Readers' Submissions

It’s Not Written on the Tee-Shirt

  • Written by BKKSteve
  • April 5th, 2008
  • 20 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok


Surfing was something that almost everyone did where I came from, Santa Monica beach is between Venice Beach and Malibu beach and almost all the kids I went to school with who came from these beachfront towns surfed. Awesome eh? From our “Hang-Ten” brand swim trunks to our sub-bleached hair and deep year long tans we all mostly ‘looked the same’ despite coming from many different ethnic backgrounds. More, our speech/slang was totally rad and set up apart from those not in the game. We’d often have sex wax stuck under our nails or small clumps of epoxy stuck on our school clothes from repairing dings and waxing the boards. Do you think “signing” started with gangs and hip hop? Not a chance, surfers have been using signing amongst each other to single “outsiders” and “rips” and other information from a distance when you couldn’t shout over the roar of the ocean. So dude, totally tubular we were.

Then there were the “Valley’s”, who came over the “hill” from the San Fernando Valley by the bus load to stink up our beaches. These dudes would talk funny, tried to wear the same clothes but didn’t wear them the same way we did, and their boards.. what a joke. They wouldn’t know how to properly repair a ding to save their lives and most looked like rejects from ten seasons ago. And of course they couldn’t walk the walk either, once they hit the water you could pick them out almost as easily as when they opened their mouth and you could hear the differences in speech/slang. Give them the sign for an outsider and they’d sit there with a dumb look on their face as the biggest wave of the hour fell on top of them. They just didn’t get it.. No wonder the concrete tunnel exactly in the middle of Topanga Canyon between the beach and the valley said “surfers go home” on one side and “valleys go home” on the other. We didn’t need to wear a tee-shirt that said “SURFER” or “Valley” to know who each other was, even at distance.

Drug users. How many of you who have experience in the drug culture spoke a certain slang, wore certain jewelry or clothes, and knew the same people who did the same things? Any surprise that a cop, even from another country, can pick out another cop even at a distance? Military men? Pilots? Calluses on the pads of guitar player fingers? Embedded grease in the skin and under the nails of car guys? Metal splinters stuck under the skin of machinists? I’m sure we can all think of numerous examples.

I served four years on the San Diego Police Department. The police academy was educational and an eye opener, but we really didn’t learn about the “streets” until out on patrol and on the streets. How do you pick out a drug user? A gang member? Someone carrying a handgun? Someone being a lookout for someone else committing a crime? A truant teen? Pick out a street racer? A junkie a few hours away from needing a fix who has no money and is looking to nick a car stereo? Folks, while I might have been able to tell a surfer from a valley, until I had at least a few months on the streets as a cop I could never have picked out a guy standing next to me with a bazooka under his trench coat much less the subtle cues of a high end hooker. Yet, I lived amongst such individuals my entire life. Have you ever had someone who made you feel uncomfortable, possibly in danger, creepy, but didn’t know why? You just hadn’t refined your skills and perceptions yet. Of course no one bats 1000 every season, but you learn to get pretty damn close when it means the guy walking towards you could pull out a gun and target you just because you wear a badge.

I used to think “us” police officers were shit hot at this sort of thing but we weren’t even in the same league as Custom Agents and Border Patrolmen. Have you ever wondered why the customs agents are just sitting around joking with each other while scores of people walk the green line, and then for no apparent reason they stop a guy in a nice business suit, and open his big roller to reveal a caseload of illegal cigarettes and booze? Or when going through the San Onofre check point on I-5 and everyone is going through while the border patrolmen look bored as hell, but all of a sudden 4-5 cars at once or signaled over to the inspection lane? I always thought it was mostly random harassment, that was until I had a chance to learn from them during interagency exchanges. These guys are GREAT at what they do. Sure, many get past with illegal contraband and trunk loads of pollo’s, but many also get nabbed. Any long term agent will tell you that they knowingly let offenders go by, just as any cop will tell you they can’t ticket every speeder. What they do, based on available time, resources, and even mood, is select the worst offenders while letting others go by. Besides, we’ll see the same guy speeding home from work at the same time using the same route another day, and they’ll see the same traveler coming from the same flight dragging the same piece of luggage soon enough. Maybe next time through customs you’ll be the worst offender.. BTW – experienced mules know this, and purposely profile themselves accordingly.. but sometimes an agent will select a “frequent flyer” over an inexperienced traveler knowing that while today’s confiscation will be less, overall they’ll do more good.

