Thai Reality Part 2
On May 5 2003 my submission was listed in which I asked for some advice concerning the situation I found myself in with a 30 year old Thai lady, In general, I was advised me to run like hell. I am grateful for the concern, and of course, being a man, I ignored it. On the other hand, Stick's advice was more empathic, so I went with his and returned to see her in June.
In my absence, Gail had found a job in a tailor shop as an assistant to the tailors where she was paid about 5000 baht per month working 6 days a week, 10 hours a day She was happy to be working. She wanted some time off so we might be with each other and this resulted in an argument with her boss causing her to lose her job. The result was we were free to travel and once again we ended up spending a great time together on Koh Samui. Upon our return, we visited her family and we again took the kids to another amusement park and had an enjoyable time. While in Bangkok, we stayed in the apartment she shared with her sister in order to cut the cost of the hotels. This was her idea. As in the past, she made no requests for money but I did leave her with a couple of hundred dollars when I departed. How could one not?
Love, romance and money, how do you keep it straight?
When I first returned I noticed that one of her few worldly possessions, the gold chain she had around her neck, was gone. It was in "the shop" so we went to retrieve it and it cost me about 25 dollars. To my surprise, She then asked me why I had done this for her. And in a very poor choice of words said I was so grateful to her." For what"? she demanded. I was taken back by the subtlety of the question. The mere intimation that there was an exchange of gifts for sex caused her to do the Thai sulk for some time. I mention this only to convince myself that her heart is indeed in the right place. So once again we had a great time and again I made no promises except to return as soon as I was able. I told her only that I care for her deeply, and want her to be happy. I also made it clear that she is young and pretty and she can't wait for this old geezer to make a life for her.
After I left, Gail got her job back at the Tailor shop working the same conditions as before. Communication from her dwindled, and I received only 2 emails between June and August. Then I got one requesting $200.00 for some very vague reasons. This belied all my previous experiences with her but I did send her the money and received no real response. A month later I received a similar request for another $ 200.00. This time I did not send money but instead sent a letter explaining why. I also explained that I understood she would be disappointed and probably would not want to see me again. She responded with an email indicating that her feelings for me were not predicated on money and she was fine. Because these requests were so out of character I assumed she was being manipulated by either her sister, who is a bit predatory in nature, or perhaps a scheming boyfriend. As it turned out, I believe I was to be proved wrong.
I returned to Bangkok in January 04 not knowing what to expect and fully ready to explore Thailand on my own for three weeks if need be. She came within an hour after I called her and we spent the next three weeks enjoying ourselves. The problem was, she had to work those ungodly hours so we had less time together. I was not about to have her jeopardize her job again.
Within a few days we made the visit to Minnburri to visit the family where I was warmly received by all. I was shocked to see that half the once very humble family house had been transformed into a beauty shop. The redo included new windows, large mirrors and nicely tiled floors. It had really improved the place and I was very happy for them.
At that point I understood Gail's request for the $20000 last summer. She wanted to help her Mom with the costs of this renovation. Mom keeps the kids while Gail hustles for money in town and I know she felt obligated to help the family.
During the course of this three week visit, on many occasions we were accompanied by one of Gail's friends. She was a delightful young lady, in her thirties, and like Gail was lucky to have a respectable job but in a jewelry shop. In both cases they wear suits on the job and appear professional. I think they both feel more comfortable in jeans.
The three of us spent a couple of delightful days in Pattaya. This was strictly legit- no "sandwiching.” Her friend added enjoyment to the trip and stayed only one night so as not to "get in the way" as she said. She refused my offer to pay her fare back to Bangkok.
In the course of my three visits with Gail over the past 18 months I was exposed to a number of her friends and her family. All of whom probably represent the majority of Thai folks with respect to their economic circumstances. They are not well educated and have few financial resources. When they can find a job they appear hard working and conscientious. I heard no griping or complaining and in general they seemed resigned to their lot in life. They did not seem envious of anyone. They seemed happy.
