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Indonesian Journal: Bulls, Beer and Mystery Sex Pt. 2

The second of three parts.


Part One: The blood of the Madurese tastes like cow.


The women of Madura are not only physically beautiful, with softer, rounder facial features than their high-boned cousins on Java, but they are said to practice a kind of superorgasmic, dick-milking squeeze during sex that reduces all men to quivering heaps of baby talk, marriage proposals, and, for the Christians, religious conversion.

This is common knowledge and fairly open conversational game among men across Java and maybe even all of Indonesia, where heterosexual sex and its availability is a constant topic of giggling guy talk.

(The availability of sex here is still a mystery to me; my adult male friends front like practiced Lotharios but I get the very strong sense that they're mostly all very schoolboyish and unpracticed in the dirtier sexual arts. Pornography, while available, especially on the very porous Internet, is officially banned here and during a recent college debate-club exercise I listened as the students and their instructor argued whether soft-core T&A horror movies of the Cinemax variety constitute actual porn. Many said yes. Any skin, any necking is porn. It's not polite.)

A friend was in a cab in Surabaya a couple weeks ago and talk turned to the bull races and to Madura. The cabbie lit up, launching into a grinning disquisition on Maduran women that my friend could not understand. No Indonesian? That's okay. The cabbie made his point clear by clamping his right index finger inside the tightly closed palm of his left hand. He jammed the finger into his palm, back and forth a couple times, and smiled widely. Penetration. Ya?

The cabbie also taught my friend another hand sign: Tuck the right thumb between the index and middle fingers on the same hand, allowing just the tip of the thumb to protrude, maybe as deep as the cuticle. This means either Fuck You or, in the words of an Indonesian friend, I Want to Get Fucked. Use it when cruising in Madura, the cabbie suggested. Uh, terima kasih. Thanks.

* * *

The night before the races, Pamekasan's alun-alun, the downtown square, was crowded with young couples on motorbikes, young families on foot, vendors hawking clove cigarettes and fried tofu, spectators streaming in to watch a traditional Maduran dance on a temporary stage. I went out to see the scene and, if I could, to find some beer.

I don't drink much here and traveling with four American friends - all here, like me, to teach high school English - made me thirsty. We were talking and laughing a lot. God, did it feel good to speak idiomatically!

So I headed out with J.T., a shyly handsome former Teach for America volunteer from Ohio, into the hot and humid, drizzly night to find some beers. At Indomaret the shelves were empty. We asked at the counter and were told we'd have to find Pak Budi. Where is Pak Budi? J.T.'s Indonesian isn't bad and he heard the answer as: Down the street, take a right, look for an orange light.

Off we went, in the Indonesian way, stopping for directions every couple minutes. Do you know Pak Budi? Yes. Is he nearby? Go straight. We asked some young cops, Where can we find some beer? They looked confused. You want beer? Yes, beer. They looked at each other. You need to see Pak Budi. Do you know where he is? Go straight, then left.

We finally found Pak Budi when someone waved us onto his front porch 20 minutes later. We'd walked by the place a couple times, thinking we were looking for a storefront. Nope, Pak Budi operates out of his living room. Come on in, boys. Have a seat.

Pak Budi is a large and vaguely androgynous man who's missing the thumb on his right hand. I didn't ask about it so I have no idea. He wore a gray sleeveless t-shirt and khaki shorts and sweated steadily. His breasts and soft gut filled his tank top in a sad, sagging way and he served us hot beer from 24-ounce bottles he retrieved from the kitchen.

At 30,000 rupiah each, they were heavily overpriced but, then, Budi's household speakeasy is the only game in town. We bought one and drank it from handled glass beer mugs while Budi and his friends watched English soccer on TV. Several elaborately carved and colorfully painted birdcages hung overhead, their too-orange and lime-green garishness overwhelming the plumage of the simple songbirds trapped inside each one.

We asked for beers to go and Budi returned from the kitchen with three more bottles, bought in Surabaya and trucked four hours to this very spot. Is beer legal in Pamekasan? Not exactly. It's illegal? Maybe. But the cops sent us here? I didn't ask that out loud. Budi opened the beers and poured them into empty water bottles, then bagged up the water bottles and pointed to my backpack. Put them in there. We were scoring beer. I haven't done that since high school. Illicit beer! We thanked Budi and rose to leave. But wait. If we like beer, maybe we'd like some women?

Budi's friend, the guy wearing a white Muslim skull cap and sitting on the floor, said he could find some women, if we were interested. He could bring them to our hotel room.

This seemed both right and completely outrageous. Right in that I've been in illicit situations before and usually illicit shit of a certain type, when you're a guy, leads to offers of sex for sale. If the doors are closed or if you're in the right bar or apartment or hotel room, someone's going to ask if you're looking for a chick. So even all the way over here, in this crucible of Indo-Muslim conservatism, vice is vice is vice. It seems almost quaint that beer is a vice that equals whoring but I get where the guy was coming from. Still, whores?

I was curious enough and had J.T. ask the guy how much. Not here, the guy said. We can talk about it down the block. He'd catch up with us soon. We walked through the night market near where the guy said to wait but we never saw him again.

On the way back to our hotel, a young cop waved us over from across the street. I was carrying 48 ounces of outlaw hootch but didn't think too much about it. The guy wasn't threatening us. He wanted to talk. He wore a khaki uniform and a badge and stood in tall, black military-style boots. His name tag identified him as Imam and he was about 22-years-old.

First Imam asked if we wanted some coffee from a nearby cafe; then he asked us to make change for a crumpled 20,000 rupiah note in his hand. Kind of weird but sure. We handed over our change and he very slowly handed over the 20,000 note, and as we were about to leave he said something like, Stop. I don't know if the rest of it was in English but that's how it's stuck in my head. You want . . .? He stuck his right hand out, thumb jammed between index and middle finger. Seck. You want seck?

Our young uniformed cop-pimp. He surprised us both with the question and I laughed out loud. J.T. spoke for us both. No thanks, Mas. I didn't ask the kid's rates because at that point who cared? The line between legal and illicit had been erased and the sales price, especially for a couple non-buyers, didn't matter. What matters is that you can get what you want in Madura - beer, mysterious sex - and the cops will help you find it.


Tomorrow: Illicit sex good, politics bad.

Comments welcome.


Posted on February 23, 2011

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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