I’m standing waist deep in the Gulf of Thailand and I’m getting peed on. She laughs. “Dah-ling can you help me?” I’m holding her around her waist. She puts my hand on her pussy and laughs again. “Hot Dah-ling? Your hands clean now?” She laughs again. I laugh out loud. I’m in heaven, never been happier in my life. I think of the beginning.
Loneliness is the most powerful narcotic in the world. Don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t snort, don’t shoot.
Don’t matter. She has me from hello.
Her face is an open brown diamond, clouding only with anger or hurt; high cheekbones offsetting a slightly large mouth with perfect white teeth that smile almost constantly; her tiny pink tongue darts between her front teeth when she speaks certain sounds, or is lost in thought. Her beautiful, brown, sad, oval eyes shimmer with mischief and unspoken pain. Her entire face smiles, eyes crinkling and glowing along with her mouth and forehead. The full face smile that knocks me on my ass more than once.
The sound of her voice is sharp, tonal, witty; inducing laughter in her colleagues, stirring deeply in my groin and psyche, inflecting subtleties I’m still not prepared to translate. Her voice can cut through concrete, or become soft as spring rain. I’d give all that I own just to hear her voice again, whispering those sweet, sad words, hot breath next to my ear, strong arms around and across me as we lay in bed talking the night away.
She is everything I think I want.
Four inch heels, low-rise, ass-hugging blue jeans enveloping a butt that teenage girls and middle aged men would die for; tight, blue izod shirt straining against her pink push up bra, straps visible in the open neck; large, brown, pencil eraser nipples prominent in the cold fluorescent glare of the air conditioned eight chair massage shop. She is the most foreign woman I have ever met and she knows it from the first second. She speaks just enough English, with just the right Thai inflections, that I am a goner.
“Me want be funny you.”
That’s what she would tell me in the ensuing days as I fell madly in love with her. That Wednesday, March 12, I did not think that I would ever be with her. Balding American men who sweat do not hook up with hotties. And yet that’s why I came to Thailand in general and Pattaya Beach in particular. Because farang are in demand. For our money, and in rare instances (very rare indeed) for our hearts.
That Wednesday morning I finally knew that I had to quit wasting time. Third day in Pattaya and still no “girlfriend”. Nor “boyfriend”. Doesn’t matter in Pattaya, just make your pick and get on with it. You want a woman and a man? No problem. Two women? Three? Twelve? Just do it. There’s only one reason to be in Pattaya and I wasn’t participating. Could not seem to get interested in the bar girls. Beautiful, teenage and, so I thought, hard as nails. Or beautiful, in her twenties (rarer still in her thirties) and, so I thought, hard as nails. Even a lonely man needs to like the woman. But the reproachful looks I was getting from the townies were enough to drive me into the shop.
Great Massage. As much a name as a state of mind. “What shop did she work in?” “Got a great massage. The one on Second Road, by the Thai food stall.” Narrows it down to approximately one hundred. Unless you’re in town for more than two or three days you’ll likely never find it again. But this one was different. Across the street from Mike Shopping Mall, one of the more notable buildings in Pattaya. Would soon drop a considerable amount of baht in Mike’s pocket.My first massage. And all I got done was my feet. Som did not work on my feet the first day. Worked on my head. Her friend Daeng (they are all friends, don’t ever forget that) massaged my feet. Great job and they never felt better.
Tiger balm, lotion, hot towels, baby powder at the finish, and plenty of strength. All these women have an amazing strength in their hands and arms and souls. They poke a stick at your pressure points and it’s all you can do not to scream. There’s a little bit of S/M in every good massage. A lot of Western tension left my body during that hour.
While Som worked on a pair of hairy German feet in the next chair, she talked to me the entire time I was in the chair in front of Daeng.
“Where you from?”
“San Diego, California.”
“Cally-Forn-Ee-Ah. Me know Cally-Forn-Ee-Ah. Like America. Like Americans. What you do?”
“I write. When I don’t write I work at jobs that I hate.”
I don’t realize it at the time, but I begin the first of twenty-two days of speaking in a ridiculously slow, unaccented, slang-free voice. I’m starting to sweat just making small talk. Same reason I hate to get my hair cut. Trapped. For a smart man I have very little of consequence to say.
I grimace in pain.
“Massage okay?”, Daeng asks.
I peel my eyes from Som.
“Very nice. Hit a sore spot.”
Daeng smiles. She speaks little more English than this the entire time I know her.
The German is watching this interplay with a small, knowing smile on his face. He’s a veteran watching a rookie get welcomed to the bigs. It’s not pretty. But hey, it’s Pattaya. This shit happens a thousand times a day here.
After the foot massage is over Daeng asks demurely,
“Want Thai massage?”
Damn straight tomorrow. But right now I have to get out of here. My head reels with images of the tops of Som’s breasts, as I look down the front of her open necked shirt. I silently praise the designer of the push up bra. None of these women seem in the least afraid or ashamed of their bodies.
Som disappears up a set of loud, wooden steps, half hidden by a ratty blue shower curtain at the back of the shop. The German follows. I’m pretty sure I know what goes on up there. I tip Daeng 100 baht, pay the shop two hundred baht for the massage. Five bucks for the footy. Two and a half bucks for the tip. I think I can fit this in the budget. I’ve never been so wrong. It doesn’t register until weeks later that Daeng waves my tip in her friends’ faces.
Thursday, March 13. As FDR would say, a day that will live in infamy. I go back to the shop, only a three hundred yard walk from my hotel on Soi 11, the Diana Dragon Inn. I walk past four or five beer bars with Russian, Danish German and British names and food and customers. Two laundries, three travel agents, five hotels, four tailors, an internet café. The ubiquitous food carts, hawking everything from deep fried crickets and mealworms to exquisite seafood and pork dishes. The Bunny Bar, full of Thai bar ladies at 11:30 in the morning.
“Sawa-Dee Ka. Welcome handsome. Come in. Have lay-dee for you.”
Can’t stop to talk. I have only one destination. Must see Som again. I walk into the shop, seemingly empty but for me, just past 11:30 Pattaya time. I learn later that Som is always first in the rotation. She’s the best in the shop, with much repeat business. It doesn’t surprise me. She’s the only reason I’m back here. All the women are pretty, some extremely beautiful. And yet I only have eyes for Som. She counted on that. Only a junior high education, but she’s damn smart. You don’t survive in this business at the age of thirty-seven without toughness and smarts. When I find out her age I am surprised. I had her pegged in her late twenties. Even with a hard life, Thai women age supremely well.
“Sawa-Dee Ka. What you want massage?”
“Foot please”, I manage to stammer.
My lack of sophistication is glaring. I sit in the chair and remove my shoes, pseudo-hiking boots I bought because I thought I was going to be trekking through Cambodia and Vietnam after I left Thailand. To this day my passport still has only one stamp. Kingdom of Thailand, land of Som.
Som is asking me if I want a pedicure.
“Oh I don’t think so…”
She points at her fingers and hands, makes a cutting gesture. I get it. Doesn’t want my half chewed toenails to rake her skin.
Can’t stop staring at her face and breasts. This behavior lasts the entire twenty-two days I am with her. She commences cutting. She’s actually very good and my toes look better than they ever have. She smiles as she buffs my toenails to a nice shine.
Next comes the Tiger balm. To this day I like to open a small jar and inhale deeply. It always reminds me of her. Not the Chanel that she liked to wear, but the sturdy, professional smell of Tiger balm that cuts through your nose like a sickle in wheat.
As she begins the massage I realize that she is far and away better at this than Daeng will ever be. She knows the human body. It’s connections, imperfections, weaknesses and strengths. She works my feet like a musical instrument, bringing forth pain and gasps and amazing relief. She keeps up a steady stream of chatter, not allowing me to disappear into my usual silence. She mocks my facial expression; no smile, grim frown, furrowed brow. I laugh. It is funny.
“Me want be funny you.”
She asks about my family, tells me briefly about hers, tells me her name. Som. Love the sound. I tell her mine. She has a hard time wrapping her tongue around Jeff. Sounds more like Derry. Hell if I care. She asks several times during the foot massage,
“You want Thai massage?”
“Maybe. Not sure.”
“Want oil massage?”
“Maybe. Not sure.”
“What you do after?”
After the foot massage is over I get a neck and shoulder massage as part of the standard package. As she’s driving her elbow into my right trapezium muscle I come to a decision that will change my life forever. Her mouth is behind me as I sit, inches from my ear.
“Want Thai massage?”
I walk up the wooden steps, no carpet to mask my ponderous footfalls. The stairs give way to a large, open room, subdivided by hanging curtains. A smaller, private room with a door opens off to the right of the stairs. A dozen thin mattresses line the perimeter of the large room, two curtains closed for privacy. Som leads me to a back corner and gestures at the mattress.
