on the TV, ‘The Young and Restless.’ I can leave him if he subjects me to mental torture.”
“How is that may I ask?”
“I suffer from his sexist and racist jokes in silence. He compares me with his first wife. He always says she is so perfect, and he was a bloody fool for leaving her and wasting $30,000 to get an old stupid hag like me. He gets angry and flies off his handle for no reason.”
“You met her?”
“Yes, she’s been to the house when she comes to pick up the kids on their visitation day. These Pakeha women, unlike Filipino women, don’t hate their husbands’ new wives. In fact, you know what she told me?”
“She said, ‘I am the ideal wife for Norman, quiet, submissive and have no ambition,’ unlike herself. She and Norman are like chalk and cheese.”
“So you be happy, Norman would never go back to her.”
“The bitch, she is just condescending with her high and mighty attitude, I don’t care, Imelda, I want out.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I can say he wants his wife back. He is always saying I am brainless, Diane is a very beautiful and smart woman. She is no dumb blond, she won the office manager of the year. She is better and more adventurous in bed than me, she is a tall, slim and sexy woman, unlike me. I am a short, frumpy and bloated blubbery sea lion. He said, ‘Diane is the embodiment of everything I ain’t got, and he was blind to leave her.’ If this is not mental torture, I don’t know what is.”
“Norman should take a good look in the mirror. But if I were you Emma, I would tread carefully. Bear with it for a little while, Norman spent $30,000 to get you over. It is a lot of money for him. He will not let you go so easily.”
“Imelda, you are not helping.”
“I am just being helpful and reminding you to be careful, I know girls have been sent home.”
Robert finished his renovations and moved in to his new house. They worked out a system whereby Emma would knock a few times on their common wall, and Robert would be in her apartment in a flash. Robert was a free lance writer so he could be at home any time he wanted.
Emma felt she was blessed and thought she was in seventh heaven. Imelda told her that she was playing a dangerous game. But drunk in love, Emma and Robert did not take any precaution. They flung into each other’s arms the moment they saw each other. Then they jumped into bed.
“Imelda, I can’t stand it any longer, Norman explodes into a rage over nothing. At a drop of the hat, he screams that I am a whore. I want to leave him.”
“Have commonsense, Emma, You know you can’t leave Norman until you are here long enough to get your PR. If you leave him now, the immigration department will deport you. You just have to bear with it.”