Stickman Readers' Submissions May 20th, 2004

The Ubiquitous Ugly Orange Cement Table and Bench Set

(written in September 2002)

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Yep. I bought, not one, but TWO of these ugly muddafuggas! These ones made even a tad uglier than normal by a lovely pink and white painted checker / chess board painted right smack dab in the center.

Pic is an original from Cent and his property.

It all happened one day a few weeks ago. We had decided, that is the wife and daughter had decided, that now that we had wheels to haul our asses to and fro about the Isaan countryside, it would no longer be necessary to retain the Surin rental house. (This was my first foray into living in a rental house in Surin, rather than the village house.) The purpose of the rental house was to give our daughter a place to stay during the school week, so she wouldn't have to endure the long daily rides to and from the Muang Surin school in Surin from the village via the school mini-van mental case driver. Now we had wheels of our own, and decidedly better and more caring drivers to do this daily chore, me and Sis.

Myself being the primary, vastly better, experienced (35 years worth) driver, Sis the vastly less experienced back-up driver when Papa is away, but still a safer, more caring of the look sow's well being then said mini-van driver, driver.

This being thus so we no longer needed the Surin rental house, and our daughter does so miss the family and village and friends, the decision was brought to me for my Solomon-like judgement two and a half weeks before I was supposed to leave Thailand on the 5th of September. I did want to chop someone in two once this was put before me, anyone actually would have sufficed at that time.

"EH! What's this shit?!" I grumped. "Why the hell didn't anyone tell me this two freakin' weeks ago before I did all the work to the house and yard here in Surin!!" The family could see I was a bit miffed. I had spent the past two weeks busting my nuts and frying in the sun trying to get the yard back into some semblance of order and cleanliness, had put up a wire fence to keep the two friggin' dogs (Star, the bitch, and Diamond the idiot stud—both of whom I have not bonded with yet. To me they are still soi mutts really. Ones I'm paying to feed. And Diamond bites the hand that feeds him…..the idiot. Both may one day be the featured item on a Khmer wedding menu!) from escaping and following us every time we left in the truck to Surin. Plus the work I did in the street in front of the house chopping down the weeds that had grown waist high during my six months absence in the cracks in the pavement where the cement fence and the street joined. No small and easy task this.

It was explained to me that look sow (daughter) had just come upon this brainstorm the previous day and had run it by the wife and her sister, who thought this a good plan, and it was now being brought to me, the head of the household, for my approval. "Up to me" I was told. I was also told, as an extra added incentive for my approval, that Wife and Sis wanted to re-open the noodle shop in the village, and get back to work to start bringing in some extra baht to defray my expenditures on the daily costs of running TWO households. Now we would have just the one house again, thereby halving our expenses, and no more monthly rent payments on the Surin house, plus we'd be making some baht again. (Although rent was cheap. 2,000 baht a month, for a whole house and yard in a decent neighborhood.) I liked this idea, as I had been bitching that money was getting tight and we needed to start bringing in some baht again, instead of always just laying it out. I gave my approval, with some rules and such laid down first for them to agree to.

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I AM NOT getting up every morning at 5 a.m. to bring look sow (daughter) to school in Surin! Period! That job will fall to Sis. She needs the driving practice anyway. Occasionally, when I wanted to go to Surin of a morning, I'd do the job myself, but I will not do it on a daily basis. I have my job…..writing, and drinking beer and eating good Thai foods. Plus I hate getting up that early on a consistent basis. No way, Jose. I am not, after an initial small investment, putting any of my money into the shop and its running expenses. It either prospered or failed with the income it generated. I will not prop up a failing enterprise with my income. Up to them to make it work, as I'm sure they will. The last shop did well before we closed it to move to Surin for the better schooling for our daughter.

These stipulations being agreed on we started to plan our move back to the village.

I just wished that someone had thought of this brilliant idea two weeks earlier, before I did all that work around the rental house with my still aching back godammit!