A few months back I was staying with visiting friends at the Marriott Resort in Hua Hin. This is mostly a “rich white European/American” place and with few exceptions the only Thai’s there are the staff. From a distance I noticed an older guy with a youngish Thai gal and something in my head clicked “she’s a bar girl (among other things).” I didn’t think much of it, perhaps it was her low cut cheap brand jeans, tats on her shoulders and neck, permanent eye liner, and the way she looked bored but at the same time hung on to his every word. Later that evening I was in the outdoor bar area listening to music and found myself seated next to them. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I heard them discussing how she was going to have to say she worked at a grocery store in Korat instead of in the bar where they met.. when they went for her visa interview the next day!

Which brings me back about 7-8 years to my first visit to the American Embassy visa section. I was there to get a tourist visa for my girlfriend. She had no bank account, no education, had only worked at her job a few months, and owned no property nor did she know anyone important. We sat there waiting to be called in a fairly large room with many couples trying to get the same type of visa. I remember being more than surprised that these guys hadn’t bothered to dress even in long pants much less nice casual, that they didn’t discourage their girlfriends from wearing “bar clothes” or not wearing something to cover their brands. I started counting the “tells” of the girls in the room and stopped at over 100 because I got bored. Either these guys were clueless, or they were just going through the motions and throwing away their time and application fees. BTW – The nice visa officer who granted her a six month tourist visa remarked that we would probably be the only couple getting a tourist visa today. I must have looked a bit surprised because he then asked “what agency are you with?” One brother recognizing another.

Last week I wrote a submission, mostly tongue in cheek, titled “You Can’t go Back Again, the Point of No Return.” It was tongue in cheek because I really didn’t expect any regular readers of Stickman to NOT already know the information, so I was trying to liven it up a bit and make it more interesting. Imagine my surprise at the huge number of responses, many negative, that followed.

I’ll start off by saying this: On one forum where many regular Stickman readers discuss submissions I know many of the members, just as I know Dana and Korski who publicly responded on Stickman. What was interesting.. was that the people I knew to be “regular” mongers, took the most offence to the submission and argued the most that I wasn’t correct. Does the saying “He Who Protest-eth Too Damn Much” ring a bell? What a prime example this was! The ones who are not regular mongers, or very infrequent or long past mongers.. said nary a word.

I’d also like to say that I was not moralizing, nor did I say anyone was better than anyone else. I was merely discussing the realities of the topic. I think it quite a stretch to say I was being a pre-cursor to genocide or a closet Evangelical Christian. Why would a person try to ‘defend’ their views on the matter in such terms? Ok, it doesn’t take an experienced Customs Agent or Border Patrolman to figure that one out…

Being secure in my beliefs and thoughts, and not feeling it necessary to make people disbelieve the obvious, I WILL NOT be addressing Korski’s rebuttal line for line as he did mine. What I will do is take a few examples which are appropriately germane and discuss them. I will say it’s quite funny to attempt supporting your side of the debate by saying the other guy was “assuming” and wasn’t citing academic/scientific studies.. and then go on to assume about the other guy on almost every point and not cite a single study of your own. If secure in your thoughts, why the need to denigrate and question the character of the person you’re debating? Or maybe it’s not funny at all. Perhaps it’s arrogance and genuine lack of respect for me and the Stickman readers intelligence level? But I digress..

Lets’ start with Stick’s comment at the end of Korski’s sub “The Monger Mind and His Behavior: Inferring What Cannot be Inferred.” Stick wrote: “It is impossible to tell someone from looking at them, just like your cited example of Dana.” Ok, for some to “get it” the person might need to be wearing the tee-shirt that clearly states in big block letters “I AM A MONGER” but I think he’s wrong. It surprises me that out of the entire submission I wrote, all 1886 words of it, anyone would think I wrote that you could tell a monger ONLY by “looking at them.” Indeed, in some cases you can tell simply by looking and I’m sure we can all think of scenarios where this would be true. But the reason for 1886 words, was to discuss the many cues, tells, and visualizations that together on an individual basis supports your judgment.

