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The Village Life Tales – Michelangelo In Isaan

  • Written by Cent
  • May 4th, 2005
  • 5 min read


Part 3

I had promised my lady we would paint the nearly finished house when I showed up this trip. I wouldn't let her hire any Thais to do it, as I wanted a good job done of it, and have seen so many shitty paint jobs in Thailand, inside of buildings and outside, that I told her I'd rather do it myself. I've worked for many years house painting and doing interior work, like wall papering and such to supplement my income when needed. Actually I’ve been doing this since I was around seven years old and helping my father, who always was painting something, and was a bit of a perfectionist about it. It must have rubbed off on me it seems.

This was a "first" for the village I was told. No falang had ever been seen doing manual labor in the village, and it caused quite a stir I guess. It seemed every time I would look up there would be a Thai guy or two standing in the doorway watching me paint, with a stupid grin on their face. I'd say hello, and continue painting and sweating my balls off. It was pretty damned hot in that house at the time. If I got sick of being stared at I'd do the old Tom Sawyer bit and act like painting and sweating was the most fun thing a person could do. "I love to paint! It's fun!" when asked why I didn't just hire someone to do it. It is pretty cheap, only 100 baht, about $2.50, a day to hire a guy, but, like I said, they paint like they're getting paid a 100 baht a day too. I'd offer to let them paint a while, so they could see how much fun it was. The stupid grin would vanish from their faces, and they'd quickly leave, pleading important business elsewhere. Scram! What is this a Barnum and Bailey's side show freak tent?

The ladies were much more helpful. After my lady explained the reason for my doing the painting myself to the other ladies they all laughed, and agreed that most Thai men were lousy sloppy painters. One cousin, Sow, had been a professional house painter for many years in Bangkok. This lady was good, and soon had all the other family ladies prepping the walls, doing the paint mixing, and sanding the woodwork and such. She was a great help. She was an excellent house-painter as well!

My lady was very impressed with the new paint job, and said I was the hit of the ladies in the village. The whole time I was painting one lass or another would bring me a glass of cold beer or water. They'd refill my paint bucket, and would sometimes even wave a towel at me for a while to cool me down. I was sweating bullets it seemed. As quick as I drank some water it just would pour back out through my skin. The women even moved the furniture around and placed those hand-woven straw mats on the floor to stop any paint from getting on the new floor tiles, and all the while they never stopped chattering away. Most times I think listening to Thai women talking together is almost like listening to soothing, soft free-form jazz. You don't understand it sometimes, but it sure sounds nice, just like jazz. We finished the whole house in just two days, and it looked splendid.

That night we had a big party for the family, and all the ladies got squashed. Mama and her older sister too! They're like 67 and 70 years old, and look like a couple of wrinkled old monkeys, I swear. Quite the sight this was to see. We had tons of good food, and plenty of beer Chang, and a few bottles of white zinfandel wine I had left over I had bought for an earlier occasion.

Most of the family and villagers had never tasted this type of wine before, and were anxious for a taste of the farang wines. They drink a home-made rice based wine and many had never had a grape wine. We also had one bottle of Beefeaters Gin, supposedly for me, which the ladies all proceeded to quaff before I could finish one damned drink of it. "The freaking lushes!" I say to myself on watching the gin disappear at record speed. I was amazed watching them drink gasses of it straight. I had to settle with drinking the Chang beer. I think this may have been a nefarious plot cooked up by my lady to deprive me of my gin! She knows what gin does to my libido. It does make me horny as hell for some odd reason. I think she figured, “Hey, drink up his gin and maybe I can get some sleep tonight.” It also gives me horrible hangover headaches, so I don't consume it very often. Even just a few glasses of gin and tonic seem to give me a headache the next day.

Too bad it didn't have the same effect on some of the ladies, preferably mine. They were all loaded to the gills, and they were all green at the gills the next morning as well. I tried to warn them. “That gin can give you one hell of an "overhang" as my lady calls it ladies, so be careful!” I told them all. Of course no one listened to me.

Well, the house was all painted, as I had promised, and the rest of the time was for adventure on the roads of the vast and green countryside, visits to old Khmer ruins in the jungle on the Cambodian border, and partying in Isaan!

Just call me Michelangelo in Isaan. I'll answer.

(To be continued)


Cent
(The Central Scrutinizer)

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