“You here. I change.”
She disappears into the private room while I make myself uncomfortable on the mattress. She reappears wearing no shoes and soft blue, flannel knee length pants. Thankfully, the tight shirt (white today) and push up bra remain. She again gestures and I lay on my back. She straddles me to begin the massage and I experience my first erection with Som. It dwindles immediately when she begins to dig her elbow into my right shoulder joint.
“My God, you’re strong.”
“Good for you.”
She works me with her hands and elbows for several minutes. I can’t relax and she feels it.
“Have pain. No good. Make better. Okay for you.”
After another five minutes I start to enjoy having a beautiful woman climbing on me and producing extreme pain. On my back, arms out-stretched to either side, she now uses her knees as well as hands and elbows. Her small, perfect breasts dangle two inches from my nose as she works me. She smells incredible. I would find out later that she is perhaps the cleanest woman on the planet. Five showers a day, douche after even thinking about having sex. My second erection appears and does not abate. She giggles.
“Better more for you?”
“Yes, much better.”
Her phone rings.
“Sorry. Must get.”
She gets to her feet and walks into the back room where she had changed earlier. I can hear her talking in English. Even at this early stage I know it’s a man. English equals foreign man. Thai equals local woman friend.
“You go to hospital. See doctor. Good for you… Yes…yes…I love you. Okay. Bye bye.”
I look at her.
“Him from France. Him love me. Want send me money, passport, go Europe.”
What the hell am I doing? Lying in a darkened room on a thin mattress talking with a Thai massage lady about her French boyfriend?
“Him have pain…”
She points to her throat and mimes a cough.
“Him no go doctor.”
Sounds like a royal pinhead. Take a fucking lozenge and get on with your life, Frenchy.
“Him call to me everyday. Everyday. Want me go France.”
She climbs aboard and resumes the massage. An elbow into my right thigh and then into my right groin. Excruciating pain. I yelp.
“No stop. Good for you.”
“It hurts like hell. Go slower.”
“Good for you. Short pain okay. Make better more.”
I look down the front of her shirt.
She asks me about my family. We bullshit a little. She tells me she’s getting a divorce from her Thai husband.
“Him box me.”
She mimes a fist to the face. I immediately hate this man who could do damage to this beautiful woman.
“No good. Fifteen years. No good. Me crazy. Me think too much.”
“Good that you’re leaving him. Life is too short to be unhappy.”
My God, now I’m Dear Abby. Spouting self-actualization clichés on the second floor of a massage shop, while she digs and digs and I hope, God do I hope, that I will soon experience what everyone says I will experience in Thailand.
“Yes. Better more me no with him. Crazy.”
The phone rings again.
“When you come Pattaya?.. Yes…Yes….Me see you then…Okay…Bye bye.”
“Him from Germany. Him love me, want take care my baby.”
“You have a baby?”
“Have two. Him maybe father first one. Don’t know. Crazy. Know him fifteen year before.”
“How old is your child?”
“Have fourteen year, have thirteen year.”
I’m stunned. No way this woman has two children. Unless she had the kids when she was fourteen.
“Me have birthday number 6.”
“Me have birthday number 6. Number 6…Marsch. Have thirty-seven.”
Again I’m stunned.
“No way. You look maybe twenty-seven, twenty-eight.”
“Thank you Dah-ling”
She digs a little more at my shoulders and biceps, then stops.
She lays on my chest, hair spilling into my grateful face.
“Nice bed. Can I lay on the bed?”
“Good bed. Can I sleep on the bed?”
Whatever you want. Just don’t go away. I would feel this way a lot in the next twenty-two days. She puts my arms around her.
“It’s okay. Good bed.”
We lay there for perhaps two minutes. When my breathing starts to escalate she asks,
“Want oil massage? May-Bee?”
She laughs. She knows my answer.
We stand. She grabs my shorts and shirt.
She disappears again. I take off my socks and shirt and shorts. Leave on the Joe Boxers. I’m still unsure of the etiquette. A very stupid man. When she reappears with an armload of towels and a bottle of oil she laughs again. Tugs on my boxers.
I finally get it. Off come the boxers and I’m standing naked and shivering. She points at the mattress. I lay face down and she covers my legs and ass with a towel. Then she climbs aboard and hoses down my hairy back with oil. As a massage it’s unbelievable. As an erotic turn-on it’s even better. My chubby will not go down. Even though I know it’s part of the treatment I wonder what her reaction will be when I have to turn over. Then she takes the sheet off my ass and digs an elbow into the base of my spine, trailing it down my right buttock.
“Good for you?”
She works my back and legs, digging in, oil providing a slippery trail. Her hands are strong, but somehow feathery as they traverse my hamstrings and tickle the inside of my groin. I twitch. She laughs again.
I think I say something out loud, can’t tell at this point. From head to toe she strokes and kneads. I’m relaxed and charged at the same time. Just like the guide book says. Three cheers for the Lonely Planet. Except those prudes recommended a Buddhist temple. No monk in the world will ever tickle my balls.
She slaps my oily ass.
She nudges my side, prodding me to turn. I do so, towel now a tent. As she works the front of my body the tent twitches. Then throbs when she begins sliding those incredible fingers up and down my legs. She removes the towel and grabs my cock.
“Want me help finish?”
She strokes slowly. What the hell am I supposed to say? I stammer.
“Oh, big dick for me!”
I almost laugh, but stop myself. I know she thinks she’s supposed to say this, but, while many parts of me are big, my dick ain’t one of them. Adequate perhaps, but saying,
“Oh, adequate dick for me!”
doesn’t sound quite as sexy. I decide to relax and enjoy the handy. She’s quite good at it. Soft, hard, fast, slow, her breath hot in my ear, just the right distance away.
My breathing is raspy. I’m very close, but want it to last. She’s so beautiful, so close. I stroke her hair.
“Okay. Okay. Can do.”
Damn right it is! It’s more than okay. I cum and can’t stop. I cum again. She continues to stroke as I soften.
“Good for you?”
“Very good. Thank you.”
She wipes me with a towel, cleans her hand, tosses the towel aside and lays on my chest.
“Like the bed.”
We lay together for the sweetest five minutes of my first week in Thailand. Then it’s back to business.
“Tip me first. After pay shop.”
Fun time is over. I pull my wallet from my shorts. Shit! Didn’t get change before I came to the shop. Only have 1,000 baht notes. Can’t exactly ask for change now. I hand her the thousand. She smiles.
I rise to dress.
I’m an ass.
“Maybe back at the hotel.”
She points to a door I hadn’t noticed.
We enter the shower room and I strip. She stays clothed but doesn’t get wet. Manages to shower me, cleaning off the oil. Good attention to detail. Probably not the first time she’s done this. That makes one of us.
I’m still reeling. Thailand is now my official favourite place on Earth. She turns off the water and hands me a towel.
“You want eat?”
I’m still a dumbass.
We walk out of the shower room and I’m suddenly in the midst of three of her co-workers. They merely smile and go about their business. I stagger back to the mattress and get dressed. We walk down the wooden steps and I pull out the wallet again and pay the shop. 700 baht for the three hour trip. Worth it at twice the price. We leave the shop, stepping out into the oven that is Pattaya at three in the afternoon.
END PART 1
It’s surreal. Three hours ago I was just a dumbass from San Diego, about to dip my toe into the land of debauchery. Now I’m walking down the Soi with a beautiful woman at my side. One who just gave me a better hand job than I ever gave myself. It’s crazy, but I know it’s part of the trip. This is what people (well, men) go to Thailand for.
She takes me to a place called Kiss Food. About two hundred feet from the shop, next to the Bunny Bar. We sit at a table and she speaks in Thai to a waitress who immediately points a large industrial fan at me.
“Thank you. I appreciate that.”
“Thailand very hot.”
“Yes, I’ve noticed.”
I wipe the ever present sweat from my brow.
“What we eat?”
“Thai food. What’s good?”
“Like Thai food?”
“Love it. Hotter the better.”
“I like hot food. You order.”
She smiles again. Have I mentioned that she smiles a lot? I’m starting to surrender to her spell.
The food comes, the ubiquitous pile of white rice, a couple bowls of steaming seafood. Hot as hell and very tasty. She digs in and I notice for the first of many times that she eats like a truck driver at the last supper. The food methodically disappears under her steady work.
I gasp and drink more water.
“Found a chilli.”
She laughs and I almost cum in my pants.
“Have lady in Pattaya?”
“You have lady in Pattaya?”
Because I’m a dumbass and I’m only now starting to understand how this town works.
