Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 199
Side effects. Ever think about side effects? Well, if you are a young man you probably don't think about side effects because you don't have to. A surfeit of testosterone surging through the plumbing and tissues of your body makes any time spent on reflection, and philosophy, and good habits unnecessary. You are full of jet fuel. Think about side effects? "I'm not afraid of no stinkin' side effects."
But the older man begins to think about side effects. Side effects listed on the medication sheet they give you when they hand you your drugs at the Pharmacy. Side effects of thoughts that can lead to impulsive choices like suicide or homicide. Side effects of actions that can lead to accident or death–like renting motorbikes in Thailand. Nothing is free and every thought, or action, or inaction can trigger another ripple in the pond of your life. Side effects are Life's way of saying: we are paying attention to the Ying and the Yang of your existence; and we are keeping score, and you are not going to get away with anything.
Think of your sojourn in life being measured and calculated by a giant all knowing cosmic Thai girlfriend who hears everything, and knows everything, and can predict everything, and is predisposed to exact retribution when you behave foolishly. Forget about silly ideas like Free Will and Self Determinism and all the rest of the jolly western world's foolish philosophies. Side effects are the universe's way of saying: "Our turn now– you had your fun and now it is time to pay the bill."
Example: Not long ago I was staggering across Cambridge Street in the middle of the night with my head about to explode. I was staggering because I was losing my faculties to greater powers, and I knew my condition was a side effect of high blood pressure and a precursor of cardiac events or brain embolism issues. Twice before I had been foolish in my life regarding lifestyle health issues, and I had made this trip in the back of an ambulance. Now I was staggering in the cold lonely February night. As soon as I was laying in the bed in the Emergency Room the Mass General nurse gave me the standard paperwork to sign that absolves them of any responsibility if they should screw up. One of the conditions that they could not be found liable for in a long list of conditions was a little thought of condition called 'decapitation'.
Decapitation? Hey, I've heard of side effects of incompetence, or extreme medical intervention but this is ridiculous. Isn't it? Hello, I'm asking a question here. Decapitation? Isn't that when your head has been removed from your body? Isn't that when someone cuts your head off? Is that a problem here at the hospital? Hey, has this happened so many times at Massachusetts General Hospital that the hospital attorneys have recommended that it be included in the negative side effects list?
Hospital attorneys to members of Dana's family:
"Yes, we agree that he asked to be admitted to the hospital because he had broken his toe. And yes we agree that the toe is nowhere near the head. And yes we agree that we removed his head from his body by accident. But no we do not agree that we should be held liable for medical malpractice. Dana signed a Medical Waiver sheet upon admittance that specifically mentioned decapitation as something that we could not be held liable for. And no, the inclusion of decapitation does not constitute unreasonable protection for ourselves. After all, the Medical Waiver that the incoming patient is required to read, and to understand, and to sign does not mention:
1. Setting the patient's body on fire.
2. Causing the patient's body to explode.
3. Cutting the patient's body in half.
4. Grafting another penis on to the end of the patient's nose.
5. Removing the patient's eyes and replacing them with bottle caps.
Your honor, we request this hearing be annulled because the Massachusetts General Hospital Patient Waiver Form complies with contract law and the 'reasonable man act' which states that it only presents ideas that reasonable men would think of on their own."
And how would I sue the hospital if my head had been removed? Anyway, my head hurt from elevated blood pressure and I was scared of my immediate future if I did not get medical intervention. I signed the paper.
Now, as I am typing this, I am sick with something else so I am on 250 mg. of Cipro every 12 hours and the Google list of side effects includes 'tendon tearing'. Tendon tearing? Ok, you've got my attention so I will not be going skating tomorrow; but still . . . tendon tearing? Exactly how does that happen? Do the tendons just spontaneously tear? Is this a common enough problem that the Cipro lawyers insist on it being put in the list of side effects? Christ on a cracker what kind of a world do we live in? Decapitation and tendon tearing from the medical professionals who have sworn to heal and to succour? And now dear reader it is segue time.
