relationship

My seven years in a Hong Kong girls’ school (Part 1 of 2)

After spending nine years in a co-ed kindergarten and primary school, I faced the first crossroads in life. I had to choose which secondary school I was going to, and my mom couldn’t care less about it. I was never a straight-A student, but my grades were good enough for her not to worry about me. Knowing that I shouldn’t expect too much from a laissez-faire mother, I asked myself what I wanted to achieve in the coming years. I came to the conclusion that I wanted to be in an environment with as few distractions to my studies as possible, as well as a school that provided a good academic environment. I picked a Catholic girls’ school that had several decades of history, but wasn’t too historical or elite-school like.

The flock of white dresses passing by overwhelmed me when I entered the school on that first day in September. Having spent nine years in a co-ed school, my brain was trained to filter out the boys in class – except the cute ones maybe. I found it stressful to memorize a doubled number of names (I never tried to remember the boys’ names in my class). I was uncomfortable with the changes at first, but after a month or so, I started enjoying the eye-opening experience.

I thought going to a girls’ school would save me from those chick-flick problems: girls wasting time talking about their crushes and neglecting their studies. I was wrong. Girls still gossipped about each other’s crushes: handsome looking tomboys. And even worse, girls fought with each other for the good catches. We had a terminology to categorize different types of lesbians:

  1. Tomboys (TBs), boyish girls. The popular ones were mostly on the school basketball team.
  2. TBGs, girly girls who went after the TBs.
  3. Pures, girls who did not dress in a way to show their preference.

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I was shocked at first, but not soon after I found myself caught up in a bizarre love rectangle with my good friend, her crush, and her crush’s ex. So apparently I had become a TBG. The puppy love only lasted for three days (about which my friends still tease me), with lingering pain caused by a broken friendship. When I told my mom what happened, I saw a sign of relief on her face. It surprised me that the risk of me getting pregnant worried her more than me admitting that I was lesbian/bisexual.

That was my first and only experience of “dating” a girl (we only held hands though), and I was never again in a relationship with a girl. It was childish, but this most-remarkable part of my first year in the girls’ school enlightened me about what homosexuality is. From our peers we learned that sexual orientation is personal and a normal part of life. As some of our classmates realized they were only attracted to girls ever since they were in primary school, most us discovered that they were born this way, and there’s nothing wrong with it. No matter what her sexual orientation is, a girls’ school student is less likely to be influenced by biased opinions on homosexuality.*  

Some of the girls became lesbians out of curiosity, or because of the lack of attractive males in their social circles, and they started dating guys after getting into universities. They were the LUGs: Lesbians Until Graduation. In retrospect, our experiences as LUGs removed the veil of guilt and shame of having a different sexual orientation than most people. We learned the importance of respecting one’s choice of who he/she wants to be with, regardless of the partner’s gender.

Of course, our school did not like the idea. Not soon after my graduation, I was told that the school became so homophobic that girls were not allowed to hold hands with each other – even if they were just friends.

Meh.

*Research findings also suggest that exposure to and contact with homosexuals brought about more positive attitudes toward homosexuality. “Effects of social contact with homosexuals on heterosexual Turkish university students’ attitudes towards homosexuality.” Sakalli N, Uğurlu O. J Homosex. 2001;42(1):53-62.

My first (and hopefully the last) speed dating experience

I used to think speed dating events were for desperate individuals or socially awkward ones – until I realized that it’s too expensive to get into a club for New Year’s Eve countdown.

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It was two years ago when my friend Eva* and I decided to be festive and go to countdown together. We wanted somewhere with a heated atmosphere, but entrance fees for most clubs were at least HK$500 per person that night. We thought about going to Times Square, but meh, we didn’t want to stand and wait there for hours. Luckily, Eva came across the advertisement below:

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I never expected to join a dating event, especially at the age of 22. In my opinion, it’s just not that hard to make new friends as long as the person has a brain and can engage in a normal conversation. So I always thought speed dating was for individuals who lack social skills or those with really small social circles. That being said, I tended to think that people who went to speed dating tended to be more genuine than those who pick up girls at clubs or who use dating apps. Nothing wrong with speed dating, but I just didn’t think it was for me.  

