It’s Not Always The Girl’s Fault
By Looking From The Sidelines
I am a middle-aged guy from the west and have a Thai wife and have been married to her for almost five years now. Yes, I met her in the scene, but we both separated ourselves from it almost immediately after we met with no regrets. That said, my wife
has several sisters and two cousins who still work in several establishments in the greater Bangkok area. The following is a real story (usual names / places changed…) that I have witnessed unfolding over the last three years, concerning a relationship
that another of her cousins has with another westerner. I would like to say that everything has turned out peaches and cream, but looking at the relationship through my wife's and my eyes, I feel her cousin has been victimized.
About three years ago Fon obtained work in a massage establishment attached to one of the larger hotels in town. She was 18 years old from Isaan, an only child, pretty and smart. Contrary to what many people believe of Isaan girls on the game, she neither drinks, gambles, had a series of boyfriends, attempted suicide, or used any drugs ever. Over the course of the nine or ten months she worked, she picked up minimal English skills, but more importantly several loyal repeat customers. Fon didn't make a great living, but she routinely pulled in 12-18,000 baht a month. She let a small apartment in the Suttisan area and looked for work.
Due to her family's situation, grinding poverty, abusive and alcoholic father, she went to the big city attempting to escape the fate that lay before her if she remained. She never sent money home because Fon knew that it was a waste of time and her father would just use the money for drink. Her father's property and shack, if you can call a lean-to that is almost 15 years old and falling apart, is only about 100 meters from our own property in the country. I can attest to his alcohol usage and it is rare to see him sober past noon. Even so, he is a rather harmless drunk, content to drink himself into a stupor 4 – 5 times a week and then sleep it off. He grows just enough rice to fend off starvation and barters the rest away for drink. Fon's mother understood this and, as soon as Fon was old enough to fend for herself, entered a local wat as a kind of nun, so at least she had a roof over her head and food to eat.
Being industrious with some intelligence, Fon knew that she wouldn't always have such a good income. She started a savings account and put in 2-4,000 baht a month for when she ended her work. She continued to reside in her one room apartment, in the Suttisan area, (800 baht a month) with a communal bathroom with four other women who had similar one room apartments attached to the same bathroom. As soon as her father dies, she planned to return home and farm his small plots of land. In a kind of perverse logic, several inhabitants of the village conspired to help Fon. They 'loaned' her father several thousand baht (that he promptly used to buy whiskey) in exchange for promissory notes against his land. The village elders know her father will eventually drink himself to death, but wanted to make sure Fon and her mother will be able to return when that happens and give them the land back. True to form he used the money for drink and when that was gone attempted to sell the property. Her father's attempts since to sell the land for more alcohol were unsuccessful due to the clouded land title. Fon has been told by the village elders that she can buy back the loans for face value if she ever returns to the village, if she promises to live there and return to farming.
Back to Fon, after about a year of work Fon appeared to have finally met her sugar daddy, Peter. He was almost stereotypical of what we hear so often: early 30's, recently divorced about a year before, with one child residing back home in the mid-west with mom, who works as a travelling salesman for a small manufacturing firm in the US. He initially met Fon when she had been working for about six months and visited Bangkok about every 90 days overseeing a small contract. The third time he met with Fon he told her that he wanted to marry her and told her to quit work, which she promptly did.
Fon was ecstatic, early on Peter gave her a credit card and told her she could only use it with his advance permission, which she still possesses and lives by these conditions. Peter arranged to wire her about 10,000 baht a month and asked her to keep logs on how she spent the money. That was enough for Fon, she followed his instructions to the letter. She quit her job and told her regular customers, including one elderly Chinese gentleman who in my wife's terms was "VERY generous", that she was leaving and told them not to contact her again.
