Stickman Readers' Submissions May 26th, 2006

Incountry #12

I know there are a lot of people reading these pages wondering if they would be happy living in Thailand.

There is some truth to the line of reasoning that if you are an unhappy old man in Farangland that you will be an unhappy old man in Thailand, but maybe not.

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If you are a young guy contemplating the move it may not be such a good idea. Most young men I meet are really upset by the fact that there are so many happy old guys living here. This seems to stick in their craw and make them miserable. I don’t know why this makes them miserable but I think it is the fact that love and youth and affection are really commodities for sale and young men are slow to realize this. Perhaps reading too many romance novels about King Arthur and the Knights of the round table contributed to this delusion.

It is the Easter Bunny that goes first and then Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy? I have even seen men well into their 50’s that still believe a women can love a man.

Am I saying that women are biologically incapable of love? No, not at all. Women love their children and sometimes their parents. A man is simply a means to demonstrate love to children or parents. There are of course exceptions to this rule. Romeo and Juliet come to mind, I read the book but never saw the movie. I think Juliet was 15 years or close to it so I wouldn’t have met her anyway.

If you are not encumbered with the belief that a woman can love a man you have a good chance of making it in Thailand.

Not to brag but as a statement of qualifications I have slept with about 1,000 women give or take a couple of hundred (it works out to 1.8 per month, not many really) and employed over 10,000 women. I have had three legal wives and five daughters.

At 60 I figure I am about equal in competitiveness and guile with a 20 year old bargirl. The 23 year old ones get the better of me all the time. A 35 year old male Farang in Thailand is at a heck of a disadvantage.

If truth justice and equality are high on your list of priorities I would suggest this may not be the right place for you.

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If on the other hand you have been in business for a while or been through a couple of wars and seen a whole lot of people killed and maimed for no reason except that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and your leaders had the intelligence of slugs then Thailand might be just the ticket.

If you are a feminist with a Don Quixote complex this is the perfect place to retire.

What is enjoyment of life made of? First we need to separate two categories, do you have to work or don’t you have to work.

Mr. Stick I think has done an enviable job in the work category. Teaching and an interesting and worthwhile sideline which I imagine is not only profitable but serves a higher purpose even to the point of being a life saving vocation. One might even refer to him as the Mother Theresa of punters.

I am in the, almost retired segment. A few extra bucks would not hurt but I am OK one way or the other.

Or the completely retired category.

If you all don’t mind I will deal with the retired category because I can’t see any reason why a sane man would come to Thailand and try to start a business to make money.

I can see starting businesses to have fun, like a bar or massage parlor or Club Eden. If they make money, great but if not the fringe benefits should outweigh the need for profit. I realize the prevailing wisdom is not to sleep with the help but someone has to do quality control checks. Would you run a restaurant and not taste the food? <I have to admit that this is a most amusing analogyStick>

I am sure somewhere in the world there is a bar owner who does not sleep with the help. I am also sure somewhere there is a bar owner who admits he sleeps with the help. I, however have not met either of them yet.

I don’t know what it is like to retire in the UK or Australia but I do know what it is like to retire in the US.

My parents were ill and I moved from Texas to Florida to take care of them. I was 45 and tired of managing four star restaurants. I liked the food, frolic and bevy of waitresses and the slavering of the rich and famous to get a good table or slipping me $50 to remember their name. I found it all rather silly but it was amusing.

I wonder if people in general have any idea what retired people do. How they fill their time. What they talk about.

In Florida (God's little waiting room) they get up and watch the news, eat a nutritious lunch of toast and prune juice and begin the search for early bird dinners. Early bird dinners are discounted meals meant to attract seniors. In reality they are the food the restaurant would have thrown out the night before, sauced and overcooked to appear edible.

I think restaurants in Florida have a deal with local hospitals because stomach complaints lead the list of sicknesses of old people.

After dinner the retired folks go home, throw up, watch the 10 o’clock news, take sleeping pills and go to bed.

When I first got to Florida I looked for a job and found one at a fine dining restaurant. It was the same old thing, 12 hour days with an occasional bonk in the banquet rooms late at night.

A friend told me about working at upscale retirement centers. Resorts for millionaires in their golden years. I did my homework and found the best one. Most years it is ranked as the number one retirement center in the world. Every year it is in the top five. I knew I would have to take a 50% pay cut but 11 to 7 hours instead of 10 to 10 seemed very attractive.

Luck was on my side as the previous food and beverage director had run afoul of the powers that be and was on his way out. They wanted me as much as I wanted them.

The retirement center was completely paid for and had an operating budget of 12 million a year to service 400 residents. It was quite a place. Home of retired movie stars, titans of industry, artists, scientists and politicians. They all had two things in common, a lot of money and families that had almost completely abandoned them.

There were hundreds of sad stories. A Greek brain surgeon once on General Eisenhower’s staff. He had put his two sons through medical school and built a large church for the Greek Orthodox community locally. His boys visited once a year and the church would not even send a car for him to attend services.

A high ranking officer in WW II whose actions had saved the lives of 4 million people (it is a fascinating story, almost unknown) told me he had no friends and no family.

There were jumpers, just like Pattaya. There were all manner of suicides. It cost a million (returned to the community not the individual upon death) for a suite of rooms there and a $30,000 per year maintenance fee. Most of the women residents were happy, most of the men were miserable.

I can’t help contrast this with retirement in Thailand.

I have seen the old expats drunk at four in the afternoon at the local pub. I have heard the stories. You don’t hear much about the success stories.

Being old is not as easy as it looks. Traipsing around with a woman 40 years your junior may look perverted and demonic and totally without moral conscience but beyond all of that it is not easy. It takes practice, co-ordination, courage and a whole lot of prescription medications.

For eight years I watched wealthy retired men sit with drugged, drunk and bored expressions forced to sit through operas, string quartet presentations, poetry readings, political speeches on environmentalism and lectures by the hemlock society.

For the past year I have seen wealthy and semi wealthy and downright poor retired men cavort around Pattaya, Bangkok and Chiang Mai with young women who not only tolerated but in some cases even encouraged their drinking and debauchery.

I don’t get disgusted. I think about Mr. Timinshenko from the retirement center. He held 27 patents on petroleum products and immigrated to the USA in 1920. He made the Russian revolution real to me with his stories over lunch about how the Kiev River ran red with blood as he escaped. He used to pay the nurses who gave him his daily bath $1000 to get in the tub with him. The only person who ever visited him was his druggy grandson looking for a handout or bail for his latest offence.

Mr. Timinshenko would have been a lot happier in Thailand.

Stickman's thoughts:

Chiang Mai Kelly, always a good read.

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