Stickman Readers' Submissions November 23rd, 2005

Delightful Cambodian Girlfriend (4/7) – Snookyville By Night

— Night One —

Pothole research in the dark: Quietly we walk through black back roads of Occhateal Beach. It's 11 p.m., it's black, it's damp, no wind and almost no sound from the sea. Finding: The potholes on these sois are not too big for a late stroll.

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We hold hands with only a finger or two. We just had so much more of each other.

It feels a bit like we are alone on the world, in these small sois, her and me and a few lonely lights. Not even rats, cats, dogs or beggars. For the cows, they only roam the streets in the morning. But then:

"Chong bantoop teh, chong bantoop teh, chong bantoop teh?"

No, we are not alone. A motodup – a motorcycle taxi driver – has caught up with us and tries to attract Norah's attention. Whispering:

"Chong bantoop teh, chong bantoop teh, chong bantoop teh?"

They both believe I don't understand, but that's easy; he asks if we need a room. Norah looks slightly embarrassed. "Adh chong", she says firmly, we don't need accomodation. He continues his confidential spiel:

"Chong bantoop teh, chong bantoop teh, chong bantoop teh?"

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Motodup should know that Occhateal beach always has a good choice of mid-range rooms between 15 and 30 USD. He should be able to sense from our trance-like state that we just made extensive and appropriate use of our room. But not so:

"Chong bantoop teh, chong bantoop teh, chong bantoop teh?"

"ADH CHONG! Mee'en hoay!" Now Norah sounds quite resolute by her own standards. She says we already have a room. After all, by the motodup's logic she must be a prostitute, the most embarrassing thought for her.

"Chong bantoop teh, chong bantoop teh, chong bantoop teh?"

He follows us on his moto as we stroll on. There is no way to get rid of him. Getting loud wouldn't help, it would only embarrass Norah. Talking to him in Khmer wouldn't help either, he'd still look at the lady. I'd like to show him
the room key, but that's at reception.

"Chong bantoop teh, chong bantoop teh, chong bantoop teh?"

He doesn't give in. If you see a white guy and two Khmers somewhere in the Snookyville night, slowly strolling on – that's us. And listen closely, you will hear:

"Chong bantoop teh, chong bantoop teh, chong bantoop teh?"

— Night Two —

"Please wait me 20 minutes, I go to town and come back." Norah smiles positively at me. We are at the hotel, but it's already 10.30 p.m.

"What are you doing, Norah? It's 10.30 p.m." – She smiles conspiratively. "Just wait!" – I have no idea what she plans? Does she need fried fish, medicine? She has such an enterprising look.

"Will you take the rental moto", I ask her? That's not advisable, a lone girl on a shiny new Honda. – "No", she says, "I take motodup". The motorcycle taxi drivers camp in front of the hotel, I believe they even sleep
there. – "Are you sure, Norah?" – "Yeees, maybe you think dangerous, but I will not do stupid thing. And we know motodup already." She is in her shoes and out.

Well, I guess using a motodup from the hotel driveway is safer for Norah than cruising alone on the rental moto. Still I wonder what she does though? What's your guess? I stand up and look out of the window, but I can't see the road from there.
20 minutes on:

Door opened – door closed – door locked – clack-clack-clack – silence.

"Hey Norah, how was your trip to town? Any shops open?" I turn around. But look at that: Her face is absolutely empty, broken. She sits on the carpet, a place I know she considers low. "NORAH!!!!! Are you ok? Where have you been?"

She starts to speak with a robotical monotonous voice: "I think tomorrow I go back to Phnom Penh." – "WHY???" – "I think better we say goodbye forever." – "WHY? NORAH??? What happened?"

"NORAH?!?!? WHY???" – Her eyes fill with tears: "No speak! Not important!" – "Norah! We had been very happy before! Why did you change?" – "No need to speak, just small thing." – I hand her a tissue. "Norah!
I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT YOU, will you speak to me please?!" – Silence; eyes averted. – "Norah, what about the motodup, did he take you to town and back everything ok?" – Silence.

I know she will completely lock-up if I inquire more. I lay back on the bed and start to leaf through the guidebook, unable to decipher one line.

She snorts: "I think motodup here maybe not good man." – "Why, darling, he asked too much money?" – "No, cannot, I know price already!" – "But what's the problem?" – "Motodup not polite!" – "But
why?" – "Think bad about you and me!!!" – "What did he say then?" – "You want to know?" – "Yes, sure." – "Ah, not important!" Her dark, enigmatic Khmer face is even one f-stop darker than
usual. – "Oh, I want to know of course!" – "But can you hear? He not polite!" – "Norah, I think I can hear, just tell me."

"Pothole, sorry, ok, I tell you he speak what: Motodup ask me I get how much money from you…" – "Yes?" – "…I get how much money from you for make love one time."

It takes one hour to talk her out of her suicidal mood. I try to re-install her as a decent good girl and try to make clear that the primitive mind of a Snookyville motodup just has no concept of love and togetherness and only thinks in terms of money
and jerk-off. Slowly she regains a bit of confidence. I see a chance that tomorrow our beachside holiday might actually continue. I hand her a glass of water, and she accepts it with a shy smile – that's a good sign! Midnight already.

"But Norah?" – "Yes, Pothole?" Wide open eyes, I look right down into her amazing Khmer soul. – "Why did you go to town anyway? What did you do there?"

"Oh, I forgot!" Norah opens her bag and takes something out: She had gone to Central Snookyville at 10.30 p.m. in the night to buy for me a freshly squeezed fruit juice.

Stickman's thoughts:

These Asian women can be so damned sensitive!

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