“Haven’t met anyone I like yet.”
“You want see me tonight?”
“No may-bee. What time?”
“Come back…seven o’clock.”
“Okay. I’d like that.”
I walk her back to the shop and say goodbye.
“See you at seven.”
She’s in the door and I walk back to the hotel. Four hours ago life was very different. Later tonight I have a date? with Som. What the hell does that mean in this town? Run back to the hotel for a quicky before she goes back to work?
It means we eat at the one of the most expensive restaurants in town. La Vientiane. A Lao and Vietnamese place. We sit outside and she orders for us.
“Okay get three?”
“Fine with me.”
She orders three dishes. They’re all great. Chicken that she eats with her hands. Some sort of fried, patty type substance that we dip in sauce. More rice. A seafood soup that is mouth watering. Wish I’d written them down. I just know that they taste good and I can’t believe that I’m sitting here eating them with her. I drink a lot of water, she has a lemonade drink with an umbrella. A Thai duo sings bad American pop songs from the seventies. Before I can make fun of them she says,
“Me like this song.”
“Yeah, it’s nice. James Taylor.”
I don’t bother to explain the dirty little irony of the title, Handy Man. We talk again about our respective families. She, like the vast majority of her co-workers, is the oldest daughter in the family and a good Buddhist. She, like the vast majority of her co-workers, is from Northeast Thailand, Isaan.
Farm country. Poor country. This comes to have more and more meaning for me as I get to know her. She has four brothers and a sister. Mom is in poor health. She sends money to her family on a regular basis.
She has to be back to work at eight. Off at midnight. I sweat some more just to prove that I’m consistent.
“Want see me?”
“Come back twelve o’clock.”
“What you do now?”
“Maybe sleep at the hotel.”
I pay the bill. Almost 1,000 baht. A trend is beginning that I happily ignore. We walk back to her shop. I continue to sweat. We hold hands for the first time. I know I’m supposed to be more cynical, but I sincerely like this woman, completely separate from the lustful urges and images that I can’t get out of my mind.
“You come back? See me?”
Hell yes, I’ll be back. Can’t get this woman out of my mind. Have met dozens of women here, but none make me feel the way she does.
“Sure. See you at twelve.”
That smile again. God, I’m a fool. Don’t care.
By the time I reach the hotel I’m drenched in sweat. Again. Can’t be more than ninety degrees and ninety percent humidity. What is my problem anyway? After yet another shower I fall into a cranky sleep, waiting for midnight.
I time my arrival, get there at 12:01. Fashionably late. At least I’m not pussy whipped. I walk through the door and she smiles that full face smile. The fluorescent hum of the shop lights make me blink like a frog in the glare of a flashlight. She’s sitting on an over stuffed, brown leatherette couch, waiting.
She disappears up those stairs.
Her co-workers smile politely at me. Four of them work on a United Nations of bunions. The shop reeks of Tiger balm. I’m not used to it yet and my eyes water from the intensity. One of the women asks me a question.
“Where you go Som?”
“I don’t know.”
“Nice to meet you.”
She smiles, speaks to her friends in Thai. They look at me and laugh. I’m sure it can’t be good.
We stare at each other. Is she protective? Jealous? Can’t believe that. I’ve looked in the mirror. Curious? All the women sneak glances at me while they work.
Som mercifully reappears in five minutes and saves me from further embarrassment; cell phone strapped to her neck, tight, mottled red and white, three-quarter sleeve shirt replacing the white izod. The fabric clings to her in the same way that I want to.
“Can go Bamboo Bar?”
“Okay. What’s the Bamboo Bar?”
“Fun. Can look music. My friend there.”
“Okay. How do we get there?”
We walk down the Soi, a connecting alleyway that runs east and west between Second Road and the Beach Road. She takes my moist hand. On the Beach Road we get our taxi, headed south. Across the pock marked, four lane street, on the beach side, independent Thai women troll. Not connected to a bar or massage shop, they are the bane of the Thai cops existence.
Technically, prostitution is illegal in Thailand. Special favours between two consenting adults are not. If she wants to hang out with you, and you want to pay her rent, who’s to say no? But if an independent woman walks up to a strange man and propositions him, well that’s
just illegal. Beware of freelancers and Katoeys, Thai ladyboys that would just as soon slit your throat as suck your sweaty Western dick. Twelve or thirteen drinks and many a man has forgotten to check the neck, to his ultimate shame or demise or both. The apple of Adam. Important coaching tip for those of you that like alcohol with your fun.
I’m expecting a metered cab like the ones I overpaid for in Bangkok. Instead we get in the back of a converted, blue Nissan pickup truck with two long, parallel bench seats and a fabricated metal roof. My first experience with the Baht taxi. I duck when I climb over what used to be the tailgate. Off we go down the Beach Road, jammed in with three other farang and their Thai dates. Som leans into me and I put my arm around her. It seems very natural, a posture we strike thousands of times in the course of the next twenty-two days. She has a way of folding herself into me that is very agreeable.We get off at the south terminus of the Beach Road. Walking Street. Closed to wheeled traffic after dark until about 4:00 AM, or whenever the moto taxis decide to re-invade the street.
A five block war zone of Go-Go bars, massage shops, beer bars, seafood restaurants, convenience stores, pharmacies and camera and crap shops. Neon as far as the eye can see, Thai women dressed as school girls, ladyboys dressed as schoolgirls. Western cross-dressers, some of the most butt ugly men on the planet. Why, oh why, do ugly men insist on wearing a tight dress and size thirteen pumps? Doesn’t anyone wear a pants suit anymore? At least get rid of the five o’clock shadow before putting on your makeup.
The women scream at you to “Come in handsome man. Have lay-dee for you!” The signs scream at you. Happy Go-Go. Princess Go-Go. BoyzTown. The Marine Bar, where I never saw a Marine, but did see Thai boxing on the ground floor, sandwiched between two Go-Go bars with grinding women. Walking Street is the largest open air freak show that anyone is likely to stumble across. At times it’s also the most fun you’ll ever have in your life. Men and women from all over the world, all here for the same thing.
But tonight we don’t go to Walking Street. We turn left at the intersection and walk twenty yards to the Bamboo Bar. One large, dark room, with a small dance floor right in front of the stage. Second floor balcony seating rings three sides of the place. They have fans, thank God, and it’s jam packed at twelve thirty with balding farang and their Thai dates.
A tiny, mincing Thai queen gets us a seat. He hugs Som, smiles a strange little smile at me. Over the course of my time in Pattaya (Som loves the dump) I get to like this guy. Very friendly, efficient. Always quick to refill my water. Just like the women I come to know, he gets a big kick out of rubbing my ample belly.
“Me think two baby.”
In the States I would kick his tiny, little ass. Here I just smile and laugh. Must be the attitude and the smile.
Everyone seems to know Som, and they look surprised that she is with a man.
“Me come all time with friends. Don’t have Dah-ling.”
Am I special or is she full of shit? Tonight I reserve judgment, decide to take everything at face value. Much easier that way in Pattaya. If you think too much in this town you’ll just get depressed, and who the hell wants that on their vacation?
She orders a Heineken, I get my usual water. At the hotel minibar the Heineken is 40 baht. Here it’s 165 baht. Thank God naam is only twenty. Like everywhere in Thailand, the water comes bottled with a straw. When even the locals don’t drink tap, go with the purified flow.
We listen to the house band for a few minutes. Two guitars, keyboards, drums. Not too bad. Note perfect songs in English and also some Thai and Lao tunes. Mostly dance music with a Thai flair. The lead singer is a tiny, strong Thai woman with a voice twice the size of her compact body. Nice rack. I wonder if they’re fake.
Som assumes the position, folded into me like we’ve been together forever. This ain’t half bad. A camera toting Thai man gestures at us. Do we want a picture? Goddam right. Need evidence. For myself and my friends. Jeff’s Thailand adventure.
He snaps a Polaroid. I make the universal gesture for “How Much?”, rubbing my fingers together. He signals one. I think that’s incredibly cheap for a Polaroid until Som lets me know he wants 100 baht. Okay, not so cheap, but two and a half bucks for a priceless memory is still damn good. Less than Som’s second Heineken.
We listen to a couple more songs and then a friend shows up. Yet another beautiful, young looking Thai woman with an old geezer even farther along than me. Balding, sloppy drunk Israeli name of Morty. Friend’s name is, go figure, Som. My Som immediately starts giving a large ration of shit to Morty. Morty speaks little more English than “Whiskey” and no Thai. He’s at her mercy.
“Mor-tay. You cry tonight?”
Morty smiles a sad little smile. Som2 pats him on the arm.
