Teenage boys in the early 70s were not supposed to like Joni Mitchell, but once I loved to France in 1982, I loved the line from FREE MAN IN PARIS."I was a free man in Paris."My freedom remained unfettered throughout the next two decades and while living in Thailand, I changed the lyrics slightly, "I am a free man in Bangkok."I could have added 'middle-aged man', except extra syllables threw off the phrasing.Back in the early years of this century I was hanging around Soi 6 in Pattaya. I liked the bars on that short block. The bar girls had great stories and I didn't have to speak with the sex-starved farangs interested in a short-time romance. My favorite bar was the Viking. The dingy three-story building had a first-floor bar drenched in eternal night with two upper floors crammed with bedrooms dedicated to happy endings. I sat at the corner with my dog and Ping. The twenty-one year-old beauty was finishing a Spy Wine Classic and said, “I used to work massage in Bangkok.”“Where?" I had gone with her several times. Our conversations were ping-pong matches of Thai versus Farang living."Mona Lisa. Not same here. They change sheets and cleaned room after each customer.” Ping had started at the New Petcharburi Road massage parlor a month after her second baby’s birth. She had been 19. “I have many customers. Maybe four one day, but China men finish fast. One Korean man I lick his nipple and he finish. Another I massage his back with soap. He finish.”Most of the men going to the Mona Lisa at that time were Oriental. Thais 1500 baht for 90 minutes. All others 2000 baht.“And then they have to leave?” The math on four men a day meant Ping serviced about 1000 men a year. Dangerous, although Ping had said they have to use a condom. No exceptions.“No.” The thin-framed girl shook her head. Long hair floated like vapors about her face. “Have to give massage too.”“And how much you get?” I figured half.“700 baht.” She slid over on the sofa. Her soft hand expertly caressed my chest. She had learned the lessons of instant seduction from pros. “But I get tip too. First Thai man give me 8000 baht. Give me phone too. He only like to go with virgin. Pay 30,000 baht for one. But he like me. One day maybe have 4000 baht.”“Good money.” More than a $100US, but the girls had to pay for make-up, hair, food, and costume rental to work behind the glass of the selection cubicle.“I can’t work more than 4 day one week. Too tired.” Ping weighs 39 kilos and she was tall for a Thai girl. Her thinness is due to a thyroid problem. “Many girl go 7-10 time one day. I not strong like them. One day I meet Scotland man. He want me stay with him. Girls have a party and I say good-bye. We live together 3 months. He go out drinking every night at Nana Plaza. I not like drinking and stay at hotel. I not love him, but think okay can be with him for my babies. He give me 40,000 baht one month.”“I don’t remember you telling me this.” She had told me many stories, but never about a Scottish man. I was jealous of him. 40,000 baht was over $1000.“That because you old man and brain no good.” She kissed my neck with the tenderness of a runaway.“Yeah.” At 55 my memory could salvaged little from so many talks with friends and fiends.“He think I have Thai boyfriend and leave me for Nana go-go girl.”“And you go back to Mona Lisa?”“Cannot.” She would have suffered nah sia or lost face. “I come to Pattaya and work on Soi 6. Not good. farang not same Thai men. Take long time to finish. I have one friend she still work there. Say only have fat girl.”“Maybe you should go back.” Ping was skinnier than Kate Moss.Some men like that look. I was one of them.“No, fortune-teller say I meet man here. He stay with me long time.” Ping's eyes shined with hope, but she also understood the game. “Not wife, but mia noi. Okay, if he take care my baby.”“Good.” I liked drinking with Ping. Not that she had to work someplace like the Viking. She had said that the first time she went with a man, she cried inside her body, but told herself that she had to do it for her babies.I gave her a tip and went out in the bright sunshine of the afternoon. More than 300 girls were on Soi 6. They shared the same story as Ping. Everyone in the West can condemn the women for what they have to do, but Soi 6 and Mona Lisa are the only avenue for a woman who can’t say no to the love in her heart for her children.MONA LISA MASSAGE changed its name to LA BELLENew Petchaburi Road near the corner with Asoke Road.TEL: 02-252-3955 Price B-Course Body Massage - 1,500 - 1.5 hoursSuper - 1,800 - 2 hoursSide line - 2,000Russian girls - 3,000 -1.5 hours I am not a free man anywhere anymore.Kids kill the beauty of freedom.