"Saw a doco on Odessa last night," went the email from my friend in Brisbane. "It was about the raging sex industry there. Said it was the Bangkok of Europe. Now I know why u went there ;)". Thai comparisons are still a bit of a stretch, but the Irish bar on the main drag is often full of seedy, older, German and English-speaking men and I've already met too many foreigners here who live off undefined "internet work" (online marriage agencies for the most part).
One of them - a fast-balding, thirtysomething American with manboobs and a jagged scar on his forehead - used to live in my flat, which seems to be enough of a link to merit conversation. "Is the bed still propped up on metal? Yeah? Sorry, I broke that," he leered by way of introduction, extending a sweaty hand. "This hot chick totally checked me out when I was walking past the pizza place. I would've gone in and spoilt her boyfriend's night but I'm already fully booked. Got a date tomorrow and a choice of two for the night after that. They're both smokin' hot." I must've looked dubious for a second, because he finally paused for breath. "And I've got the photos to prove it." And the receipts too, I thought sardonically. "Man, what is it with this place? There is nothing on this menu worth drinking. Give me your number and we'll go out sometime. I'll have to hook you up."