Som looks at me, says,
“Him drink too much before. Him cry. Oh, Som, Oh Som…Him fall down.”
She laughs with gusto. God, I want this woman right now on this crappy little rattan love seat with the stained red cushion. Morty looks sheepish. He and Som2 sit down across from us. A fruit platter appears out of nowhere. Watermelon, grapes, crunchy, green Thai mango, succulent papaya and mangosteen, a sectioned, pulpy, white fruit, somewhat similar in taste to a tangelo, but better. I have close to a hundred of these precious gifts in my three weeks in Pattaya. Perfectly bite sized.
Som begins to feed me fruit, first dipping it in chilli salt. My first taste. Definitely not my last. I could get used to this. I feed her. This is shaping up to be a good evening. Then she takes it a step further, feeding me a piece from her mouth, leaning in close, managing a smile around the melon. I lean in to get a bite, juice running down my chin. She laughs and kisses me. Our first kiss. That cements it. I must have this woman. Now and forever.
Her little pink tongue darts in my mouth, flicks my teeth and tongue. I try to return the favour but she withdraws, giggles. She looks in my eyes, smiles and leans in again. We kiss for what seems like twenty minutes, and I know at least one of us is oblivious to his surroundings. Som2 laughs, pushes us apart. I half want to kill her, but a man needs to breathe.
“Som have darling.”
I look at Som2. I’m pretty sure she means me, but as we’ve established I’m somewhat of a dumbass.
“Som no go with man.”
I’m sure it’s all part of the game, but what the hell.
“You special man.”
Suddenly I feel ten feet tall. This is why we come to Pattaya. To believe the bullshit. I look back at Som.
“God you’re beautiful.”
I stroke her hair, run my fingers along the line of her sharp, left cheekbone. Her brown skin shimmers in the dark light of the club. Her full lips open, white teeth parting. I lean in and kiss her again and again, softly. I can’t get enough of this woman. She presses into me, rubbing her face against my chest.
“Good kiss. Nice.”
She looks into my eyes. I continue to stroke her face. She doesn’t stop me.
“You have incredible skin. So brown, so soft.”
She smiles. The house lights come on, dim, but illuminating. The bar is closing. Has it been two hours already? I barely remember the time passing.
“Bar close. Go now.”
Time for my pitch.
“Can you stay with me at my hotel?”
And that’s that. We walk out together, holding hands. Get into a taxi. It begins to pour rain. All of a sudden Thailand is not hot. The temperature drops about twenty degrees in two minutes. We’re okay in the taxi, but it drops us off by her shop, the long walk down the Soi in front of us.
We half run down the alley, laughing our asses off. The food cart vendors are under their umbrellas, laughing with us as we pass.
I point to the end of the alley, still a hundred yards away. Two days later I find out that a different taxi would have dropped us off two feet from the front door of my hotel. Better this way. Memories. By the time we hit the hotel we’re soaked. She looks amazing in a wet t-shirt. Her jeans are drenched, getting tighter, if that‘s possible.
We walk through the open air hotel bar. Two ancient Brits play pool with their tired, sad Thai girlfriends, sipping Carlsberg. I get a couple of wide-eyed looks. For three days they’ve seen me with no one but myself. The only single man in Pattaya is now strolling in at two-thirty in the AM with a dripping wet beautiful woman on his arm.
We climb the stairs to the second floor, still holding hands.
END PART 2
In the room we take what I realize is the obligatory pre-coital shower. Have I mentioned
that she’s incredibly clean ? Later in the relationship she tried to clean my nose out for me when we were in the water at the beach. Sorry sweety, have to draw the line somewhere. I’ll pick my own nose, thank you. But you gotta love the thought.In bed she says the words that every healthy man wants to hear from his prostitute.
“You have condom?”
Let’s hear it for public education programs.
Okay, sex with a condom ain’t so great. Still, it beats a slow ugly death. Ironically, the
French call an orgasm “the little death”. Go figure the French.
It’s so warm and wet inside her. Newness makes it better than it really is. Oddly, it’s hard for me to be in the moment. Can’t quit thinking, My God this is great, I’m really with her.
“I cum to you.”
After a few days of hearing this I realize that she means I cum with you. I don’t believe her for a second, but it’s nice to hear. Almost the second I cum she’s off me and into the shower. I join her, watch her vigorously scrub her pussy. We wash each other, dry each other.
“Oh dah-ling, so cold.”
She’s freezing, the air conditioner is already kicking her ass. I need it Arctic. Can’t put on her clothes, they’re soaked. She puts on one of my shirts. The only clean one I have left; black, long sleeve dress shirt. Only one I brought. That has got to be about the sexiest thing in the world for me. It fits her like a dress. She sleeps in the shirt, no panties, on top of me. “Like the bed. Want sleep on the bed.”
Hell yes. I don’t sleep a bit all night. Keep wondering if I should worry that she’ll rob me when I sleep. Western paranoia coupled with the joy I get from watching her sleep. Her quiet, gentle snores finally convince me that my valuables are safe. Of course they are in the hotel safe, and all of my luggage is locked. I’m cramping but don’t want to move because she might not sleep on me anymore. I could stay this way forever. I like to cuddle. Christ, my shoulder hurts like hell.
She leaves at 7 A.M. March is school holiday month in Thailand and her daughters are here from Bangkok with her sister Pon. She needs to “go take care sister daughters”. She comes back at 10:00 A.M. Time for a quicky before she’s back to work.
It’s the start of the odyssey. I’m sure many faithful Stickman readers are well aware of the pull these ladies have. Som is no different. She’s not 19 or 20 years old, but for me that’s better. It’s bad enough pretending Som is my girlfriend. Doing the same thing with a woman half my age is something this john is not prepared to do.
Then first two days I’m with Som follow the same procedure. I see her on work breaks and we eat between handjobs. Hope she washes her hands well. Whatever else one thinks of Pattaya they really do have good food there. Never eat farang food. Only steamy, hot, spicy Thai. Som tells me that she used to own a restaurant in Bangkok before the ex drank and gambled it into the ground. Is this true? Who the hell knows? Might as well believe it, I’m not her conscience. And she seems to know a lot about food and its preparation.
After she gets off work we go to the Bamboo and “look music” and watch Morty get drunk and Som 2 cry. Back to the Diana Dragon, approving stares from the sad, drunk Brits, a fun hour or two in the sheets and we sleep. Rather, she sleeps and I watch her sleep. At 7:00 A.M. she leaves.
I don’t sleep with her for the first four days we are together. My way of sleeping is to toss and turn and thrash about. Don’t want to disturb her. She’s a beautiful, warm, brown lump next to me. She tells me that she sleeps better than she has in years. Feels safe, warm and comfortable. “With you, me no think too much. Before can not sleep. Maybe three, four hour. Now want sleep all time. Sleep with you. Good bed.”
I spend my time without her sleeping and doing laundry and other sundry bullshit in Pattaya. Steaming around town on my rented motorbike, paying 200 baht tickets for driving without a helmet.
On day two I give her the key and ask her to come back before work. She smiles, happy, I think, that I trust her. I don’t yet, just don’t have anything worth stealing. The hotel staff will rob me before she does. She spends a little time with her sister and daughters and then returns, unlocking the door with an enormous smile on her face.
Som doesn’t much care for the Diana Dragon Inn. I don’t know if she had a bad time there or thinks my status (and as a reflection, hers) would be better in another hotel. Unbeknownst to me she has been looking around town for better lodging. At this point the relationship is still somewhat casual. And then the hammer strikes.
Day three she says she loves me. Soft, after sex, under her breath. I ignore it. I’m sure it’s all part of the act. I had mentioned that I would be going to Cambodia and Laos and Vietnam and seeing the sights there. She jokingly (so I thought) told me “No go Cambodia. Miss you.” Yeah, okay, whatever. Miss my wallet in reality, but I don’t say this, because in Thailand you don’t hit the woman over the head with the fact that she’s a prostitute and you’re a john.
The morning of day three she moves me to the Apex Hotel on Second Road, near her shop. A friend of hers rides up on her motorcycle and she and Som take my luggage to Apex. I wonder briefly if I’ll ever see it again. I follow on foot, after returning the rental bike. The ex-pat Brit who rented it to me has a lovely young Thai wife. Beats the hell out of Manchester in the winter.
As I walk sweating into the hotel my confidence is restored when I see Som and her friend in the lobby waiting for me. I didn’t lock my luggage and for some reason I’m glad that I trusted her finally.
The Apex is definitely a step up and the same price. 500 baht a night. I can’t stop thinking in Western terms. A really nice hotel with a pool and a good restaurant. Second floor, overlooking the pool. Great AC. $ 12.50 USD wouldn’t get me a blanket in the parking lot of an American hotel. Of course, now is when things heat up more.