When Peter was in town, Fon would religiously call my wife and ask us to come out to dinner with Peter and Fon. The first couple of times this occurred we were both impressed. Peter was devoted to Fon and hung on her every word. It was obvious that passion was burning intensely at the time. At the same time we both noted that he was jealous of Fon and her radiant charms. He often sought my wife's and my opinion of Fon's devotion to him. In between his trips to town, Peter sometimes emailed me for reassurances. I usually promptly emailed him back telling him that we both knew that Fon was remaining true to him. About the same time, Peter provided Fon tuition for a six month spoken English language course for her to attend. Fon took that as a sign that he was committed to her and dutifully went to the course four days a week. By the end of the course, Fon's English language skills had improved dramatically and even surpassed my wife's ability.
About six months into their devoted relationship, Peter announced to Fon that he would no longer use condoms with her. Fon told him fine but, she could not use birth control pills due to allergic reactions. Peter said this was fine and he would be careful. Peter said that he would start looking in to getting her a marriage visa. I suppose everyone could see where this is leading and two more visits down the road, Fon told Peter she was pregnant. She asked Peter if she should get an abortion and confided the same to my wife. Peter said he didn't want her to get an abortion and he was happy to be a father again. Fon said if that was what he wanted she would go ahead and have the baby. Peter said that they would have to delay some on the marriage visa as he was having some court and financial problems with his ex-wife.
Several months down the road, Fon started to ask Peter about the progress on the visa application. Peter told Fon that he couldn't afford to be seen bringing a new wife to town and his ex-wife's family was prominent in the town he lived in and they would have to take this slow. Fon who was now six or seven months pregnant started to worry some. Peter came to town around this point for a two week visit. During the visit he went to several doctor's appointments with Fon and learned they had a son on the way. Peter made arrangements with the hospital to pay for the future visits and the delivery. During the visit, Fon confided with that although Peter was attentive to her, he no longer had any form of sex with her during the visit. Fon with no work, no family close by, and little to occupy herself with, sought comfort in eating. She probably put on an extra 6-8 kilos on her already small frame that she didn't need on top of the pregnancy. Peter returned in December last year for work again when Fon was almost nine months pregnant. Peter announced that he had to return to the US less than two weeks before Fon was due to deliver. Fon was crestfallen at this announcement
Fon gave birth to a perfectly healthy boy in early January, who was obviously the product of a farang relationship. Fon officially registered the baby with his farang family name and the first name of Peter's father. The baby's hair was a light chestnut colour the exact same shade as his father, as well as the rest of his features. (Personal note, sometimes farang genes just obliviate the Thai genes when the children are of mixed race.) We enjoyed several visits with Fon during the next month seeing the new baby. We only half-kidded Fon that she needed to move out of her windowless 12 sq meter apartment to somewhere better for her son. Fon said that she had asked Peter for permission in December to move to a better apartment, and he told her that he needed to think about it. In early February, Peter visited Bangkok again. At my urging we invited the new parents out to dinner. What occurred was one of the stranger experiences in my life.
Peter had taken a suite in the JW Marriott that cost him (his company actually) about 4,000 plus baht a night. We went to their suite where we met Peter and saw the baby. Fon's mother and a cousin of hers came down from Ubon to visit. They were all living in Peter's suite for the duration of his two week stay. We admired the baby who was coming along well, and was the spitting image of Peter. I spoke with Peter about innocuous matters, while the ladies took turns passing the baby around and we all got a chance to hold the baby except Peter. Peter didn't appear to show much interest in his son. I wrote it off to new father nervousness.
My wife and I brought Peter and Fon out to dinner to a nice Italian place near Lumpini Park. During dinner the women mostly talked about light matters in Thai among themselves. I spoke with Peter about a variety of subjects of mutual interest. Twice, I started to drift the conversation about his relationship with Fon and what were their future plans. Peter side-stepped my first comment in that direction. The second time I ventured near the topic, Peter abruptly asked me how was I handling 'the mosquito problem and was our septic tank giving us any problems' at our house on the river upcountry. Taking the hint, I talked about the weather for the remainder of the evening. The dinner painfully dragged out another 45 minutes before we could make our getaway. As we were walking out, I offered to take him out on the town so we could talk privately, but he dismissed the offer out of hand. We said our goodbyes and headed home in different taxis.
