Thai Thoughts And Anecdotes Part 37
Thai Thoughts And Anecdotes 37
IT'S THEIR LOSS
Pim and I are headed in a taxi for the River City Shopping Center on the Chao Phraya river between the Oriental and the Shangra-La hotel. We are going to Siam Leather Goods on the first floor facing the river to pick up some custom made crocodile shoes and matching crocodile belt that I have ordered and also to pick up a stingray vest and stingray wallet that I have ordered. This is a big day for me. I am excited and happy. I am giving myself gifts. I am on vacation and having a vacation experience. Pim has never been to a store like this and never seen this quality of goods and never seen the River City Shopping center; so this should be fun for both of us. When we arrive the salesman brings out the items for my inspection. They are beautiful, breathtaking. The shoes in particular look like a work of art. It should be a happy moment and fun time for everyone. But it isn't. Pim is sulking. She refuses to participate in a store walk-around, she refuses to let me show her store items on display, and she refuses to share in my happiness. She is undemonstrative, unhappy, uninvolved. She plants herself in a big chair and waits for it to be over. I look down at her like a father looking at a sulking child and decide not to let her ruin my fun. Another bargirl mood. More strange discourteous behavior in the Land of Smiles. Been there, seen that; what else can you show me. Adult behavior on her part would have been to happily share in the experience with smiling bright eyes and supportive congratulatory behavior.
The next day we go over to Soi 11 to Ambassador-Smart Fashion to pick up some silk shirts that I have ordered. They are really beautiful. They'd make a snake smile. Nothing from Pim. She wants to know how much they cost. The day before at the River City Shopping Mall she wanted to know how much the shoes cost.
On the way back to the Parkway hotel on Sukhumvit I buy 5 nice pens off the street, a paper umbrella for a friend back home at the office, some cheap watches and jewelry, and a big beaded wall hanging. The wall hanging was particularly nice and I have had it hanging in my office in Boston for years. Not a single smile or supportive gesture from Pim.
A couple of days later, we are at Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai and I buy a set of 3 gongs with 3 cloth covered little hammers. The gongs and hammers are neat and make a nice sound and the buying experience with the Thai vendor woman was fun. Not a smile from Pim, even when the Thai vendor tries to engage her in the process, but she wants to know the price. I should add here that I have been buying things for Pim right along in the 2 years that we have been spending time together. I am easy with my money and I like gift giving. In fact, on the day that I bought the gongs; almost everything Pim was wearing from her sandals to her hat and including her underwear was either an unsolicited gift from me or something she asked me to buy for her. And of course I have been paying all other travel, hotel, and food expenses plus 1500 baht per day. I believe that after the basics of food and water and shelter and health have been taken care of; that all of the rest of the money is to just make people smile. I am a spender, not a saver. I am 54 years old and have been working all of my life and have no savings. I live for today. I believe each day is an unearned gift with no guarantee attached. You better have a good time. So I am free with my money. If Pim asked me to buy the moon for her I would try. But that is not what she wants. What she wants to do is sulk and pout and show her displeasure for some mysterious reason. This is not a story about a Cheap Charlie and his girlfriend.
At the end of our vacation we go to the AA Hotel in Pattaya. The first day I have Anna the tour director sign us up for an all day beach and boating trip to Ko Lan, and a trip to Nanooch Gardens, and a trip to the Million Year Stone Park. Pim asks Anna how much it is all costing. No smile–no thanks. But it is OK–I have long since given up any hope of getting a little human feedback and courtesy from my honey in my moments of happiness.
On my last day in Thailand I am using my Nana hotel free drink coupon at the bar and thinking about Pim's behavior. I am telling an old Thai hand my story and asking him his opinion. Like the father to the son he puts his long white arm around my neck and his great plate sized liver-spotted hand on my small shoulder and explains it to me. Here is what I learned: The reason Pim was being sulky and moody and unresponsive and unhappy when I was purchasing goods and services for me and for the both of us is because the money was being wasted. Whose money? Why her money, of course! You see, for example; when I paid several thousand baht for some shoes money was being wasted. The money that I spent on my shoes should have just been given to her. And when I purchased a cheap tourist umbrella to take back to the States and make a work associate smile; once again the money was being wasted. The money that I spent on the umbrella should have just been given to her. All the money that I spent on the beach trips and the tours for the both of us was wasted. The money should have just been given to her. The reason she asked how much things cost was that she was interested to know how much money she was being cheated out of by the stupid farang. Confused? Of course you are; because you are from the planet Earth. Try to remember we are not on the planet Earth anymore; we are in Thailand. . . ! And the beauty of her logic is that this is all my fault. Another stupid farang spending money on himself or in the service of friendship and caring via gifts. God, how stupid can these farang be! Wait until I get back to my village and I tell my mother and my sisters and the 67 non working members of my extended family about the stupid farangs. Everybody from the president of Thailand to the ministers of the government to the village elders to the schoolchildren know that the farangs are supposed to give us their money. I can't believe that I had to waste my time tagging along with this jerk while he actually gave his money to other people. She didn't want me to buy her the moon. She wanted the cash. And she didn't want some of the cash, or a representative amount of the cash based on her prostitute companion value; she wanted all the money and she wanted it now! Apparently, all of my money became her money as soon as I passed through customs and became a farang; I am just too ignorant to know this. The fact that my (her) money is converted to useless gifts, and goods and services; just fries her little brown ass!
