Readers' Submissions

It’s In The Mail




It started as an idea, quite a few months back. I’m in my thirties, still single, don’t own a home, but have no real wish to move anywhere just yet. Maybe it’s some innate nesting instinct. Besides, property prices around here are just plain silly.

Girlfriends? I’ve had a few, but none have really tickled my fancy. Perhaps I didn’t tickle their fancy either. Not that I’d worry about it. I have a hobby that can get expensive at times – I like older sports cars, and like driving them as much as restoring them. So as you can see, I’m not exactly rolling in cash. I guess that tends to put them off a bit.

Dating these days is a bit of a hit or miss affair. I mean, I’ve had my share of nice times with some great girls in my day, but you don’t have much of a selection when you get to be this age. Plus the fact that I tend to be quite selective, and sometimes can’t bring myself to date just any old gal.

Browsing the chatrooms, making inane conversation, having to put up with a lot of drivel, plus trying to be nice to the person who finally shows up for the date who looks nothing like the picture she was hiding behind, knowing damn well that you’d have to feed her (and her ego) before even getting a sniff of anything…

I’ve heard the stories, and one night, I finally snapped. I joined a Bangkok-based dating agency, made a couple of selections, and booked a ticket that would take me halfway around the world.

It felt somewhat like bidding for a used car on eBay, sight unseen, with only a couple of pictures to go on, and not knowing what really to expect. Plus the feeling you get when, as you near the departure date, what if, what if…? Trying to ignore the cold, tense feeling around your nether regions that’s threatening your bladder control – what if I actually won the eBay bid?

Some seven thousand miles away, I now have commitments, and have also set myself up for untold amounts of “I told you so,” from family, friends and strangers. Yes, I should know better. Well, it’s done now. Oh, well.

About the dating agency thing. I did some research. Sadly, said research was after the trip. It appears not all agencies are created equal, and that the girls were not exclusive to one particular agency. Sort of like some used car dealerships. Once the deal is done, they take your money and run. As for guaranteeing your happiness, I don’t see why they even bother to say that when they’re not going to do a damn thing about it. “It’s up to you,” is about as good as it gets.

The one I had narrowed my choice down to looked good. Her history seemed to be pretty good as well. Maybe a little too good. At this point, I guess I still had the ability to walk away. Who cares about glowing testimonials when I’ve got a fair amount of money invested in this venture? But…

The smiles of the customer service at the car dealer… erm, sorry, dating agency did seem a little forced, and I somehow could not shake off the feeling of wondering where they were hiding the knuckle dusters…

The lady in question, I’ll call her Saa. Not quite a Ferrari, but more like an old RX7 with decent paintwork and a smile like a faded hood ornament. Simple lines, nothing overstated. I like. The one thing that got to me, though, was her walk. I couldn’t put my finger on it; to describe it would be like driving a car in a straight line, but with the steering wheel a little off center… I did wonder if certain pertinent details had been left out of her history. Ah, well, one has to have faith. Let’s see if we can hit it off together.

We have dinner at a four-star place. I’d like to get to know Saa a little better, and see if she’d be comfortable in a place that wasn’t your usual McBurger joint. It is also a good way to tell if her character could adapt and cope with a change of scenery. It would be somewhat similar that if you brought your car to a quick-lube place on the cheap, instead of using fully synthetic oils and premium gasoline; you’d never be able to realise the real character or the true performance potential of your vehicle.

Saa is a cute little thing. Obviously communication is a little bit of a problem, but we seem to be coming along well. We seem to be warming to each other, discovering little bits and pieces here and there. It’s like discovering what all those buttons, switches and levers on the dashboard do without the benefit of the owner’s manual. I also love the smell of real leather…

Now that we’ve been seeing each other almost constantly for the last few days, she’s finally made up her mind to come back to my accommodation with me. I guess we’re both a little apprehensive about this. Take things slow, start off easy, then, as you feel more comfortable with the situation, work your way through the gears…

The RX7 is different in that it comes with a rotary engine. Though small, it is capable of really decent performance, and when mated through a slick gearbox putting torque to the rear axle through the universal joint, and finally traction to the pavement, it can make for one sweet ride. I think I’m getting seriously attached to Saa.

It’s almost time to return home, and most of the legal issues have been either settled or are in the process of being finalised. Saa and I have been seeing each other practically every day. It’s absolutely lovely how well we get along – communication levels have increased as we’ve gotten a feel for each other. We seem to mesh like well-oiled cogs; however in the last couple of days she seems to have a synchro or two a bit out of alignment; also a little too much grinding of the gearbox doesn’t bode too well. She’ll go back to her home village to wait for the paperwork to be finalised once I leave.

—–

I’m at work when the call comes in. I vaguely think it was human speech. Engerish? I somehow make my way through the blur of people, sort of remembering going down the stairs but still unable to figure out how I got there. Outside. Gosh, it’s cold. Cigarette, cigarette! Fumble, fumble. Light at last. A long pull slowly brings me back to consciousness. The words slowly come back into focus. “Two thousand dollars?!! For a gearbox and steering realignment procedure?!!”

Cough, cough, cough!

After the shock, comes acceptance. After all what choice did I have? The money had to be spent. She needed to get well. Eventually the depression hit, as I realised the situation was of my own making, and there could (now would) be hidden costs. There’d be more countless “I told you so’s”. Then anger. I should kick myself in the nuts. The thing with that is, it is quite difficult to do. You need a helper for some things.

Denial? It never came to that. The procedure went well, an eventually Saa and I were again reunited. It was as good, or even better, than before. I’d do the same with my cars. After all, you can’t have your RX7 wallowing around like a sick buffalo on bad suspension, can you?

And I guess that’s really the problem of getting involved. It’s almost as addictive as having a love affair with your car. You just don’t know when to stop throwing money at it.

Stickman's thoughts:

A great analogy.