Basically, she moves in with me. At first a trickle, then a flood. I mention Cambodia again and she cries.
“Go Cambodia, no see me again. I go away sure.”
And so I make a life altering decision.
“I’m not going to Cambodia. I want to stay with you.” I still don’t tell her I love her. My God, man, I’m not totally whipped! Yet.
She’s very happy that I’m not leaving Thailand. She dries her tears and we screw in front of the open window for an hour. I’d like to apologize now to anyone to anyone who was in Pattaya in March 2003 and had the misfortune of seeing my hairy butt doing push ups for an hour.
We go to Jomtien beach for the first time. I have to buy her a suit. She says she has none. Near the end of our time together I see one in her room that I did not buy, but I happily overlook that fact. Never tell her that I know. The suit I buy actually has a skirt. Very strange sense of modesty. “I shy”, she says.
At the beach I meet Lek. She’s a friend/cousin of Som2. Never did figure that one out. We have a fun time, splashing in the water, hanging on the sand, eating food. I draw the line at the bag of crickets that Lek buys. Mai aroi. Chicken and mango and pineapple and water, thank you. It’s just like another day in San Diego, except that the water is as warm as a shower. The Pacific Ocean never gets past about 72F.
Not for the last time am I surprised at the appalling swimming skills of the Thais I am with. All that water and they barely have the ability to survive in the water let alone swim. I wonder if I’ll need to put the lifesaving skills to the test. Thankfully, the answer is no.
I can’t stop staring at Lek. She’s got huge tits for a Thai woman, big and natural, with a nice bob to them. Enormous nipples and we know what the water does to them. She didn’t have a suit to wear and went in the water wearing a tight, black tank top that left nothing to the imagination. Of course Som saw me staring and was not happy. She said nothing at the time, but I learned that this was to my detriment. Her anger builds and blows later. Occasionally fun to watch, but also deadly. All in all a fun day at the beach.
In the baht taxi on the way back to Pattaya I catch a ration of crap from a Turkish man who gets on with his fat chain-smoking wife. He can hear from my voice that I’m American and at this time GW Bush is trying desperately to get the Turks to allow the USA to use their bases as a staging area to bomb Iraq. I merely smile and ignore him. I’m with three hot Thai women and the farthest thing from my mind is my country’s fucked up foreign policy. Besides, I voted for Gore.
END PART 3
At the shop that evening after the beach Lek asks me to go to the beach the next day. It will be her birthday and she’s having a beach party. She asks me in full view of Som, who had just said that she had to work the next day. I say yes. Mistake.
Som says nothing at the time, but her silence is a warning I shall soon come to understand. And fear.
That night in the hotel room she is uncharacteristically subdued. We had just finished a very quick, quiet buffet dinner at the hotel. Being a quizzical moron I ask her if there is a problem.
“Don’t like she.”
“Lek. Don’t like.”
Sure, I should know what she’s talking about, but I don’t.
“Ask you go beach. She know I work. Ask you. Don’t ask me.”
It’s beginning to dawn on me. Jealous? Possessive? Loss of face? I settle on the latter. I’ve looked in the mirror and I’m not the type to inspire the green-eyed monster. Does she see the potential for the meal ticket on the way out the door? She’s also mad as hell and I wouldn’t put the murder of Lek past her at this point.
“She no ask me. She know I work. Ask you. You say yes.”
Som starts to cry angrily. She wants nothing to do with my apologies or me.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was a problem. I thought she was a friend of Som2’s and your friend.”
“No friend. No like.”
“I’m sorry. I won’t go.”
I seem to say I’m sorry quite a bit. It’s not just that I’m bad with women. I haven’t a clue how to deal with open-end prostitution. Is she my girlfriend? My employee?
I hold Som and she cries. Real tears? Who knows. Certainly not I. Does she really feel this depth of emotion for someone she met as a customer?
I tell her over and over that I’m sorry. I’m a stupid man. I don’t want to hurt you. You’re a good woman, good person. And I mean it. Regardless of what she does for a living, she’s a living, breathing person and deserves more respect than I’ve shown her.
The make-up sex is incredible. Two hours of rolling and sweating. After, she cries again. I just hold her and wonder what the hell world I’ve entered in the last four days. We fall asleep.
And yet…I still want Lek like nobody’s business. Lek scares the hell out of me. I think she would just as soon kill me as fuck me. But she seems to have an axe to grind with Som and she wouldn’t mind grinding it with me. If I’m not careful I might not make it home with all the equipment intact.
The next morning I wake as usual at 6:00 A.M. with the morning chubby. Som wakes as well, takes her morning pee and instead of going back to sleep like she normally does, proceeds to screw me senseless for a very pleasant hour. Again, after sex she cries, and begins telling me the saga of her life.
The obligatory abusive Thai husband, the daughters and her hopes for them. The inability, due to poverty, to finish school beyond the seventh grade. Great racking sobs when she speaks of not having the two baht bus fare for the 15 kilometre ride to school.
I’m not prepared for this. Nothing in my world compares to her story. If even half of it is true she’s had about the shittiest life I can imagine. I try to keep the armour in place but I’m starting to slip, lose my grip on my cynicism. I’m about to tumble over the cliff of fun into the dreaded L word.
“I love you but you don’t know.”
I keep silent. What can I say? I’m not about to tell the prostitute I met in a massage shop that I love her. Am I?
I manage to hold my tongue until she leaves for work again.
I start packing my bags. Fuck it, I’m going to Cambodia. I can’t see any more of this woman. I can’t be this person I’m becoming. It’s best for all concerned if I just leave. She has daughters for Christ’s sake, and wants me to meet them. What am I supposed to say?
“Hi girls, I’m your mom’s john this week. She’s a great fuck and gives a great hand job.”
My God, I’m despicable. I should leave now. My bag is full. I look at her clothes hanging in the closet. The hotel staff will let her in to pick them up, won’t they? While I’m pondering what a lowlife I am a knock sounds at the door. I open it warily.
Som stands there with that magical smile on her face and I know I’m not going to Cambodia.
She pushes me on the bed and jumps me. The weak man, the perv, the lowlife, cannot say no to this woman. An hour later she goes back to the shop.
As she walks out the door she says, “No give oil massage. Come see me 12 o’clock.”
I stroll into the shop at midnight. Her friends greet me like they’ve known me for months and not just less than a week.
“No work tomorrow in the morning.”
I pull out my wallet to pay the shop fine.
“No pay. Tell before. No work. Can go beach.”
I look at the shop manager for confirmation. She smiles and nods.
And so we’re off to the beach at Jomtien again. Another great day at the beach until I manage to fuck it up once again. A seemingly innocuous sentence.
Throughout my stay in Thailand my eyes were a red menace. The pollution, heat and humidity made the best customer Visine ever had. That day at Jomtien I took off my sunglasses as we were settling under our umbrellas.
“Keep on dah-ling. Your eyes. Bad for you.”
At this point, being the independent male that I am, I’d had my fill of her concern for my welfare. I know, I know, it’s what Thai women are famous for, but I’d had enough. Every step, every day, every bite of food, every drink of water, she wanted to “take care you.” I couldn’t leave well enough alone.
“Som, you’re my friend, not my mother.”
So wrong on so many levels.
My remark was met with the silence I had come to dread. After about five minutes she got up and went into the water without tugging on my hand like she always had in the past. I looked at Som2 who was with us as usual. She smiled that smile that women the world over have. The one that says, “You’re a fuckup.”
Friend was not a strong enough term, apparently, to describe our relationship, and mother, well…Who screws their mom outside of the Penthouse Forum?
I follow Som into the water. As per usual she’s crying. As per usual I apologize in many ways. I proclaim my ignorance. No, no, I like when you take care of me. Of course I’m happy to be with you. I think you’re wonderful. Much, much more.
“I love you, but you don’t know.”
This becomes a tagline to our time together.
Eventually, I’m back in her good graces. We splash, we frolic.
I’m standing waist deep in the Gulf of Thailand and I’m getting peed on. She laughs. “Dah-ling can you help me?” I’m holding her around her waist. She puts my hand on her pussy and laughs again. “Hot Dah-ling? Your hands clean now?” She laughs again. I laugh out loud. I’m in heaven, never been happier in my life.
Back at the hotel I shower. Som lies on the bed face down. It’s approaching 6 o’clock and she’s not near ready to work. I playfully shake her and tell her to get up and go to work.
“Work Som. Work Som. You need to work. Let’s go.”
“Why you no want me?”
Christ, I’ve done it again.
