Stickman Readers' Submissions June 28th, 2004

Phone Taps, Thais and Lies

She'd been speaking now for nearly 20 minutes. She was well-rehearsed. We were, "finished". Our marriage was over and she was forcefully in her un-English and foreign way ticking off all the reasons for this failure….. Except for one, that is! I knew she wasn't planning to add that particularly pertinent reason to her otherwise exhaustive list. This was going to be the first time she'd hear from me that I knew she was having an affair. I had also been in rehearsals for this moment. I focused on her eyes, but threw it casually, my voice level, calm….

"So, when were you going to mention your affair?"

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For a split second she froze,…..stunned confusion mixed with shock, she looked like, 'an owl in labour! 'For the thousandth time I blessed the phone-tap I'd fitted months before. If Phil Collins could 'feel it coming in the air tonight', I knew it was coming, chapter and verse! I knew the moment she'd choose and the words she'd use to end our short and ultimately painful marriage. I knew the intimate details of her romance. I'd eavesdropped on the same stories, the same tender endearments and the same words of love that we'd shared. The 'Owl' blinked once, she'd had no idea before that moment that I knew of her betrayal. That 'face of an angel' contorted into a snarl and she was back on the attack.

"You'd like to think that! Blame someone else!……If you can even think like that…. then… this marriage is worse than I thought…."

For months she'd been picking fights. I'd been ducking and diving, trying to avoid the contrived confrontations, but she'd always pin me into a corner. And though I never raised my voice, or lost control, she'd storm off anyway to another room or leave the house to meet him. I was thoroughly pissed off with her….but love is a most powerful emotion. It transcends jealousy, or anger, or fear……..and…I love…my son, you see…. Not the duplicitous creature still spitting venom at me.

Because of my son and the phone-tap I knew that in the end I would accept my wife's explanation, whenever she'd get round to finishing it, take my share of responsibility, apologise for ever thinking 'that' of her, and then work out the separation in as friendly a way as possible. After all we were basically in complete agreement. We'd been finished for months, I wanted to be rid of her. I just hadn't told her.

Thanks to the 'tap' I knew her bottom lines in the coming negotiations. I knew what she wanted and would accept. I knew what she would threaten and what she would bluff and I knew with this advantage I could achieve more for myself than any solicitor could get for me. It would take a little skill and a deal of shit to be swallowed, but when your son is at stake and the courts are no use, you eat shit 'mai pen rai!'

I'd made sure over the difficult months that my son was never exposed to any of the tensions inside of me, or the ones surrounding the disintegration of his 'family.' The phone tap allowed me to do this. Knowing for certain where she was going and what she was up to was better than gnashing uncertainty. Despite dangerous side-effects the 'tap' kept me sane and gave me a comforting measure of control. More about this in a moment, but I want to offer my point.

You may have thought, quite naturally considering that this is 'Stickman' and that every other post in 'Stickman' lately is about Thai insincerity, that the lady in question is Thai. In fact she's a chemically enhanced blond Aussie. Obvious point being, not only Thai ladies will lie to you, it's quite normal for any race or culture to lie. I've come to consider thanks to the 'tap', the strong possibility that almost everyone lies convincingly when needs must.

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Take the concept of 'face', so important to Thais, and the lies that often result from a need to save 'face' out of the equation, and Thais are much the same as anyone anywhere. They lie! So do I….So do you!

Through the 'tap' I heard my Aussie wife lie to her best friends, her mother and sisters and her new love. They in turn, being partly 'in the know' lied to me and each other! My wife was careful to promise each individual that they were her main confidant. She was expertly pulling all their strings. And I was listening in and shaking my head. They in turn were playing me along. Experts too. Their lies were seamless and without the 'tap' un-spottable.

This had a powerful effect. Hearing what others truly think and say about you behind your back is a salutary and dangerously damaging experience. Despite the fact that my wife allowed in one of the taped conversations that I was 'mentally resilient' I was losing 'something'…becoming hard….cynical. I believed that in the end all marriages are based on fear and compromise….so why bother?

I was finished with trust and romance. I convinced myself that free from the thrall of women, I'd still have sport and chess and wine and music…..and my son. But I knew that in this rejection of romantic love "The most noble form of madness" (John Dunn) I would lose a part of my humanity.

I was to be lucky……… I was to be saved by the honesty and love of a Thai woman.

That story continues………….

Stickman’s thoughts:

Oh come on, now this is really cruel. You really hooked me in. Send the rest!

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