What kind of a world do we live in? Well, the kind of a world where the man beyond youth engorged testosterone foolishness has to think about side effects. Ergo: what are the side effects of spending time in Thailand? Hey, let's do a list. Let's pretend that some cosmic pharmacist is handing over the counter a bottle full of Thailand to solve whatever ails you. Your physician wrote out 'Thailand' as a prescription for what ails you and the pharmacist is now handing over the little white bag. Inside the bag are the pills and the attached paperwork telling you about dosages and legal exotica and side effects. Your doctor did not mention any of the side effects in his office when he made the recommendation. He just asked you if you had ever taken 'Thailand' before and if so, did you have any negative experiences. You said no to both questions. Ok, the list of side effects on the attached paperwork in the bag.
1. Food poisoning (you will beg to die).
2. Tranny nipple spiking (you will think you died).
3. Real estate swindles (you will wish you were dead).
4. Gem scams.
5. Getting beat up by hoodlums (another near death experience).
6. Heart broken by girlfriend (no reason to live).
7. Stuff stolen by skank, cruiser, whore, or prostitute.
8. Alcoholism (the living death).
9. Loss of dignity (why go on).
10. Loss of health (dying).
11. Nigerian banking schemes.
12. ATM thefts (makes alcoholism seem like a good idea).
13. Local bank habits sending blood pressure through the roof.
14. Local surgeon incompetency (solly sir, wrong leg).
15. Aids (death sentence).
16. Think you have Aids. Think someone else has Aids.
17. Other STD issues (ok, I'm blind but it was worth it).
18. Automobile or motorbike accident (but officer, he hit me).
19. Snake bite (now I know what 'Snay 'n House' means).
20. Parasail accident (farang must pay anyway).
Ok, there are some of the potential (or guaranteed) side effects of you being in Thailand. Many of them have the words death, or dying, or praying for death, or wish to die attached to them. Paradise is great–isn't it? There are many more and of course many of the side effects are what are called multiples. That is, they can happen to you more than once.
Example: if you flip a coin one thousand times it may come up heads 500 times and it may come up tails 500 times. On the other hand it may come up tails 1000 times. Oh, the wacky world of math. In other words, it might be possible to be an expat in Thailand and drive in traffic without trouble, or problem, or accident 3650 times (once a day for ten years–twice a day for five years)–OR–it might also happen that you have 3650 accidents (once a day for ten years–or–twice a day for five years). Could happen. And it is all a side effect of being in Thailand. Neat huh? Ah, paradise.
Similarly it might be that you could happily and thoughtlessly bonk without a condom every day and stay healthy. Or you might catch every STD that it is possible to get and many of them more than once. Could happen. And what would this medical horror that your life had turned into be a side effect of . . . ? Why being in Thailand of course. Russian roulette is a fool's game where you put only one bullet in the gun, spin the chamber, and then pull the trigger. Your odds of a bad experience are one in six. I figure my odds of having a bad medical experience in Thailand are now about six in six. A reasonable man would stop. But then we are talking about me. But I digress . . .
Soooooo . . . it occurs to me that upon landing in Thailand, just like landing in the emergency ward of Massachusetts General Hospital, some nurse-like official at Bhumi airport should present you with a clipboard with a paper on it that lists all of the side effects to visiting the Kingdom that the Kingdom can not be held responsible for. The above twenty listed items would of course be on the list as well as many others. Decapitation would not be on the list but penis amputation would be on the list. That's right, penis amputation. I forgot to mention that side effect of being in Thailand when I was banging out the list of twenty common side effects at the start of this tutorial, but now it occurs to me in huge mental letters. Penis amputation you say? Never heard of it? Well, then you are now like me not long ago laying in the bed at Massachusetts General hospital and staring at the word decapitation and trying to puzzle it out.
That's right, penis amputation. When Thai girls get upset sometimes they cut off their lover's penis. Just another potential side effect to visiting the Land of Smiles. Hey, at least you didn't lose your big head. So anyway, in conclusion: visiting Thailand can have side effects. Are all the side effects negative? No, other side effects might be positive side effects. Thailand is a wonderful country full of wonderful people so wonderful things might happen to you while in the Kingdom. The thing is: positive side effects are interesting to people, but negative side effects are repeatable to people. For reasons not yet divined; humans are attracted like iron filings to a magnet to negative stories full of negative dramas and character assassination. Tell a negative story about someone else, or some place else, or some thing else and you have everyone's attention. Others will appear to bolster and endorse your story or opinion or experience. But tell a positive story about positive people, or places, or things and you are lucky to get a yawn.
