The highs and lows of fidelity

“You must be worried,” said C. Must I? I’m not entirely sure what she means but as she’s just been detailing her annoyance about the single Hong Kong girl’s aggressive pick up technique I’m presuming she means I must be “worried” about my husband. But why exactly, about him having a one night stand, an affair, about him leaving me? Well thanks for putting those thoughts in my head C!

For the truth is I haven’t thought about it. That is, no more than I would have in London. While Hong Kong is full of beautiful, scantily clad young things – particularly in the Central office district where my husband works – so too is London. And New York. And any other major city in the world. In fact, the possibility of infidelity is inescapable – the suburbs and villages are more than capable of producing their fair share of adulterers, male and female.

I recently read a piece in The Times where a man claimed to have the inside track on expat wives’ lunches in Hong Kong. He decreed that we inevitably talk about “amah drama” – live-in helpers not only enjoying extra curricular activities with their gweilo employer’s husband but, gasp, marrying him.

I can honestly say I’ve never heard the phrase amah drama. Clearly I’m not mixing in the right circles. Or going to the right lunches. Or maybe this is just the attention grabbing, made up media construct it smacks off. How does a guy know so much about wives’ lunches? Hasn’t he got better things to do, like working hard so his wife can go to Zuma every day. And the only people I know who still use the phrase “amah” are British boarding school kids who left HK long ago and are possibly fending off the Eastern European nanny in Fulham as I write.

Admittedly I have met one woman who said that women with live in helpers “always think” their husbands will run off with them. But being as we were at a party hosted by her divorce lawyer and that this had happened to her, she would say that wouldn’t she.

Minxy Filipinno maids aren’t what C is getting at at all though. A single twentysomething, she’s referencing the gorgeous Hong Kong girls she’s up against in the bars and clubs who she claims home in on every Western male in a suit. “Expat men are disgusting. Every one I know is having an affair,” she declares. Fortunately, she has doesn’t know my husband. It’s a bold statement but I let it go as I’m thinking it has more to do with her own relationship issues with her ex British banker boyfriend than anything else.

Another friend, N, tells me that single British women usually go home not because their expat packages have run out but they can’t find a partner – all their male counterparts choose Chinese girlfriends. There’s an interesting flip side to this. R, who has been married forever and is the most confident woman I know in Hong Kong says it’s her Chinese friends married to gweilo husbands who are worried, “They know their husbands like Asian women so they don’t let them out of their sight.”

Of course, I have the odd, fleeting pang but like any sane person I swiftly push it to the back of my mind. While I was still an editor in London a remarkable young woman told me that she doesn’t let her mind “go to dark places”. And this was someone who survived not one but two highly risky brain tumour operations. She simply won’t let herself ask “what if?”. Sounds like good advice to me. Hong Kong homing missiles in fake Herve Leger dresses? Amah drama? Meh!



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