But this speed dating countdown party was a good deal: if Eva and I signed up together it would only cost us HK$570 in total (with drinks included), a better deal than anywhere else in LKF on New Year’s Eve. So we signed up for the party, and from mid-Dec onward our conversations were mostly about this speed dating thing. Our guess was that the quality of girls would be higher than that of the guys, and we seriously hoped that people there would be normal, or at least not too weird. At one point I even suggested that we pretend to be a lesbian couple to keep the guys away. Well, but later we realized that some guys may find that hot… 

We were relieved when we arrived at the club. People looked pretty normal there, and yes, the girls were obviously in higher leagues than the guys generally were. At first we just stood up against the wall, sipping on our drinks. When the organizer saw me standing there, arms folded with my resting bitch face on, she came to me and said “open yourself~ open yourself~”. A friendly and pretty lady she was, but at that moment I just wanted to laugh.

Open yourself (image source)

The organizer made the attendees exchange mobile numbers with each other, and each of us had to gather more than ten phone numbers in order to get another drink. I hated the idea but I did give out my number. I forget why I was so dumb that I didn’t fake one though (was probly afraid of the embarrassment if the guy dial the number immediately). A Chinese guy got my number and texted me three days after the party. My guess is that he went through his list of numbers and texted the women who interested him the most, but the result was unsatisfactory so he began to text his second tier. I didn’t reply to his texts. Apart from the fact that he wasn’t my type, he was just too lame.

There were mainly three types of guys at the party:

  1. “The predators” who went straight to the sexy women
  2. “The gentlemen” who politely chatted with anyone near them, but waiting for the chance to approach a more attractive one
  3. “The friends” of the organizer, usually good-looking, basically they just stuck with the people they came to the party with

As far as I remember, Eva and I didn’t even bother to dress up that night. Ruled out by the “predators”, we had a good time chatting with the “gentlemen” and “friends”. Without the need to meet a potential partner, we simply said whatever came up in our minds, i.e. we talked shit. When one of the organizer’s friends told me that he was going to invest in a canned fish business in Indonesia, I did a SWOT analysis for him. The guy was like, “oh you’re in the food industry?”. “No, I was just bluffing.”

The age range of the male attendees was wider than that of the females. Most of the women were in their twenties or thirties, and a few mature looking ones. For the guys, no matter how old they were, all of them went for the hot and young women (especially those in low-cut, bodycon mini dresses). There was a 50-ish woman at the party, well-dressed but received no attention at all. There were older guys in the club, but every guy just went for the hot and young women. I couldn’t help but think about what people often say: guys always prefer young girls. It might not be true all the time, but I still remember that picture of a mature woman standing by the bar, waiting for someone to talk to her.

The party wasn’t that different from other social events that I’ve been to, except that attendees were made to exchange numbers. Later I kept running into one of the guys when I worked in Central: he was just too noticeable with his 5”-tall hairstyle. The lame Chinese guy who texted me showed up at the language school where Eva took her Mandarin lessons, and was her teacher for awhile (nothing happened between them, it was a big class). All of this reminds me of how Hong Kong is such a small place.

So it turns out that speed dating isn’t that much of a scary or embarrassing experience, and I do see the need for such dating events in Hong Kong, given the long working hours and the intense competition for guys. If I were single again in the future and it gets too difficult to meet new people, I might consider this as one of the ways for me to do so. But as I’m very happy with my current relationship and that I’m hoping it will last, I hope that it’s my last and only speed dating experience.

*Much thanks to my friend for letting me write this story. As a token of thanks I let her choose her pseudonym, was expecting something more exciting than Eva though…