Stickman Readers' Submissions August 10th, 2004

A Story Without A Punch Line

Today, I had to go the city hall in downtown Chicago to do some business. About lunch time, my business was finished, so I sat right in front of the Daley Plaza for a quick sandwich and to watch people enjoying the summer as much as they can to forget
the cruel windy Chicago winter before going back to work. There have been several times on this site that discussions and observations about western women came up and all of them sounded very negative. I don't want to be too stupid to totally
disagree, but I still do want to defend them at some level. Being a 5 feet 6 inches and 135 lbs guy, I would assume that any woman who is about the same height as mine, but weighs more than let's say 145 lbs is considered fat. Friends of
mine at home already say that I'm a fat guy for the Thai standard, and I don't listen most of the time. It's all relative after all. I'm a little Thai guy around here in the U.S. Even my previous American girlfriend called
me “the little Miata.” This Mazda was replaced by the cool RX-8 last year, I guess. After people watching for an hour, I saw about 50 women who were my height and at least 40 of them weighed more than 145 lbs. I didn't even
have to tell how many weighed more than 200 lbs. The number was outrageous.

These chubby Western women perhaps are tired of fighting their weight, so they take the different approach by turning against us, guys. At the end, they can always say “yeah, I'm fat, but have I ever come to your house and begged
for food to eat? It's none of your god damn business.” This is what I say to my Thai friends once I get too annoyed of their complaints about being fat. The way I say in Thai doesn't sound so nice, and I'd better stop saying
it, otherwise they will think that I become too Americanized, which I'm not. I'm more Thai here in the U.S. than I was in Thailand. It's the identity that I fondly embrace and will not lose as long as I live. There is no other identity
I wish for. I'm happy to be Thai everyday in my life. It may be true that you cling to things that you have a feeling for them slipping away from you.

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My American x-girlfriend was chubby. I'm talking about 40 plus lbs more than me. There was no way that I could lift her in my arm. She was a good 6 inches taller than me, too. A big American girl and a little Thai guy were obvious descriptions
for us. The whole three months that we were together down in Houston, Texas was great. The breakup came primarily because of the long distance between us, she was living in Cincinnati and I was moving to New Jersey after our Houston time. I kind
of wanted the two of us believe the reason to be that way, but it was untrue. I was scared of falling in love with someone who didn't share my culture. I grew up believing that one day I would marry a Thai lady and live happily in my land.
Any deviation from this childhood dream just scares me so badly. It was bad that she knew this, too. She must have blamed and hated me for being a chicken shit, but if the relationship continued, the hard work in the future was waiting for sure
and I was too selfish to give up my childhood dream. I made it very clear before I left home for the U.S. to study that I will go back. There is no other alternative. For her to spend her life with me in Thailand, she will have to endure a lot
of things and it will be very hard, no kidding. She is now a grad student in England, but does most of her research work in Germany. I'm happy to learn that she is doing very well. My fond memories when we were together will always be with
me. It was an unfair game that I played because I cheated terribly. What I want to defend is her mind, humor, and personality, which surprised me a lot. Thai women are simply too shy to express their feelings, at least for those whom I've
come across with the relationships. There is also a thing about coed sports, too. Thai women rarely play sports together with men. It's true that guys are physically stronger than girls, but to do sport activities together doesn't need
just strength, but team work and coordination as well. In my relationships with Thai women, it was only a few occasions for them to join me playing sports (don't think too deep for this one). Things start to change nowadays and I think the
change is good for Thai women. They just have to be careful which one to pick for the change. Playing coed sports, it is a good change indeed.

I got back to work and did some debugging for hours, then a friend popped up and said that we should have coffee together. There is a small room full with books in our floor that we recently converted to a coffee lounge to hang out. I joined them for half an hour or so. During the last ten minutes, another guy showed up and told us that he just submitted his ph D dissertation, so he was completely done. We all shook hand and made him a nice cup of coffee. This guy has quite a character. He has an English citizenship by birth, but also Israeli by residency, I guess. He was in their army force for some years just like other Israeli citizens, so it was not clear to me what is his real citizenship. Anyway, this guy is a funny guy. All stories that come out from him are first-class with plenty of punch lines. We all enjoy these kind of stories, I believe. We let him enjoy his coffee because we figured it out that his guy had probably worked non-stop for the last 30 hours before he handed in his final report. Then simple conversations started to kick in. There were various kinds, mostly scientific stuff. Suddenly, one guy turned to me and asked, “I really wonder where you are from. To be honest, I just can't tell.” It was not a surprised question for me because I got it all the time. I'm a guy with a Hispanic look, but my accent was strange. It confuses people sometimes. So, I answered, “Thailand, man. I'm from Thailand.”

After hearing my answer, they started sharing their LOS stories with me as many of them either had been to Thailand or had heard about good and bad things about it. Unexpectedly, the new Israeli doctor looked me in the eyes, and said, “Hey, I've told you before that I was in Thailand in the early 90s, but I still have another story during my trip to throw in.” “Bring it out,” another guy demanded with the hope for another punch-line story just like those that he gave before. He went on, “I was backpacking in the Western part of Thailand close to, that country.. oh Burma. It was really a middle of nowhere. I was alone by the road for about an hour trying to get a ride, then a pick-up truck showed up and I hopped in. There were already three hill tribe girls dressed in their cultural costume in the back of the truck. There was no other way for us to communicate to one another except smiles and body languages. They were so lively and cute that I wanted to take pictures of them. I succeeded to have them post for me after five minutes of constant gesturing. That was very nice.”

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Silence emerged for a number of seconds and finally one guys said, “That's it? I was waiting for a punch line.” He smiled shyly and told us, “I'm a doctor now, so I can't tell jokes all the time.” We thought that he was very tired.

This no punch-line story actually gave me a lot of satisfaction. Such a story is very honest, naked, and pure. I prefer this over jokes sometimes. It's refreshing. At the end, they all told me to explore more of Thailand as I complained that I left the country too early, so that I didn't have much chance to do a solo traveling. Well, each of my visit home, I spent most of my time with my family and friends because I missed them so much. I hope that the scenery and cultural charm of Thai people will still be there, three or four years from now when I finally move back to my land. A biking trip through out the country sounds very nice to me now. There is no slope in the flat Chicago to have a fun ride after all.

Stickman's thoughts:

You’re not the only one who misses his homeland…

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