The Receptionist

I'm feeling good when I get to Vinh. The 150 flat kilometers were fast and easy, even with a headwind. I let out a low whistle when the pretty receptionist at a small hotel quotes me 150,000 dong (US$11.50) for a room. She immediately lowers the price to 100,000 dong, but this is still much more than I like to spend. Further bargaining is to no avail, but I return when none of the hotels in town offers me a better deal.
I've learned enough Vietnamese at this point to flirt. This is no great accomplishment in a country where the course of a normal first conversation includes "How old are you," "Are you married," and "You are very beautiful." It's pretty easy to just add a gleam in the eye, and more often than not, I find myself gleaming.
After dinner, I return to my room to hear karaoke blaring through the wall from next door. When I approach the receptionist to ask for some earplugs, I have trouble getting my point across, and next thing I know she's gliding across the courtyard to my room to check out the problem. In the room, the flirtation continues, and I start thinking, oh boy, oh boy, I'm gonna get laid. My excitement is born of frustration from having fathers and mothers offer their lovely young daughters to me every day. To marry. But premarital chastity is preciously guarded. So my jaw drops when Nga says in english, "I want to sleep with you, please come to reception," and glides back out of my room.
I splash cold water on my face, realizing that she must have said "I want to speak with you." I am as much in demand as a subject for English practice as I am a marriage prospect. So I grab my dictionaries, English-Vietnamese for me and Viet-Anh for her. Sitting side by side on the reception couch, the suggestive banter continues as well as it can with furious paging back and forth. Oh boy oh boy, when you least expect it.
As Nga pages through my phrasebook, I suddenly get a sinking. Sinking feeling. Idiot, you fool, I mutter to myself, shaking my head. She is making fun of our initial conversation, imitating my bargaining. Stupid numbskull, damn. And she writes in the margin, 10 do. Ten dollars. You moron, here you are chatting up a prostitute. Hitting on a whore. Way to go, slick.
I limp to my room to toss and turn until the karaoke finally silences.

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