So there I was a week or so, and many truckloads of furniture and such, later, back in the village house. I was cleaning the monster shop refrigerator, hauled all the way from the P.P. House restaurant shop in Pattaya all those years ago when we first moved to the village. It needed much work, but still ran fine. I was doing this cleaning, dressed like a sexy man in just thin shorts and a pair of sandals. My leather "Teva" sandals, which have served me well these past few years, and still look marvelous, or so I was told by some guy at the flea market one night in Sang Kha who stopped me and commented on their exquisite beauty.) "What the hell's he going on about darling?" I queried the wife when accosted in Lao by this fellow. "He likes your shoes. He thinks they are beautiful." she said. "Oh…..uh….well, thanks buddy….I think." I replied to him, wondering if I'd be followed and rolled for my Tevas on the dark road walking back to the pick-up truck later. I never had anyone tell me my shoes were beautiful before. Amazing Thailand.

As I cleaned the reefer in the open shop front attached to the side of my house a pick-up truck pulled in front of the house. In the back of this were a bunch of the ubiquitous orange ugly ass concrete tables one sees everywhere in Thailand, especially Pattaya. A guy hops out of the truck and comes over and starts yakking to me. I smile and tell him I don't know what the hell he's saying, "Poot Thai my die khrup." He finds this amusing, starts yakking some more, and starts grabbing my arms, and feeling my biceps and shoulders, going on as to how big I am. I'm not, but compared to him I'm Hulk Hogan.

I yell inside to Sis to come out here and get this lunatic away from me and to stop him feeling me up, and to find out exactly what he wants. A woman exits the passenger side of the truck and walks over to see the "Great White Ape" at a closer vantage point, now that she can see he won't bite or attack. Once again I am the center of attraction in the freak show.

Sis comes out and starts yakking to the guy. Seems he is selling these ubiquitous ugly orange cement tables and benches. He saw the new shop, and stopped, hoping to sell one to us. (We had no tables of this nature before this, and I guess he saw us as lacking in proper Thai restaurant equipment and came to our rescue.) I was not really interested, but asked Sis to find out how much he was selling these beauties for. I've always wondered how much they go for. 1,200 baht he tells her. I laugh. I ask Sis if she would like one for the shop. She says yeah, but not for 1,200 baht. I tell her to tell him I'll buy one for 600 baht. What the hell. He steps back as though shocked, and laughs at my opening offer. He counters with 1,000 baht, and then explains he will be taking a loss at that. Yeah, right. I counter with 650 baht. He starts chattering to Sis about this bargaining white ape. I tell her to tell him I'm not farang, I'm Lao, and bargain as such. He starts laughing at that as though it was the greatest joke he's ever heard, and he starts feeling me up again.

He says 900 baht. I counter with 700, and not a satang more bub! 700 baht or "go away, yer bothering me son. I really don't want an orange one anyway. I want a blue one, to match the shop walls I've just painted." He frowns. I start to continue cleaning the reefer and ignore them. A pow wow ensues between him and the lady from the truck, who it turns out is his wife. They chatter away a bit, surely seeing the sale slipping away. I continue cleaning the fridge. The guy tells Sis that he'll sell me two tables for 700 baht each, and a bottle of Beer Chang.

Once she tells me this I laugh. I ask her what she thinks, we could use them in the shop. Is it a good price? She says, "Yes…..good deal". "Okay." I say. "Tell him we'll take two, and get him a beer Chang from the fridge in the house and a couple of glasses. Let's close the deal."

That's how I came to own two ugly tables and eight ugly benches. Just another day in the village. I wish he had had blue ones though. At least he didn't grab my ass. I saw him the next day driving around the village looking for another silly farang to sell these ugly tables to.

(The Central Scrutinizer)

Stickman's thoughts:

You cheapskate Cent, you should have offered him a Heineken! 700 baht?! Wow, I never knew they went that cheap.

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