More crying. I can’t figure this woman out. Or maybe I just don’t want to. It’s all becoming very surreal. What happened to a good time with no strings attached?
“Me love you but you say “Som, Som, go Som. Why you no want me? Do everything for you. Love you. You don’t know.”
More talk from me. I tell her I don’t understand.
“No want go work. Want be with you all time. I don’t know. But you no want me.”
“Yes I do want you. I did not know how you felt.”
“Tell you, but you don’t know. No want work. Want you. All time.”
Is this for real? How many tears can one woman produce? Is she for real? If not, she should be in the movies. Even my black heart is starting to melt. I’m a pretty good guy, fun to be with, treat her with respect, but come on. Am I the best thing in her life? Or is my wallet? It’s not necessary to behave this way to get my money. I’ve been freely doling it out every day. Happy to do so. Everything comes at a cost. I know how the game is played, or at least thought I did.
More talking. More crying. Her life is hard and she is alone. Unhappy. Lonely. Sometimes scared.
“Never go with man. Work, go room. Go Bamboo with Som. Now want be with you.”
She wants to quit the shop. Tells me she hasn’t given an oil massage since she met me. Against my better judgment I believe her. I’m in. I’m falling for it? Falling for her?
“Me hate massage.”
Then I say it. The last week of my life has been a primer on how not to behave in Pattaya and now I take the last step.
“Som, I think I love you and that scares the crap out of me.”
She looks at me through her tears. Disbelieving. She’s heard it too many times from too many customers.
“I love you Som. Please don’t leave. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
I cry. What the hell is happening to me? What monstrous abyss have I leapt off of?
“Me tell shop I quit.”
“Okay. I’d like that.”
What follows is the best sex we’ve had to date. She rips off the condom and tosses it across the room.
Incredibly stupid, but at the time I don’t care. Hard as a rock. Sweaty and lengthy.
Afterward she goes to the shop and quits. When she comes back we have yet more great sex. What have I done? What have I done?
The relationship now goes into overdrive. She basically moves in. More and more
clothes and makeup. We are together almost every minute of every day. And yes, I meet the daughters. Not a question of what to say to them as they don’t speak. They smile shyly and giggle behind their fists.
I wonder what they think. Why is mom with this man? They know what she does for a living. They’ve been to the shop, seen the streets of Pattaya. Amazing Thailand. I don’t think this is what TAT was thinking when they came up with the slogan.
END PART 4
Over the course of the next two weeks it’s like we’re a normal couple on holiday. It’s easy to fall into the fantasy. We do the touristy things. Som has never seen the city that she works in. The crocodile farm. Mini Siam. Gold Buddha on a mountain. More temples than I knew existed. At first I thought it was incongruous that she was such a devout Buddhist given what she does for a living, but over time I see her only as a person, and not a prostitute. Of course she’s Buddhist. She’s from Thailand.
She takes me to see her horrible little fan cooled room. I wince when she opens the door. It’s awful. It stinks of mildew and neglect and sadness. The walls need about twenty years of paint. I pay the rent. Her daughters are staying there while she’s with me. I can’t take it for long.
Some pictures on the wall of the king and a soccer poster of Beckham from an
Englishmen she knew for four days. He was married with kids. Friends in town with him. Would not hold her hand in public. Snuck up to her room. Wouldn’t eat with her, touch her in public. His friends might see and report to the wife.
Professed to love her. I told her I think he’s full of shit. He hates his life, sees her as a way out of misery. If he fucks over one wife, he’ll fuck over another one. Mr. Concern, I am. How did I meet her? Certainly not at the local park.
The daughters only have cell phone games to pass the time. When I see them sitting on the floor next to the hotplate it’s all I can do not to cry. What a horrendous way to spend your time.
“Want TV for my babies.”
I’m a sucker. I can’t say no at this point. I’m in whole hog. I buy her a 19” TV with a remote at the local Tesco Lotus. Keep the receipt. If there’s any way to write off this trip I’m doing it. Need to recoup some of my stupidity. I also buy a large oscillating fan for the room. It’s a fucking pizza oven in there. Som cries.
“Now you have two babies same me.”
“No I don’t.”
I try to resist. More crying
“Why you no want? Say ‘No Som, no have babies’.”
At the hotel another long talk. I am happy to help, but just because I buy a TV and help with the rent does not mean I am their father. If we are together, they have to choose to accept me. I can’t just say it and make it happen. Som is appeased. We have amazing sex. When in doubt, take the pants off.
She gets cable spliced into the room. The girls are happy. Smiles all around.
We go to the Pattaya Music Festival and I buy Som a rug.
“Now you can cover that tile floor.”
She cries again.
“You remember floor! Always think of me. Want me happy.”
Hell yes. I’m in love with you. Quite possibly the stupidest man on the planet, but I genuinely love you. I don’t tell her how appalled I am by her room. It is, after all, her home, such as it is.
At the Music Festival with her daughters we’re almost a family. It’s a weird scene but I like it. The daughters seem to accept me and think what Mom does is almost normal. What the hell is wrong here? There is absolutely no value placed on this woman’s life. She is very smart, but left home at 14 to work and support the family
“Family have problem. Me stay outside. Work, work, work. All time work.”
And just what the hell is a pretty fourteen-year old girl qualified to do? Menial labour, and when she’s old enough, sell her body and soul to disgusting slobs like me.
After the Festival, back at the hotel, we cry together. I’m a sap. She tells me, not for the first time, that she is bad for me. She holds up her hand.
“You up here, me down here.”
I strongly disagree. I tell her all the good that she does. Family, friends, Buddha, the legless man in the wheelchair that she laughs and talks with. She is perhaps the kindest, warmest person I have ever met and I tell her this.
More crying. She is not comfortable with someone being nice to her. We talk for a long time while I hold her and stroke her face, back and hair. Kiss each eye, kiss her forehead. Stroke her hair. She likes it, very comforting. Likes to be held and listened to. Hell, who doesn’t?
Touch her head, touch her heart. This is why I love you Som. Not for this. Touch her pussy. You are not what you do.
“What you say?”
Touch her pussy again.
“This is not Som.”
Touch her head and heart again. This is Som.
“You are so much more than your job. I don’t care what you do or what you have done. You are a good woman. Good mother, good friend, good daughter. Always giving. I know that you do what you do to put food on the table for your daughters, clothes on their back. You send money to the family that sent you out into the street, people who couldn’t/wouldn’t pay two baht to put you on the bus to go to school. You spend your precious time off on your birthday taking a ten hour bus ride to Surin so that you can take care of your mother. The woman that didn’t take care of you, that told you that you are worthless. That is a good person. That is a great person. You are like diamonds, like gold. Rare in this world. That is the woman I love.”
“No good. No good. Bad for you.”
More reassuring on my part. We spend the better part of six hours lying in bed
and talking about her life. I cry along with her. That makes her happy, that I care that much. I feel like a royal shit. Tell her so.
“Som, I came to Thailand to be with a woman like you and have sex. I hate your job, but I walked into that shop just like every other man you’ve ever been with. If your life was good I never would have met you. If your husband didn’t box you, if he didn’t drink, you would still be with him in Bangkok. I never would have met you. Because you have had a horseshit life I got to meet you. If I was at a different hotel in a different part of town, maybe I would never meet you. If Thailand was nicer to you, never meet you. You are the good one, Som. I’m just the lucky one.”
“No you different. That why I go with you. Nice man. Listen to me. Talk to me. You know me. Care about problems. You cry. No man cry. You say to me ‘Som, don’t leave me. Need you.’ After say ‘Som, Som go to work.’ I cry, hurt me. You no want me. After we talk. You don’t know. You don’t know. I love you Derry. Love you. We talk, you tell me you don’t know. You tell me you love me. Now I understand better more. You no want me to leave. Say, I’m sorry Som, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Good man. Good heart. I love you, but you don’t know. You don’t know.”
I know now, God how I know. No sex tonight. We just fall asleep in each other’s arms. Better more.
The next morning Som goes to the market. She wants to buy me some clothes. A not so subtle hint about the way I dress. She doesn’t want me with her so it’ll be a surprise.
While she’s gone I have a crisis of conscience. I’m a shit. A lowlife. I’m part of the problem. If she truly does care for me I’ll just end up fucking up her life even more. It’s a habit with me. A woman says the magic word and I run like hell. Now a woman I barely know is saying she loves me and crying in my arms two to three times a day.
Intellectually, in spite of my words of love, I still think that it’s all part of the act. Thailand is different. You get a lot more for your sexual dollar. A lot more. At the same time, I must give her credit for having real emotions, a genuine heart and feelings behind the mask. What is going on in her mind when she’s climbing on me? When we walk the streets, go to eat, shopping, to the beach. Does she loathe me as I think she must, or is she genuine in her assertions of love?