Well, positive experiences count too and positive side effects can change your life in a good way. That is why it can benefit you when interacting with a different culture to mix it up a little.
1. You say you are not really interested in cooking? Take the cooking class anyway. Something good might happen.
2. You say your girlfriend wants you to come over to the bar at 4 in the afternoon because it is her day to redo the Buddha shrine: new candles, and new incense, and new food, and new drink, and new flowers. You couldn't care less? Go anyway, you might have fun. People might respond to you differently if you stand there and keep your mouth shut and hand up to her incense sticks, and candles, and food, and drink, and flowers. Don't try to be hip, or show your knowledge of 'Buddhism', or run off at the mouth about how you 'respect' her beliefs. Westerners are sales people. They are always trying to sell something. Stop the selling. Just be there and keep your mouth shut.
3. Your wife wants you to go to Wat Po and take the massage school classes but you don't want to go to Wat Po and subject yourself to mumbo jumbo because you know that all massage in Thailand is bogus and the nation's shame? Go anyway. You might find that non-red-light zone tourists are interesting and ordinary Thais have something to offer.
4. You say you do not want to dress up on vacation? Try it anyway. Dress way up. You might find that ordinary Thais respond to you differently and treat you differently. You might have a positive experience as a side effect of looking adult and successful and civilized.
5. See that nut brown Thai man in the ragged shorts and torn flip-flops directing Indian tourists into the boat for the all day Ko Larn beach-and-boating tour? You can tell just by looking at him that you and he have nothing in common. Really? Try again–speak to him. You might find that he owns the business and that he has a bigger house than you in Chonburi. You might also find that he speaks five languages (Thai, German, Japanese, Indian, and English) and that his passport has more stamps than your passport does. But best of all–you might find that you have something in common. A side effect of speaking to a Thai in Thailand.
So there are negative side effects and there are positive side effects. It all counts. Positive side effects of being in Thailand might include:
1. Regaining your health with better diet, and more sunshine, and more laughing.
2. Falling in love and being in love the rest of your life.
3. Being so happy, and having so much fun, that your need for medications is cut in half.
4. Becoming a more interesting person.
5. Catching up on lost time in the gender relations department.
6. Gaining wisdom through experience.
7. Learning more about yourself.
8. Meeting interesting people.
9. Learning to balance pride and prejudice.
10. Developing tremendous lower back strength from daily bonking.
Side effects guys. Nothing is free. Everything has to be earned, and every action initiates another action or reaction. Your whole life is an evidentiary stagger through chaos theory where the beat of a butterfly's wing is somehow later connected to a tsunami in Indonesia. That girl you spent condomless time with in Chiang Mai? Is there a connection between her soft brown arms and your loss of weight with brain addled fear now? Who knows? But you did not have this health issue before you came to the Kingdom. It's the old Ying and Yang of life making sure that you are in the mixmaster–and it isn't cookie dough that the swirling blades of life are mixing up–it is your life. Side effects on side effects and more side effects being tumbled in on other side effects by the spinning blades of life. Makes western blathering about Free Will look pretty silly doesn't it. Ever spent time between a girls legs with your tongue in Thailand? A girl of easy virtue and 500 baht needs? Think you are going to walk away from that? Think again. Throw the dice enough times and everything comes up. I am amazed at my good health.
Side effects. Side effects of leaving the hotel, or the apartment, or the condo, or the house every day in Thailand and being a player. Good things can happen if you are on the field. You might fall on the ball in a good way. But it is not the good things that clutch at your heart. It is the incoming mortar, or the zip of tracers, or the boom-boom-boom of distant big guns that gets your attention. Negative side effects. Loss of dignity. Loss of money. Loss of health. Loss of dreams. Loss of love. And the big one–loss of time. Enough to keep me away? No . . . what are you–nuts? My plane takes off in January and I will be on the boardwalk in Pattaya smiling at smilers. Side effects?
"I'm not afraid of no stinkin' side effects."
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Oh yeah, never underestimate the side effects!