Phnom Penh Vixen: the sad smell that lingers - desperation

Phnom Penh Vixen: the sad smell that lingers - desperation


Desperation doesn’t smell, it reeks. But can you detect the reek on yourself? 

I picked up a whiff recently and it was an awful realisation, closely followed by paranoia, then furtiveness. How many know?  I thought.

Like the whiff of vomit on hair, it’s likely that the drunker you get, the less you will smell the scent of your own despair. But do other wasted people continue to smell it on you?

The question has even haunted me at that hub of deperation Pontoon – where lingerers make up 70 per cent of patrons and pheromones go to die.

There’s only one temporary cure for desperation – and sadly it’s the idea of this, sex with the desperado, that so readily turns off potential matches. For the long-term sexually desperate, pariah syndrome takes hold.

Their friends wish that someone, anyone – but not anyone they know – would end the cruel cycle with a mercy root.

I had a friend, Duncan, who was sexually desperate for about two years. He was a stand-up comic – the only performing art unconducive to getting laid, he said.

When he finally cracked it and found a willing woman, the dual side of the desperado – the user – came out and his partner, presumably realising her role as a mere drought-breaker, fled.

Like many male desperados I think, rather than pacifying him, sex instead inflated Duncan’s ego. He became like a bear hungrily preparing for another winter. No one was out of bounds: little sisters, exes, professors, psychos – he attempted to drag them all back to his cave. A surprising number were up for it.

Being desperate isn’t necessarily the same as sleazy though: it’s a kind of suffering and sometimes suffering draws out the most ardent behaviour in people.

Some of the sweetest words ever said to me were from a guy I met at a board games party who was wincingly, apologetically desperate.

It was a big turn off at the time, but he’d developed a kind of admirable persistence in the face of it. He more or less announced that he was a desperado in a long email, straight after we met. (I’m not sure how he found my email address, but the desperate person always will.)

He told me how he felt over the phone, while, I’m ashamed to say, I was hiding from him. When he called I was a mere hundred meters from where he was having lunch.

I could even see him sitting at a cafe. Ducking down a side street, I explained once more how busy I was and how far away I lived – such insurmountable odds to dating, you see. I didn’t see how he could possibly not be discouraged.  

“That’s ok,” he said. “When you’re in town, call me and I’ll be free – even if I’m not free, I’ll probably cancel what I was going to do and pretend that I’m free.”

When I think about his words now, they don’t seem that desperate  – heartfelt, if anything.

And now that I’m similarly reeking – who am I to judge?


  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National