Clutching a ticket for the night train headed south, I stood outside the hostel in the dim evening light and said goodbye to the friends I had made in Hanoi.
Adam worked at the hostel, and had just arrived on the back of a Vietnamese man’s motorbike. They shook hands like friends, so I asked Adam if he’d arrange for this man to drive me to the train station. I hopped on to the back of his motorbike and waved a final adieu as we tucked into the tangled traffic.
“You and Adam make-a boom-boom?” he asked me over bubbling the noise of the engine.
“You and Adam make-a boom-boom?” this time with pelvic thrusting.
Ah, he was asking if I had had sex with Adam. A standard kind of enquiry. What?!
“No, we’re just friends,” I answered, trying to hide my indignation, pretending I wasn’t completely taken aback by his brazen vulgarity. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, I thought.
“You like-a boom boom?”
What do I say? “Um, that’s a very personal question,” by now, starting to giggle a little bit.
“I like-a boom-boom,” pelvic thrusting again. Oh my gosh!
I’m not sure if I was trying to divert the conversation, or spark some sense of responsibility in the man’s mind; I asked, “Do you have a wife?”
“Yes, but make-a boom-boom many women,” now reaching back and stroking my leg! Shit, wrong question! But at least we had some silence for a little while after that. And then…
“You like a leekie-poosie?” At first I wasn’t sure what I had heard.
“Leekie-poosie.” He turned his head and demonstrated enthusiastically, flapping his tongue about in front of his face like a chameleon with Tourettes, somehow managing to punctuate this terrifying display with a self-congratulatory grin.
“How far is it to the train station?” I asked, timidly.