The men were never suave, they were usually the opposite. Ordinary, middle aged and run of the mill. The majority of them were married, some of them lived with their wives, others were working away from home. They all had something in common perched up at the bar in Jakarta. They were M.I.A.
Missing in Asia.
Women who were often more than half their age and size would stand by their side, giggling while they fawned over them. "You very handsome".
My girlfriend had her doubts, she'd started to suspect. He told her no, that there was no way. He told her he loved her. He admitted that with the travel that was required, there had been the temptation - but he assured her she had nothing to worry about.
She knew though, she just couldn't say it out loud.
There were more trips, and then it didn't matter if he traveled or not, the distance was there.
And then finally, a year later when they were out for dinner she made a statement that was really a question "you're not messing around are you?"
"Yeah, I am".
And that was it.
Twenty years, five countries, two beautiful children and it was over.
She sent me an email at Christmas "I begged him to stay, I wanted to try and work things out, I feel so badly for the children. He doesn't want us, we're going back to England."
His thirty year old girlfriend moved in the day after she moved out. She can barely speak English. I'm not sure how they communicate but she supposedly makes him very happy. I really want to believe that it's true love, because the alternative is so hideous.
And so we return to the cliche. On their first posting, before the children came, she worked and their expat experience was much the same for both of them. When the children came along, the juggle was too hard. It was always about his career, he traveled a lot, she would have like to have returned to work but the logistics got in the way and they never knew how long they were around for.
He still has a career, she still has children, except her logistics have just got harder.
She'll be fine, there were tears last night when we caught up, but she's strong and she'll get stronger. He on the other hand, I'm not so sure.
If you're missing in Asia, you may just be considered lost.