About six months ago one of the Schoochers forum members who is an admitted 30 year monger veteran of Thailand (though now happily married with two lovely daughters) noticed a tattoo on a lady I’d photographed and immediately said “she’s a whore!” He then went on in that thread to argue adamantly that he could tell she was a whore only because of her tattoos. I use the word “whore” because this was his word, normally I would have said “bargirl.” I argued in that thread that you can’t tell she’s a bargirl ‘just because’ of the tats knowing full well she was indeed a bargirl. There were other visual cues in the image, perhaps he cued in on them subconsciously but could only focus on one? Anyway, this man made one of the strongest rebuttals against last weeks submission. Perhaps his rebuttal was tongue in cheek?

Lets move on to Korski’s long list of assumptions. He said “He gives us this early claim: “My personal experiences with women, and women in Thailand, reveal that women can almost instantly tell that I’ve never been a monger [my bolding].” “I have no idea how he knows this, unless he has asked numerous Thais and non-Thais women, which I seriously doubt. I am as positive as I am certain of my mortality that this is an utterly empty claim. Neither a Thai nor a non-Thai woman, or man, can correctly infer whether or not I have been with one, or five or five hundred prostitutes,”…

Quite the assumption, despite my own experiences with Thai women which it appears he knows less about than his own morality, but I’d hazard a guess that most of us have discussed this subject with more than several Thai women, at least if we’ve lived in or visited Thailand for any length of time. This is a common topic of discussion as you sit there with your girlfriend and the stereotypical old man and young bargirl walk past. In fact, hasn’t this exact scenario been written about in Stickman submissions more times than we can count? And who hasn’t discussed this topic with western women “back home” once someone finds out you spend time in Thailand? You don’t need to ask in most cases, they tell you…

Still, to go on I have a habit when I write a submission of this type. I sent a draft to 5-6 different Thai women and a couple western women I know and respect and solicit input. The profiles of these women are as follows: Thai, early 40’s, doctor, MD earned in the states. Class her “hi-so.” Thai, 25, born and raised on a farm in Chiang Rai, law school grad, currently in a western country attending nursing school. Thai, 26, born on a farm in Phrae, R-U grad, currently earning her masters in France in French. Thai, late 30’s, Ph.d earned in the states. Class her “earned hi-so.” Thai, 30, bachelors in comm study, Bangkok born and middle class. American, 58, AA in accounting, middle class. American, 47, high school grad, middle class.

What is interesting, is that not only did all seven of these ladies agree 100% with what I wrote, in-so-much as it applies to women, but several also shared it with other women who also agreed. Gentlemen, women KNOW. Ask them directly. I have. Any man who thinks he’s fooling his wife about his past is simply married to a woman who loves him enough for his other qualities to not care about the others. Does any man think a man could be married to an experienced prostitute and not know at some level? Of course we know, but in some cases the woman has enough other valuable traits that we accept her past and don’t feel it would serve anyone to insist on airing the past. Sure, I’m speaking in general as I’m sure like anything else there is the minority out there.

Not wanting to totally disagree with Korski I’ll quote his submission next with this excerpt: “BKKSW goes on, to make sure that we understand how different he “looks” and “smells” and postures and speaks than someone who is a hooker addict. He says: “What makes a stunningly beautiful “good girl” overlook a 20 year age difference? A growing bald spot? A weak bank account? All it takes is them being able to tell you’re not a monger, not a big drinker, and not a smoker. And that you’re fun.”

All this is utterly unsupportable by any facts I know about or am aware of.””

