A Horse Of A Different Colour
Location : Central Shopping Mall – Bangkok.
So there I was, standing in the middle of Starbuck’s, holding my tall latte in one hand and my ham and cheese croissant in the other. I looked around but there were no seats available except for one. I hesitated because the one vacant seat just happened to be at a small table at which was seated that most terrifying of creatures, a western woman.
My mind began to race. -Isn’t it obvious that I just want to sit for a few minutes, devour my coffee and sandwich and bugger off as quickly as possible? What could there possibly be about my demeanour that she could find threatening or intrusive?-
I checked my appearance. My shoes were clean, trousers and shirt clean and neat and my flies were done up. I still felt nervous. I knew when I asked her if this seat is free she will spit out some acidic comment that she learned from a “Female Assertion Course” and glare at me with that withering western female look of disdain. I should have ordered the coffee “to go”. Too late now… I approached slowly, I tried not to startle the woman or make any sudden movements. I swallowed hard then asked in my most polite voice, “Excuse me, may I sit here?” I could feel the beads of sweat form on my forehead as I waited for her swingeing response.
She looked up from her newspaper. I braced myself…..
“Hi. Sure, sit right down” she said without the faintest trace of invective. She returned to reading her newspaper. I suddenly realised my problem. I’ve been reading too many Stickman submissions!!
I exhaled slowly and inaudibly and sat opposite her at the small table. I still just wanted to drink my coffee and sod off with the least possible delay but being a man, first I had to give this woman the once over.
She’d be somewhere in her mid to late thirties, I’d say. Younger than me by six or seven years at a guess. She had light brown curly hair tied back loosely from her face. It might have been a bit too long for a woman of her age but she could get away with that because she had the most striking blue eyes. She was not wearing too much make-up or jewelry but she had a delicate gold chain around her neck and a ring on the third finger of her right hand. She was not wearing a wedding ring. Her fingernails were long and painted. She was wearing a loose fitting blouse and a long flared skirt, with a split up one side, compatible with the climate in Bangkok. Hard to say how tall she was because she was sitting down but she looked to be in pretty good shape for her age and what with being a farang an’all…… Good looking pair of ankles. I bet she’s got a nice pair of legs. Had I never been to Southeast Asia or if she was ten years younger, I might have pegged her as a bit of a cracker. I think she’s American but she could be Canadian……
I’m snapped out of my reverie….. Did she just speak to me?
“I’m sorry, what was that? I was daydreaming” I responded lamely.
“Yes, I see that,” she continued, “I said ‘Do you live in Bangkok?” She folded the newspaper as she spoke as if signaling that reading ‘The Nation’ was now finished and we were about to have a conversation.
What trickery was this? Now I was getting suspicious.
I tell the farang woman that I have lived here for a few years and I work in the office block next door to the shopping mall. Naturally, I ask what brings her to Bangkok and it turns out she’s on holiday with a farang woman friend and they are from Toronto. Ah-ha, I was always pretty good with accents.
I asked if they were enjoying Thailand.
“It’s a bit too hot for us here in Bangkok. We went to Chiang Mai for five days last week and we liked that better.” She tells me. “Apart from being too hot, Bangkok can be a little hectic, don’t you think?”
Yes. I thunk.
I bit into my croissant and had a swig of coffee. My Canadian lunch partner showed no interest in the half full cup of Americano that was sitting on the table in front of her.
“My name’s Cathy” she suddenly volunteered and offered me her hand. I shook it, gently but firmly and told her my name.
“You’re English, aren’t you?” she enquired.
“No, not exactly but I am British” I replied.
“Oh, you must be Scottish” she gushed. “My grandfather was Scottish. He was from Aberdeen. His name was Watson. That’s my name too, Cathy Watson. Do you know Aberdeen?”
“Well actually, I’m from Wales, not Scotland.”
“Oh” she said barely concealing her disappointment.
“So, where is your friend today?” I enquired, trying to re-ignite the conversation.
Cathy informed me her friend Geraldine was doing some holiday gift shopping and should be along shortly. Although I had no idea who Geraldine was or what she looked like, I just wanted to finish my coffee and croissant long before she arrived and sod off back to work. This ‘talking with strange farang women’ business was really not my thing but with that, Geraldine swooped into Starbucks and everybody noticed. She was a long cool blonde, probably a few years younger than Cathy. She was carrying two or three ‘Central’ carrier bags. She pulled up a chair as some had now become available and flopped into it, theatrically feigning exhaustion. After a second she tossed her big blonde mane to one side and fixed me with a flirtatious look. “I’m Geraldine, who’s this?” she said supposedly to Cathy but looking directly at me. I introduced myself.
“He’s from Wales” Cathy interjected.
“Oh really, can you sing?” asked Geraldine.
When you’re Welsh, this happens a lot. Everyone thinks you’re Tom frigging Jones.
We spent the next fifteen minutes yakking away about Thailand and Canada and nothing much in particular and then the two farang women declared it was time for them to go. We said our good-byes and nice-to-meet-yous and off they went. I felt quite happy now. I quite enjoyed that thirty minute interlude with a couple of civilised people. Farang women aren’t so bad really.
I drained my coffee cup and headed back for the office.
A few doors down the mall from Starbucks is a cake shop with a big display cabinet in front of it. Inside the cabinet is a spectacular array of cream cakes, some with chocolate, some with oranges, some decorated with strawberries and if you’re a ‘cake person’ you would have to at least stop and look.
Even I know that most women love cakes but worry endlessly about how much weight eating just one would pile onto their waistline. Anyway, never guess who had stopped to look.
Cathy was standing in front of the display cabinet gazing at the cakes within no doubt having that ‘should I, shouldn’t I’ discussion with herself that all women have just before they buy cakes. As she was standing there, I could better gauge her height (which was about 5ft 7ins) and I was right about another thing, she did have a good pair of legs.
As I walked passed and behind her, I slowed down and said quietly into her ear, “Go on. You know you want to”. She turned quickly and grabbed my forearm with both hands and said, “Yes I want to, but we’re going home tomorrow.”
And so, I ask you. What would you have done?
I would have had my cake and eaten it too!