So why am I boring you with this account my relationship with this young lady?
The responses I received from my first article leaped to conclusion that this gal had nothing but monetary gain in mind when she involved herself with me and that they are all predatory and grasping. I have not found this to be the case. Because this segment of the population of the LOS seemed overlooked in most of the submissions I simply wanted to point out they are NOT all the same. Given the vast differences in our circumstances I could understand it if she did expect more of me. At this point I think we both have added another dimension to lives that did not otherwise have the brightest of futures, and we have given to each other a little joy and happiness we would not have had if we had not met.
Working the hours she now does, sometimes not getting off until 8 or 9, leaves very little time to visit her mom and kids in Minburi as she works in the Thonburi area. It is a long trip involving motorbike, canal boat and bus-about 2 hours. As a result she stays with her friend or her sister during the week and takes the trip to mom's on Sundays She laughingly suggested she could make the trip on a motor bike in half the time. After thinking about it, I proposed that instead of getting her gold piece back which would undoubtedly be back in the shop soon after I left, and giving her any money when I left we should consider giving her enough money to put down on a motorbike. I would assist her on a monthly basis to pay it off. The deal was struck and two days later we had a motorbike. Her worldly possessions now consists of a motorbike and a mobile phone.
Two days later, I was on an hour long ordeal on the back of the motorbike breathing in the fumes of the road and measuring my life in millimeters as she squeezed by the mirrors of hundreds of cars on our way to Minburi. This little gal, barely five feet tall and weighing less than 100 lbs. had an uncanny ability, and titanium nerves to navigate this chaos. She is one tough little gal. This trip was made as I was leaving the following day and Mom let it be known. She would be disappointed if I didn't stop by to say goodbye. I was welcomed with a nice meal and Mom gave a poster of the Buddha as parting gift.
So, to answer my own question posed in my first submission, can two people of our age and cultural differences simply enjoy each others company. I would say, so far so good.
Upon leaving I again told Gail that I can make no promises about the future except that I cared for her deeply that and she brought me much joy and that I would return before the year was out. I made it clear, she cannot put her life on hold for me.
We have provided each other with something none of us ever have enough of, warmth support and an affirmation that the we are worthy of it all.
While in Pattaya, many times I witnessed the scene that brings sneers to so many younger folks and older ones alike-The geezer with the much younger Thai gal in tow. Being a bit hypocritical about it, I must admit to some of the same revulsion as I saw some rather grotesque couplings. My friend and I do not present quite the same image as I am slim, not tall and appear a bit younger then my age. We have encountered that glare of disgust from many of the farang females. Mai pen rai. To those younger guys who chuckle to themselves, let me only suggest that many of you will someday find yourselves in the same predicament many guys my age are in. Your wonderful kids raised and on their own, all those "friends" you had while you were in your 30s and 40s turn out to be mere fictions based on the proximity of professional and neighborhood relationships and all fading away with the passage of time. You are either divorced or a widower and seeking companionship. You are presented with the contemporary Western version of senior bliss – a night of bingo with a gaggle of over stuffed women who want to sit, eatm bitch about their plight in life or some old guys who stopped living years ago. So you elect to be alone, bank your emotions and forget you ever had passions for a woman.
So don't chuckle, be happy for me. Should you someday find yourself in my shoes be hopeful that you find the joy I have experienced the past 18 months.
On this subject I would refer you to the novel by Graham Green, The Quiet American, in which the old protagonist, Fowler, in an exchange with a much younger associate explains his existential predicament to an uncomprehending younger guy when he tells him, "Wait until you're afraid of living ten years alone with no companion and a nursing home at the end of it. Then you'll start running in any direction…. to find someone, anyone, who will last until you are through.
Be happy for us old guys, your turn may come.
It is always nice to hear positive stories. Some of the best submissions are those that follow up on previous pieces, and let us know how things are developing.