How could she love me? I’m a degenerate. I came to Thailand for many of the same reasons as any other perv. Sure, I’ve seen a few temples, talked Buddha with Som, but that hardly makes me a culture vulture.
Now I sicken myself. I’m going to leave her and not be a part of the problem. I’ll just check out and go. Then she comes back. That knock on the door and that smile. Christ, why does she have to smile so much? She’s got clothes for me that she bought with her own hard earned money. I know what she did to make the money before she met me. Were they nice to her? Not many of them.
One look at her beautiful, smiling hopeful face and all my resolution is gone. I can’t thank her enough. What do you want to do now, I ask? She smiles a dirty smile and strokes and bites my nipples. I like that very much and she knows the priapic condition it puts me in. We make love for an hour.
END PART 5
I can’t leave this woman. We start making plans for a future. I want to stay in Thailand. America would eat her alive. Good God, I’m crazy and I’m crazy about her. We agree that we are both two stupid people and are lucky that we each know another stupid person. I start to count in my head the days I have left with her.
Neither one of us speaks it out loud, but we both feel it. All good things must come to an end. Nothing is forever, no matter how hard we try and say to the contrary. We make plans against the inevitable.
We start to talk about a house, a University fund for the girls. She wants a yard, a garden and a dog. I agree that would be best. It’s insanity and we both know it, but the talk goes on. Occasionally she’ll break the mood briefly.
“Dreams. Only dreams.”
I have to continue the fantasy.
“If you don’t dream, you are dead inside. I know that for you, it is just talk, Som. You hear men say to you always, ‘Som I love you and want to take care of you. Marry you. Come to my country.’ But here you are with me. None of them has taken care of you. They have children and wives. It will take time for you to believe me. You will see that I am different.”
“Good dreams, Dah-ling. Me sad you go. Me very happy we have time together. Never forget you. Never forget you.”
“I won’t let you. I need you.”
More sex. It gets more and more intense each time we are together. Biting, chewing, intense kisses, moans. We have developed a rhythm that works. Occasionally, however, I am reminded of the reality of her life. When she starts to ride me like a banshee, with a glazed look in her eye, I know that she is doing what she thinks she needs to do to get me off as soon as possible so that she can quit. When this inevitably happens she is off me and into the shower in about one second. Cuddle after, she loves that, as do I, but the mercenary nature of the send off is a little unsettling at times, coupled as it is with her smile and sexy head toss.
As the days go by I fall deeper into the fantasy that my life has become. We fall into something of a routine. I wake up at 6:00 with a throbber. I watch her sleep until about 6:15, at which time she wakes up, smiles at me, stretches like a cat, and grabs me by the dick and says “Hello, big boss. Good morning. Mama pee-pee.”
And off she would go. On good mornings, after hearing her use the Thai style bidet, and the resultant splashing of water, she would come to back to bed with a dirty little grin and we would play for an hour or so. Then a shower and either off to breakfast or back to sleep until 10:00. On bad mornings she would come back to bed with a dirty, little grin and grab my dick again and say, “Save power, Dah-ling, Mama tired.”
At which point she would tease me to the brink with fingers and hands and mouth then roll over and promptly begin snoring. Back up at about 9:00 and she would laugh, stretch and grab my still hard dick. “Hello, big boss. Wait for Mama?”
And we would have sex for an hour or so and then go eat breakfast and start our busy day. Sometimes after breakfast we would go back to the room and fool around on top of the bed, occasionally finishing with sex, but as often stopping at the edge and going out for whatever we were doing. It made it that much more fun to get back. Many times it was the beach at Jomtien, by ourselves or with her friends.
Fun times, making out in the water like teenagers. Tossing her around in the water, Som clinging to me while we bobbed in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding a banana boat and falling off twice, laughing our asses off like little kids. Joking, lazing. Vendors everywhere, occasionally scattering when the police showed.
Cook the squid right in your face. Fresh crab, shrimp, fruits and vegetables of every variety. Beer, water, tea. More water. Crickets in a bag, deep fried and crunchy. Thai silk, massage, condoms, T-shirts, caged birds to be released as an offering. Sunglasses, sun-screen, various other lotions and creams. All brought right to your beach umbrella.
Sometimes it’s a beautiful world. Sometimes you stop to think about how hard all these people work to make a horseshit living. All to my advantage, sitting here as the problem and solution. Thailand wants my tourist dollar, and food is a big part of the pull. So is sex tourism, and I’m enjoying all the benefits therein.
At the same time, I’m exploiting Som and contributing to the industry that I profess to loathe. Yet I’m so knocked on my ass stupid about her that I try to convince myself that we are somehow different, and that we were meant to meet each other and find a measure of happiness in our lives. She and I talk a great deal about being happy, and how neither one of us is.
We laugh, we joke, but underneath is loneliness and pain. We both want to believe the fantasy of “US” so much because the alternative is taking a painful look at the reality of our lives. We are not young, as Som constantly reminds me. We are not teenagers with a first crush. She is thirty-seven and I am thirty-eight. What does her future hold? What does our future hold? She can’t work this job forever and she doesn’t want her daughters to live her life. What will she do?
She still has the same lack of access to higher education that she gives money to her brother for. She still has only a seventh grade education. She can sell Thai food from a cart, she is a good cook. This entails working from 4:00 A.M. to approximately 11:00 P.M. At twenty-thirty baht a plate, she must sell close to eighty plates of food every day to merely gross $1,000 USD in a month.
Even with the cost of living in Thailand it is impossible to do more than subsist, given the reality of the money she sends home. By working in Pattaya she makes more money, but loses a piece of her soul. But as a Buddhist, her sacrifice is great and she is afforded good luck and a better future life. It’s a twisted web to enter, and is not for the faint hearted.
Cultures clash, ideas are difficult to impart because of language and value differences. Simple conversations take on extraordinary weight, inflection very important. Because the Thai and Lao languages are tonal Som is very sensitive to tone changes in my voice. She doesn’t know all the words, but she knows how they sound. If I am sharp or sarcastic she knows. If I am angry she knows. If I try and pretend that she is wrong, she knows.
Unfortunately, all the hard questions I didn’t ask when I was there with her. It is only now that we are apart for a period of time that I ask all these questions and try to make sense of the whole three weeks we were together. I still feel as strongly about her as ever, but lately I am filled with a great sadness, like it was all just a nice dream, and I’ll never get the chance to be with her again, or anyone like her.
Although I know that there is no one like her, not for me. She is unique and I treasure the time we had, while hoping earnestly that I can accomplish the impossible, go back to Thailand and be with her always. The entire thought process involved is insane, yet I can’t stop it and don’t want to. If my happiness depends on going back to Thailand and giving everything I have to try and make it work with Som, then I am going to do just that. Whatever it takes to be with this special woman I am going to do. Family and friends strongly advise against it. I appreciate their caring, trying to protect me, but must disagree with their assessment.
Even if Som is insincere and is right now laughing her ass off with her friends over the poor love struck dumbass, I don’t care. I’m still going back to see what we had and what we might have. Life is brief and I’ve only just realized how fleeting happiness can be. I want more of it and I know where to find it. I will make it work with Som and I will be in Thailand with her. I’ve never wanted anything in my life more than I do this. It is my sole motivation. I must get back to Som. Nothing less is acceptable.
Two nights before I leave Som and her friends throw me a going away party. The Fishing Bar somewhere in Chonburi. Mainly little palapas in the middle of a rank lagoon. However, they know my love of the cold stuff and so rent an AC private room.
The obligatory karaoke machine and enough food to feed an NFL football team. Or ten hungry Thai women. Morty the drunk Israeli is there with Som2. The ladies all pitched in on a gift, elephant coasters. Who knew my love of elephants would dovetail nicely with the Thai national animal?
At the party Som and her friends drink enough Johnny Walker to float a battleship. I merely drink my water and watch in amazement as 100 pound women drink enough to shame any frat boy. Full glasses of the hard stuff chugged in seconds. It’s a crazy night.
Naturally Som drinks so much she heaves her pretty little guts up. Being a gentlemen I hold her hair and tell her it’s okay, I still love her. Is whiskey truth serum? If she was going to rip into me at any point I figured this would be it. But she continues her mantra of “Love you. Only you. Good man. Only man.”
She wants to kiss me but I must abstain. I love you dear, but I’m not tasting your dinner.
The party ends at about dawn and I ride to the hotel in the back of a baht taxi with six drunken Thai women singing at the top of their lungs. No one bats an eye as we crawl through the streets. Hell, this is Pattaya.