After the dinner my wife told me, that she and Fon were happy that I at least tried to draw out Peter on his plans. Although they were talking away they both were hanging on my every word. Fon told her during dinner that Peter would not even touch the baby. Nor would Peter show Fon any affection since he had arrived. In a way only Thais can be frank with each other. Fon told my wife that she had even offered to sexually satisfy Peter orally (Fon said she was still too tender for anything else) several times since he arrived, to which he refused. His routine was to go off to work at 10am return about 1600 and then took dinner in their suite. Fon was afraid to ask Peter what she should do now. The 10,000 baht a month Peter was giving her was no longer enough to pay for the expenses of two and her apartment was no longer fit for a newborn baby. Fon said that she could no longer afford phone cards for her mobile phone and could only receive calls now.
A week after we had dinner, Peter returned to the USA, leaving Fon to return to her apartment. My wife talks to her about once a week and had offered Fon a room at our house upcountry to live in. Fon had to refuse, as it would draw her father to our house
which would set up a heated encounter she wished to avoid.
Fon said she was using her savings, about 30,000 baht worth, to make ends meet in the meantime. My wife is also helping Fon with our old children's clothes, stroller, and formula. Fon is still too proud to accept money, but that can't last more than another month or so.
Six months have now passed since we saw Peter last. He has visited Bangkok once, but told Fon he does not want to socialize with us any longer. He continues to support Fon with the same amount of money and calls her twice a week. His calls are increasingly lacking substance. Fon, who is almost 21 now, has remained true to Peter and does not want to go back to work. Fon has now dropped her weight off, and is cute as ever but is a basket case mentally. Peter no longer emails me. He told Fon after our aforementioned dinner that he was offended when I offered to take him out drinking afterwards. I talked with my wife afterwards if maybe I should email Peter to tell him our concerns. She wisely told me to not say anything and to let Fon and Peter work this out.
I am rather surprised that Peter is even still supporting Fon. It is quite obvious to me that Peter is looking for the escape hatch with Fon but doesn't know how to go about it. He at least acknowledges that he is the father of his son, but will not make any effort to obtain a US passport for his son, thereby at least giving him some options for when he gets older. The idea of getting the marriage visa for Fon is dead in the water. Fon no longer even talks about it, but still thinks one day Peter will come around. With what little Peter is providing for Fon I don't see how he can expect any loyalty from her, but she remains true to him. She didn't exactly lose her virginity to him but once she made up her mind, she threw in her lot with him and has stuck to him through thick and thin.
I am rather embarrassed to see a poor woman beaten down like this and by a fellow countryman at that. Peter at least on the surface appears to have a lot going for him. Fon herself would also have been a good match for Peter, looks to die for, a quick study when it comes to languages (she speaks Thai, Khmer, Lao, Isaan, English and some Chinese), mother of a healthy baby boy, and with minimal family obligations. Letting the relationship drag on is a pity. I think they would both be happy to just admit they could not work it out and they would be free to move on with their lives, albeit, Fon will now go forward as a single mother. Fon I am sure could bounce back, although the road for her to bounce back would have to go via the massage parlour or bar route. I have known her for three years and she truly is a decent person at heart. For all his faults, in my eyes, Peter is a decent enough guy as well. The above said, my wife knows my opinion in this matter but that is as far as it will go. I will not voice my opinion to either party, one – Fon, will eventually be a neighbor of mine, who I hope finds her dreams; and the other – Peter, happens to share my nationality, but no longer can I consider him to be a friend.
Yep, this is a difficult one. On one hand Peter is providing for them but on the other, perhaps he should set her free. Still, perhaps there is something else going on that we do not know about. Whatever the case, this is one of those awful situations where it looks like everyone will lose.