If I Were a Better Person by Preston Jones


If I Were a Better Person

on Facing Up to Lost Chances & Lingering Regrets

I was preparing for an online Vietnamese language class with a teacher in Saigon when my mind drifted and took me to Nha Trang, where I had been six weeks before. Overrun as that beach city was by Russian tourists, it was possible, briefly, to forget that I was in Vietnam. The Vladimir Putin t-shirts sold by street vendors added a curious touch. I wish I had bought one.

On a certain street, a middle-aged prostitute set up shop. I walked that way often. A few times she appeared beside me and described her services in rough terms. I wasn't in the least tempted, but, not wanting to be rude, I pointed to my ring and said, "I'm married." The third time around, she anticipated the response, grimaced, grumbled "I'm married," pinched my rear, and walked off.


Preston Jones teaches history at John Brown University.

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