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Blog #25: Would you rather be “manly” or would you rather be loved? (Meet Owen)

Each post is a great fucking adventure

As Seen On
by in Sex & Dating
August 27, 2018 0 comments

“Saw your number on escort.”

That’s what Owen’s text message said.

“Where?” I text back. I’m provoked. What the hell? How is my phone number on an escort service?

“Tinder. You looked kinda intelligent though. Let’s hang out.”

I text back: “Sorry you got the wrong number.”

Owen replies: “Hey we can hang out if you want…that’s not necessary. I’m down to meet new peeps.”

Is it potentially weird and crazy to talk to a man who is soliciting prostitutes on a dating app? Yes. Definitely.

Actual Me says it’s a terrible idea. But, Writer Me is running forward at full speed.

I take the bait: “I’m not an escort. But I am looking for people to swap dating stories with. Want to meet up and just talk? I’m writing a piece on this.”

Owen replies: “Let’s hang out. I like to hang out and talk in person.”


We meet up at a cafe in San Francisco on a Saturday afternoon. I’m sitting on a bar stool, one of the only available seats, but then I think about it. There will be no physical barrier between us, which leaves a lot of room for him to touch my knee or shoulder. That is not going to happen.

I want to know: How did this guy get my number? Is some rejected dude from my past handing out my digits? Am I getting pranked?

A few minutes later, Owen calls me. He’s standing outside: a carefully dressed, cologned, 5’5″ Asian guy in his early 30’s, wearing a fitted shirt, sunglasses, and jeans. He sidesteps my outstretched hand by trying to give me a hug as soon as we see each other. I use my free arm to brace myself at a strong distance, preventing our bodies from actually touching.

“Sorry, I’m friendly,” he notices me holding him away. He holds out his hand. I shake it.

“Oh. I’m un-friendly,” I say sincerely. I’m not really interested in some unknown, prostitute-soliciting guy touching me for free. Also, I’m in the middle of some personal relationship drama and I’m not interested. I’ve been hit up 5 times in 3 days, including once from someone who wanted to send a taxi for me across the Bay. I’m jaded off dick. At the same time, I’m recovering from my last ex’s broken promises. I’m couchsurfing. I’m exhausted. I’m not sleeping enough. I’m losing weight daily. I am apologetically, but politely, unfriendly.

Owen and I get some coffee and cross to the park. First, I need to know how he has my number.

It turns out I’d given him my number months ago, when I was catfishing for interviewees with my Belarusan actress profile. He’d texted. I’d told him I was out of town. Later, when he’d texted again, I hadn’t replied (probably because I’d found other interviewees).

So, he’d set up a separate number and faked that he thought I was a prostitute in order to provoke me into replying.


It’s weird, but common. Why get hung up if a girl you’ve never once met in person doesn’t text you back? How fragile do you have to be not to take rejection from a complete stranger? I keep this to myself.

Owen’s fluent in English, but I can tell he’s a native Vietnamese speaker. He tells me he is Vietnamese, and he never knew his Korean mother. Since I don’t remember him at all from Tinder, I ask to see his dating profile, and he gets leery.

“Are you going to stalk me?” he says. I stare at him like he’s an idiot. Because that question is idiotic.

“I’ve already seen your Tinder profile,” I say obviously. He still doesn’t want to show it to me:

“It’s personal.”

How is it personal?” I say incredulously. “Literally, thousands of people across the Bay Area are looking at it right now.”

He still won’t show it to me. He’s afraid I’ll stalk him. I’m weirded out by his lack of logic.

“First, I’ve already seen it. Second, you already gave me your phone number,” I explain frankly. “If I really wanted to stalk you, I have enough information for that.” The other obvious point is, why would I stalk him? He’s not rich, famous, or an ex-boyfriend, and those are the only 3 reasons I know of that people get stalked.

Owen finally opens up his phone and shows it to me. It’s the typical boring profile- mostly photos, no text. Nothing I recall. I’ve swiped on literally hundreds of profiles indiscriminately over the past year and his is nothing special. I shrug.