Now dear reader; if this was any other country I might be accused of ranting. But this isn't any other country, this is Thailand. I am not ranting. I am describing behavior and expectations of such shamelessness and ignorance and immaturity that it actually stops you in your tracks when you first come in contact with it. I had spent 2 years involved with this woman. I was thinking long term thoughts. Not any more. Thanks for the warning honey. See you never again. Oh, and by the way; do you know what I am doing right now? I am taking out my wallet, and I am taking my money out of my wallet and I am buying something. Twist in the Wind.
So when I had Pim's behavior and expectations and belief systems explained to me in the Nana bar by the 60 year old ex-pat it made perfect sense to me. It didn't make good sense or happy sense but it made some kind of sense. Sort of like having a psychiatrist explain why the insane patients are poking pens in their eyes. It is not a happy story but at least all of the information is on the table. Jesus, what a sad country and what sad people. And before one well-meaning person emails me with a little patronizing lecture on 'culture' and 'being a good quest in their country', I'd advise you to first educate yourself a little more about the meaning of the word culture. Because if this is what is being touted and flaunted and presented to the world and sold as culture then the meaning of the word has been so demeaned as to have lost all value. It's 'start over' time for Thailand.
So the next time you are thinking of making either yourself or another human being in Thailand smile through a selfless act of gift giving–think again. Learn from my experience. The fact that I was a human being involved in personal or social acts of happiness was completely irrelevant. Because I was not a human being. I was a farang ATM machine with a penis attached. How does that sound for culture? But I learned from the experience. I don't ask Thai females to share in my life or in my little happiness anymore. I less and less expend the energy to elevate the experience from a customer-hooker experience to something that could be a lot more fun and a lot more adult and a lot more rewarding. Now I just have sex and pay the bill. It's their loss.
LINES IN THE SAND
After the war; my naval carrier-pilot father, had to swallow his pride and get a job in a service station. There was a young wife and a young son. Dad learned to change tires. Hundreds and hundreds of them. When I was three my mom let me go to work and help my dad. I would squat in the dirt next to him while he fought with the X-wrench and dropped the lug nuts into my little hands. I was a mostly silent helper but a good watcher. I learned to change tires too.
One day Dad and I were belting down an Indiana secondary road when we saw a broken down car up ahead. Dad stopped. A women had a flat tire. Dad started to change the tire and the woman started to make comments. Comments about his technique. Comments about his posture. Comments about his use of tools. Criticism fell on us like lead rain. Dad said nothing–just wrestled with the X-wrench and dropped lug nuts into my little hands. Then the woman made a comment that was not about tire changing. It was personal. Very quietly Dad turned to me and told me to put the lug nuts down. He gathered me up in his arms and took me to our car. We drove off.
Years later, now my Dad's age when I was three, Nok and I were running down the Freedom highway between the Friendship Bridge and Udon Thani. Nok and I had been together 8 months. The word marriage was floating around in my head. The night before I had not been able to get an erection. I was tired. Nok had been able to lay on her back like a turtle which completed her athletic responsibilities but I had not been able to get an erection. Now I am hearing about it. It would not seem to be a conversation that admitted of much variety or complexity, but she is going on and on. There is a sun-peaking-over-the-horizon glimmer of glee and venom in the retelling. I am quiet. I remember my dad gathering me up in his arms and taking me to our car in Indiana. My father declaring through action that men matter, dignity counts, and that there are social lines in the sand that you do not step over. Up ahead I see a roadside variety store. I stop. I give Nok 100 baht and ask her to get us some cokes and chips. As the door closes behind her, I drive off.
Men are a species experiment that will end. We will be replaced with chemistry. Barbed wire cunts and ice cold sisterhood will run the world. Children will be raised by robots. But in the meantime I exist. I have value. I am a man.
Great opening piece. Sulking females need to be dealt with in such a way that they no that their behaviour is unacceptable BUT that it is not botherign you at all. With some women one can get this message across but with others it is difficult. That Pim sounds like a right stroppy little cow.