I throw Som in the shower and we hit the sack. No sheet rumpling tonight. I just hope she doesn’t puke in her sleep. And yet she’s back awake at 11:00 A.M. The energy she possesses is staggering. Bottle it and no more nukes.
My last day in Bangkok is a whirlwind. We are awake in Pattaya having sex and talking and packing until 4:00 A.M. I can’t bear to go to sleep. I’ll dream about her but won’t be with her. If I sleep I lose precious time with her. We wake and go to our last breakfast at the Apex buffet. I tote my luggage and her bags down the stairs.
The same stairs where she would almost always take the first two steps and then fall back into me, at once an intimate gesture and a test of trust. I never failed to catch her, kiss her and carry her up the stairs. In the long, convoluted hallway to the room she would routinely fall into me from the left side as we walked hand in hand, expecting me again to catch her. I always did. Making a joke of picking the wrong room.
“This one?” she would whisper, moving toward the wrong door. I would sweep her up and carry her again, this time to our door.
“Too much Heineken for you. This one.”
And we would laugh the stupid laugh that lovers do, lost in our dumb, but significant little private joke.
We take a truck taxi to the bus station at about 9:30 in the morning, catch the 10:05 bus to Bangkok. We hold hands and sit next to each other on the frigid bus. I fall asleep for about thirty minutes and wake to find her head next to my shoulder, watching me sleep. I smile. She kisses me. “I love you” she whispers to my face.
We talk quietly as the bus rolls inexorably toward Bangkok. Bus arrives at Ekamai at twelve forty. We check into the Sawasdee Smile Inn in Banglamphu because I know the area, but it’s at least twenty-five miles from Don Muang International Airport. We will see her paternal aunt, in a Bangkok hospital with a throat problem. I will meet her uncle, aunt, cousins, brother.
I will wai like I was to born to it, and only later realize that they all think I’m an idiot. We meet the daughters and sister at the hospital, then have liver soup on the street in Bangkok. We catch a ferry boat across the river and my pants burst. Zipper, button, catch, everything. Have absolutely no dignity. Som and I leave by taxi back to the hotel. I change into better shorts and we return to Wat Prakeo, where I am promptly not allowed in because of short pants. Som hauls ass across the street to a market and manages to find a pair of long pants that fit me. Hideous tan bell bottoms, but they satisfy the modesty requirement. I sweat with embarrassment and heat. We go to Wat Prakeo inside the Grand Palace. Incredible place. Take off my shoes more than five times. Afterwards we go to a park across the street from the Palace, taking in a kite festival on the birthday of the queen’s daughter.
We eat. Som occasionally feeds me bites of sticky rice and chicken, not allowing me to eat the Som Thum Thai (Lao noodle salad) that I dearly love, but that plays havoc with all major internal organs in my body. I steal a few bites anyway. The girls and sister Yang laugh. Som playfully scolds me.
“Can not Dah-ling. Give pain.”
She speaks in Thai to Yang and the girls, they look impressed. I look quizzically at Som.
“Tell them, you eat Thai food. All. Can do. Can eat. Can stay with me Thailand.”
They chat and I sit and try not to offend with my posture and squirming. We sit on the ground on a mat, and no matter how much I have tried in the last twenty-one days, I can’t get used to sitting on the ground. I constantly fidget and move, thereby pointing the bottoms of my feet at everybody I am with and all those who pass by.
I’m pretty sure I’ve in some way offended everyone in the park by now. Fuck these pants. I strip out of the long pants and change back into shorts. Sweet relief. A breeze blows. Perhaps the first I’ve ever felt in Bangkok.
Brother Nid shows up. The one that she puts through college. He shows no animosity toward me. In the back of my mind I wonder if he’s really her husband. There is a strong family resemblance so I let it go. The reaction I get from everyone in the family is one of strangely quiet tolerance. I never fail to wonder why, doing what she does, with dumbass Westerners like me, she brings me to meet a large chunk of her family.
And they all are very polite, wai, and go on about their business. It is a world that stuns me and fascinates me, a pull I can’t escape. I want this. I need this. Or so I convince myself. Or do I? Questioning the sincerity of my motives. Every day I run through the lunacy in my mind, stone cold sober and drug free.
All my decisions are of my own volition. But on the surface they all seem so absurd. This can’t be more than what it seems. Who finds happiness in this situation? It’s just not real. And yet, I can’t stop. I want the fantasy to be real. I know that Som genuinely likes me. Loves? Sterner test. Appreciates? Definitely. Is happy with? Yes, to a degree.
Don’t know if she’ll ever be truly happy. She has a strong sense of impending doom that she doesn’t like to talk about. We stay at the park until after sunset. It’s a beautiful night, the kind of night Som had been trying to describe to me when she shared her love of Bangkok. It was not her birth home, being from a village in Surin, but her adopted home, where, for better or worse, Som was forged into the adult woman I was lucky enough to meet.
We walk hand in hand to the north edge of the park, waiting for the bus to arrive that will take the daughters and Yang to their room in Nangkang. It feels far too good to be healthy. It’s a beautiful, breeze filled night. Bangkok is alive with the sounds of voices chattering in Lao and Thai, taxis, tuk-tuks, busses, cars, a Buddhist stage play being enacted at the kite festival.
The smell of diesel and food stalls, orchids and exhaust, Som’s perfume as we kiss. The heady smell of love in a foreign land. It’s god damn crazy. And yet I don’t care. I buy in. Every day, I buy in. I have committed to the fantasy. It’s all that is real. I feel that somehow I can bend the laws of the universe and make this relationship a reality by the sheer force of will. It will not fail for lack of trying on my part. There is precedence for relationships of this sort. Very small precedence, but enough for me to continue full bore.
After her family departs we catch a taxi to the Sawasdee Smile. AC and a window for only 430 baht. Great price for two. A double bed, with a low ceiling and painful headboard. We shower and I foolishly forego sex to eat and buy a paperback for the plane ride back. After these mundane chores we go to bed and stroke and talk for about thirty minutes, leading to some very intense sex.
Biting, screaming, etc. We’re both sweating after and take the obligatory shower. It’s 12:30 A.M. and my flight leaves at 7:00 A.M. With check-in that means we need to be awake at about 4:00 A.M. Neither of us wants to sleep. We hold each other and talk, reminiscing about some of the high points of our time together, our stupid little jokes, Muy Thai, kiss the big boss, save power Dah-ling, Have Two No Charge.
Oh Som, Thailand is so cold tonight, when she rubs too much Tiger Balm on my back and the air conditioner reduces me to uncontrollable shivers as I cling to her, placing her on top of me while I shake and she laughs uncontrollably, making me incredibly horny, but I can’t do anything about it because I can’t stop shivering and she can’t stop laughing, her entire body shaking with the pleasure of release. She has tears in her eyes she’s laughing so hard.
The fact that she tells her friends everything and they always laugh playfully at me when they next see me. All these moments are priceless, cherished.
The entire time we talk I stroke her hair and kiss her face and forehead and eyes. She eventually grabs my still hard dick and gets that look in her eyes again.
“Big boss have power.”
“All day, every day, Som. I tell you every day. No bullshit.”
She jams me inside her and we are off again, her soft cries of “Oh, Derry” more than doing the trick.
The next morning is the cliché airport trip. I’m out of money and she has foot the bill for the last two days. The cab ride almost bankrupts her. We’re early and sit and wait in the departure lounge. She busies herself taking a splinter out of my hand. Finally it’s time.
In a very un-Thai fashion we kiss and hug and weep at the gate. And then I turn and walk through customs and it’s over. Even when I go back, it will never be the same as this. Never again new and fresh. The future is vague, the past a memory, albeit a sweet one.
Twenty-four hours later I’m back in San Diego. I feel out of place. Only a month away and everything is different because I’m different. I don’t feel as if I belong here anymore. My head and heart are in Thailand, only my body testament to geographic reality.
Seven months and hundreds of phone calls later I’m two months from seeing Som again. So close I can taste it. She calls me almost daily at 6:00 A.M. to wake me up. I call back, we talk briefly, I go to work. At 8:00 A.M. Bangkok time I call her to wake her up. She has relocated to the Big Mango and now owns three food shops that employ the bulk of her family.
“You last massage. No like. Only you.”
With those words in my heart and in my ears I prepare for a three-month visit. Will it work? Haven’t a clue. The only to find out is to try. I hope it does. In a strange way, getting to know each other on the phone and through web-cam chats has been good. Sex was so easy it made the “relationship” unreal. Moved it forward at warp speed. We are now friends in a way that wasn’t possible in March and April. It can only make things better. As with all of life, time will tell.
END PART 6
Comments to follow when I have a chance to read it in full.