I give the backstory of this blog as we look for a place to sit. How I started this whole project after multiple conversations with my Asian American guy friends, fed up with society’s stereotypes messing up their dating lives. Owen nods in understanding and opens up quickly after that. Also, he’s impressed that I bought him coffee. He’s launched into his dating philosophy of removing limits, and quotes Bruce Lee’s philosophies. He tells me he never knew his Korean mom, and was raised by his Vietnamese father in San Jose. He’s a local, works in human services, and is a former youth leader.

We test out a spot on the grass near the tennis courts. Owen hands me a jacket to sit on. That’s thoughtful.

“Do you relate to these guys who say they feel like racism gets in the way of dating?” I ask.

“The key is self realization and self worth, and not worrying about what others have to say. We are molecularly just atoms,” he starts.

Wait…. I’d been expecting a “yes” or “no.” I’m not able to follow him. Owen continues:

“This black man/white woman thing… we have to get rid of that fucking hierarchy mentality. Get rid of that shit. We are all human beings.” He goes on: “You have to overcome your fear and enlighten yourself. It’s like jumping off a plane….you feel fear, but then you’re free.”

I’m guessing he’s trying to say he’s experienced problems. Also guessing he’s talking about undoing our internalizing racism. But, it’s still unclear: overcome our fear of what? Enlighten ourselves about what? I’m sort of lost.

I try to connect his answer back to my question: “Are you saying Asian American men shouldn’t limit themselves by just thinking of themselves as someone nobody wants?”

“Exactly,” he says, satisfied. Several trees away, a homeless woman sleeps. Fresh-faced college students pass on the sidewalk. Two women, a couple, put down a blanket, strip down to bikinis, and lay on their stomachs. This is San Francisco. We share what little nature there is.

“Like coming up here, I thought I could get arrested, but instead I meet a very respectful and mature lady.”

I’m thinking Owen has a strange habit of linking thoughts, without explaining himself fully. I’m lost again. How does being surprised to meet me relate to experiencing racism? He’s on his own planet with his thoughts. I ask him how old he is.

“About your age,” he says.

“I’m older than you,” I correct him firmly.

“I’m 28,” he says. You’re 27, aren’t you?” he asks offhandedly.


“What?? No fucking way.”

It sounds like a line. But, one that doesn’t work on me. If he’s undone his internalized racism, I’ve worked to undo the social bullshit of “youth” = “good” and “aging” = “bad,” so I just nod and smile. I don’t say “thank you,” because after all, what’s wrong with being seen as 37, if you really are?

Owen’s overall philosophy is Pickup Artist meets Catholic boy. On the PUA side: “you have to be dominant and masculine” and “you have to be mysterious.” On the Catholic side: “The key is not worrying about what others have to say… we are equal in the eyes of God.”

I press him to be clear:

My Question: What kind of advice would you give to an Asian American guy who feels like racism hurts his chances of finding a good woman?

His 3 steps read like a spiritual guide:

1. Let go of yourself (who you think you are / should be).

2. Accept yourself and know you are weak.

3. Evolve, learn, and grow.

He adds: “everything and nothing is right and wrong. That stage is called “enlightenment.'” He’s “not enlightened yet,” he says, but he’s “working on it.”

So, Owen definitely has a habit of linking together partial-thoughts. I can’t figure out if he has ADD, social awkwardness, or just some struggles with grammar. Or, am I the one having trouble? I’ve pulled what I can from his thoughts, but what is he trying to say about enlightenment again?

We need to get more concrete. So, I ask, how do you approach a woman?

Instead of answering, Owen’s gaze falls down the street, where a blonde girl in a red T-shirt is walking down the sidewalk.

He leaps up and stops her, mid-stride.

The girl stops to talk to him. I can’t hear what he’s saying exactly, but it starts with, “You look so sweet.” He adds something about being lost, and how she looked really friendly walking down the street. He asks her for a hug. She hugs him.

“I’m new to San Francisco,” he explains. “I’m showing my friend around. Meet Elisa,” he brings her over to me and we shake hands. I close my laptop and smile, feeling like a guilty accomplice.

“I’m also new,” she confesses. “I’m from Cleveland and I’d normally not be walking around alone, but it’s safer in San Francisco.”

