Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jul 30 2007

Ruse on the subway

On the way to work today a woman sat down next to me on the subway train. At a peripheral glance she seemed about 20. Long black hair, heavy makeup, a tight black skirt and a gold blouse with transparent black sleeves. Shiny black high heels with golden bows on top. A little gaudy, but nothing particularly out of the ordinary.

A few moments later, however, I became aware of a heavy stench. I assumed the seat behind me was recently occupied by a sweaty construction worker who had spent all day repairing blocked sewer lines, but a glance around made me realize it was coming from the woman sitting beside me. Taking care not to stare openly, I took another look, and was surprised to see that her bare legs were covered with blue veins, her feet wrinkled and dry. Her hands, holding a shiny black purse, looked like the hands of an old woman.

A number of people got off at Kuting Station, and I switched seats to avoid the smell. From there I could see the woman’s face, and sure enough, under the makeup the face of an older woman, possibly about 60, showed through. She sat upright, her gaze kept slightly down, not looking at anyone but seemingly aware that her disguise might not be holding up as well as she had hoped. I wondered what the point of the act was. Was it for her job? Did she work in an office, living in fear of being forced to retire? But her attire suggested something more along the lines of a karaoke bar, one from several years ago. Did she perhaps sell betelnuts? From a distance, viewed through the dirty windshield of a little blue truck after a long day’s driving, she might seem alluring to a tired trucker. Or was she someone’s grandmother, with no means of support, raised in the rice fields but now forced to come to the big city and play the part of a much younger woman in order to feed her family?

I got off a Taipei Main Station, but the woman continued on, out towards Danshui and her date with the target of her mysterious ruse.

posted by Poagao at 11:19 am  


  1. i’ve seen a lot of old taiwanese women who dress young. she must have been over the top for you to take notice, but maybe she was in the same vein/vain. they don’t realize how ridiculous they look to us (but maybe not to their fellow countrymen). my mother-in-law was like that. she used to be a real beauty. she would always wear sparkly stuff.

    Comment by v — August 1, 2007 @ 10:15 am

  2. …raised in the rice fields but now forced to come to the big city and play the part of a much younger woman in order to feed her family?

    eww…don’t take us there. Sounds like you’ve got a story for your next movie.

    Comment by Prince Roy — August 1, 2007 @ 10:20 am

  3. I’ve seen many instances of this as well, but usually the women in question are actually in their 40s or maybe 50s. This was a much older woman, at least 60 I’d guess.

    I’ve already got a story for my next movie, PR, but this might be an interesting character to add to it.

    Comment by Poagao — August 1, 2007 @ 12:30 pm

  4. Remember, it’s a lose-lose-losing situation. If you are old and let yourelf look like it, you are an ugly old bag. If you are old and dress and wear make-up like a young person, then you are “teenile”, a sad, pathetic wannabe.

    Mick Jagger can be old and sexy, just as Omar Sharif, Sean Connery and a whole host of males with eyebrows growing together, wrinkles galore, and veins popping out of various locations. They are “sexy mature men with an air of confidence and experience.”

    Janice Dickenson, Cher, not so much. They are laughingstocks, not sexy.

    And yes, oh hell yes, it is an extra burden in the workplace. Not so sure about the sheer sleeves (just now barely catching up on business-appropriate attire for this side of the pond), but yeah, I’d buy that she’s coating herself to keep her job.

    the smell however, I got no clue.

    Comment by zhara — August 20, 2007 @ 10:30 pm

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