I first met Lea when we participated in a four-day training in her home country, Vietnam. But I did not really take notice of her because she acted and dressed modestly. It was only one year later when we had a three-day follow-up seminar in Jakarta that she caught my attention. Our country delegations were seated in the same table and it was then that I started to notice her charm behind her shyness. I also suspected that I had caught her attention. On the first day, we were asked to introduce ourselves to the other participants seated at the table and then nominate someone else whom we would like to introduce themselves after we were done. Of the 10 of us, she picked me.
We were seated apart from each other on the first day but I took every chance to strike a conversation with her during breaks. By the second day, we were seated next to each other. I learned that she was a medical doctor and was married with young kids. She also had a mild sense of humor – as much as her Confucian culture could afford her. Trying out a seduction technique I got off the internet, I tried leaning a leg next to hers to see if she’d move away or maintain physical contact and, true to her conservative demeanor, she moved away. I thought – as far as theory goes – that was not good. If she had not moved, that would have indicated that she was comfortable with a little contact with me. At least, that is what the author of that web posting said. Anyway, my hopes were sort of dashed and so I was only too happy when she suggested that we can go out for coffee after the group dinner that evening.
Since a number of my fellow delegates knew me personally and professionally, I thought it would be prudent not to make it so obvious for them and so I decided to sit with others during dinner and it just so happened that I was seated next to the administrative assistant of the conference organizer who was young and pretty and carried a good conversation. It was a big mistake and I realized it soon after I saw Lea’s awkward reaction when we walked past each other as we were being shown around the mall right after dinner. I didn’t get to have coffee with Lea that night. She promptly disappeared and, since I didn’t know her room number, I couldn’t contact her.
In the morning of the third and last day of the seminar, I noticed that she took a different seat from the previous day, even though the seat next to mine, which was where she sat the previous day, was still empty when she came in. I approached her during the morning tea break and she was rather distant. She sat with others during lunch. But she started to warm up to me again by the afternoon tea break and so we got to sit next to each other during the group dinner. We agreed to go for some ice cream right after.
As it turned out, looking for ice cream at nine in the evening in that part of town wasn’t so easy. We ended up buying the last couple of ice cream on sticks from a diner where the staff was busy cleaning up in preparation for closing. We walked around the block as we ate our treat until we decided to sit in a partially sheltered space along the sidewalk. We talked about work and family life for a good hour and a half. She brought up the topic about ‘how men are’ and I responded with the topic of ‘how women are’. Then it started to drizzle and I asked her if she’d like us to ‘go back to our hotel’. She agreed and we promptly walked towards the hotel which was just a couple of minutes away. As we walked towards the elevator, I saw that there was a big group of people waiting there and, thinking that I still needed to work out if she was open to having me come to her room or vice-versa and a crowded elevator wouldn’t allow me to do that, I sort of pretended to make an inquiry at the front desk hoping she’d take my cue. She didn’t and, by the time I realized that, she was gone.
It took some half an hour or so for me to find out out her room number and work out how to call her using the hotel phone which was annoyingly not too user-friendly at that time. After finally managing to call her, I fumbled with what to say until I cautiously asked: I was wondering if you would… you know, if I could…’
And then this seemingly shy woman surprised me by helping me out and asking: ‘Would you like to come to my room?’ Of course I lost no time to say ‘yes’ and run up to her room.