Help wanted: Able-bodied, handsome men required to wine and dine as many women as their schedules permit; some extracurricular cosseting may be called for. Educational requirements: None. Salary: Enough to make a salaryman gag.

With a job description like that, it's little wonder that confident young blades in cities all over the land are lining up to apply for jobs at "host clubs" -- those characteristically Japanese bars and restaurants where the male staff do whatever it takes to make their female clientele feel very, very welcome. As in, "Darling, where have you been all my life?" welcome. As in, "Backrub with your bubbly, baby?" welcome.

As far back as the 16th century, there were establishments catering to the desires of women wealthy enough to afford the high cost of men for hire. But while for women of earlier ages the price of a bit of philandering could be ostracism, a nunnery, exile or worse if she was found out, her modern descendants can take their pick of host clubs and party with impunity.