“Yea, you looked a little lost while you were walking around,” he says. She smiles at him. “But people are so nice here. My friend is actually just writing about if it’s weird to go up to strangers and say hi. But you seemed so cool. You don’t think it’s weird, do you?”

“No,” she says innocently.

“People here are like hippies, they all hug each other.” He hugs her again, and she hugs him back. “See?” She laughs. “Hey, would you mind giving me your number? If you’re new, maybe we can all go out later tonight.”

The girl enters her phone number into his phone. “Sure,” she says. “I’m about to meet up with a bunch of friends. Maybe we can all go out in a group.”

I’m fascinated.

Owen says thank you, and hugs her again. This time, he draws his arms around her waist and as she pulls away, he looks into her face like he’ll kiss her. She gets a little bit startled and excuses herself.

As she leaves, Owen looks at me. “I messed up at the end,” he says. “I freaked her out by escalating too much. But she gave me her number.” He sees the look on my face. “See, I upped my value by introducing you and you had your laptop. And I was just myself. I didn’t think that I was going to try to pick her up. Instead, I just went for it.”

I see. He looks at me typing furiously and scoots over just behind me.

“What are you typing about me?” his chest touches the back of my right arm. I scoot away from him quickly.

“I’m typing what you’re saying,” I say, pointing to my screen, keeping my personal bubble of distance. But, I laugh with amusement. Instead of telling me his points, he’s demonstrating them.

“You moved away, and that’s how I know you’re experienced. You’ve dated a lot. Or, you’re in your 30’s.”

Uhm, yeah. Both of the above.

Later, I probe Owen about his experienes with escorts. He tells me vaguely that a lot of women who don’t call themselves “escorts,” could be labeled that way if they wanted. Everyone wants to have sex, he says, but some women are “in financial need” and need you to pay for things. Escorts are “everywhere,” he says. “You have to unlock a woman’s desire first,” he proselytizes. I want to know if he seeks out prostitutes, but he won’t clarify. I back off.

Eventually, we leave the park to go to a burger joint next to my car.

“It’s my first time in San Francisco!” he exclaims to the cashier, a young brown-skinned girl with a slicked-back ponytail. He orders and goes to the bathroom. When I step up to the counter, she asks me:

“Is that your friend?”


“He’s cute,” she says, “because he’s so excited.” Okay. I’m impressed.

Over burgers, Owen confesses eventually that he would like to get married someday. He’s not hopeful. “I made a mistake of letting my walls down too much,” he explains about his ex.

I don’t challenge him, but….. Isn’t the purpose of a relationship to be open with someone? To have them know you? To let down your walls so you can let someone in? This “mystery” bullshit he’s spouting…. it works in the moment, but it doesn’t make a relationship last.

He’s been giving me his theories, but Owen doesn’t want to talk about his past. “Those are personal,” he says, shying away. He wants me to talk about my life instead. I’m perfectly happy to, but first he has to stop evading me. Some people base their theories on sexist stereotypes or books. Others base their theories on experience. I’m curious where his come from.

Finally, Owen confesses he was cheated on once, with the biggest love he’s had so far: a woman he dated for 2 years. His current philosophy appears to be, “If you don’t call it a relationship, it won’t hurt you.”

His words remind me of myself. One way to overcome the pain of betrayal is to pretend that you don’t care. But, that’s ego. And that wall only creates loneliness.

We high five when we’re done. It’s a better compromise than the hug we started with. I tell him I have to go. We make plans to hang out later in the month.

Later that evening, I’m writing this up. I text Owen to ask how long he’s lived in the Bay Area (22 years). Also, was he born in Korea? He texts back and asks if he looks Korean. I say I don’t try to guess ethnicity based on physical looks. He says he is not Korean–he’s full Vietnamese, and he was “teasing” me. I’m annoyed.

“Did you also really not know your mom?” I confront him.

No, that was a lie, too.

“It’s tough for me to open up to someone completely when I know nothing about you in exchange,” he replies.  I’ve seen lots of people afraid to open up, even unafraid to share their favorite songs, their feelings, or their opinions.  But….he thinks talking about his ethnicity is opening up?  This level of fear is a first for me.

For all the numbers Owen might get, he is one lonely guy.

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Each post is a great fucking adventure