Of course Korski knows nothing of my personal life much less my love life.. but perhaps he was simply saying that this just doesn’t happen to him? He accuses me of having an ego, but perhaps it’s his ego that won’t allow him to see why another man would have the successes he’s been denied? Because he drinks, smokes, and mongers perhaps? I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

One more Korski submission excerpt for fun: “It is theoretically possible that BKKSW around women has an utterly unbeatable and magnetic personality, and women of all ages find him irresistible. But if this is the case, I would again bet the house and the barn and the old lady’s fortune that the opening of “female hearts and minds” has absolutely nothing to do with whether BKKSW has been with one or 1,000 hookers, and I would further venture that unless he met the Thai women that go absolutely bananas for him in Pattaya or around Nana Plaza or Soi Cowboy, it would not even occur to them to wonder whether or not he had even been with a hooker.”

Korski probably doesn’t own a house and barn, he probably lost it gambling long ago. OF COURSE THAI WOMEN WONDER IF men who live and/or have visited Thailand many times have been with hookers. My gosh, if I hadn’t met the man inside Thailand I’d have to wonder if he’s ever been to Thailand at all after saying something like this.

No more excerpts, but let’s talk about the style of his submission and the style of my submission he was responding to. First, there isn’t anything I said in my submission, or he said in his, that couldn’t be argued either way. If you disassemble a submission piece by piece it becomes very easy to pick out bits and pieces, use them out of context, and counter the argument. Any sort of meaningful rebuttal has to take the original piece in its entirety, and in context. Only a fool would attack an “opinion piece” for “assumptions” and “not citing studies” by using “assumptions” of their own..

Next, you must consider the “tone” of the writer. Sure, a spirited exchange will often include a few good natured jabs, but when the entire piece reeks of character and personal attacks not only does it smell like “immature teenage boy” but it shows you either were personally offended (read guilty of all charges) or you’re trying to distract the reader from the debate itself. Perhaps both?

This all lends itself to credibility. Like many of you I also have degrees from universities, and like most of you I’m not in the habit of telling the readers about them, or trying to gain credibility by intentionally including in my sub that I’m a university professor who lectures students , writes books, and yada yada yada. Instead, I’ll use personal anecdotes, logic, writing techniques, and give examples we can all relate to and/or understand. I personally think this is how you best support your side of a debate, unless.. you’re trying to distract and disparage because.. well.. you’ve got little else to stand on.

Speaking of credibility, exactly how much credibility do you assign someone unwilling to take a stand either way? Either you are a monger, or you aren’t a monger. It’s more than a bit hypocritical to write a sub telling the world that I can’t know what I’m talking about because I’m not a monger.. and then go on to tell everyone all about mongers and how they think and behave, and even title your submission “THE MONGER MIND AND HIS BEHAVIOR”, and then take every effort to not admit what he is either way. Perhaps he just thinks he’s special, that he can do what he says no other man can do? Perhaps he thinks because he’s ‘claimed’ to have written a book on hookers he somehow knows all about something he’s never experienced? In the real world such things happen all the time, we study, we research, we interview, we live, and through comparison of this learning to other experience sets we come about a learned knowledge. He claims I’ve never had a GFE, but has he? I have, I’ve had lots of girlfriends and I know exactly what it’s like to have a girlfriend. I’m told the beauty of the GFE is that you get the feeling and benefits of a real girlfriend, but without the obligation of one. I’ve had many of these, the big difference is that some pay to have such experiences and most of us have had the pleasure without paying. “Obligation” is something you can determine between adults, you don’t always have to pay for it. How did he miss this in the decades more of living he’s done over me? Maybe he hasn’t, maybe he’s either grasping at straws because his feelings were hurt or he just doesn’t see that this point is just as weak in logic and thought as the rest of his many “points?” Credibility is key, and I cannot assign credibility to someone unwilling to take a stand on the very subject he professes to know so much about. Once and for all Korski, are you a monger or aren’t you? And if not, why do you think you can know inside the mind of the monger and no one else can? Revealing isn’t it?

I think it’s natural, if not completely honest, to not want to see anything negative in our behaviors. Everyone wants to be seen in a good light, everyone wants to be healthy in their old age, and everyone wants people to like them and not think bad things about them. All of this I understand. Yet, despite what we want virtually all of us have behaviors, habits, or conditions that certain people judge negatively and I’m certainly no exception. Some of our most unhealthy vises, drug use, drinking, and smoking, are often vigorously defended and often in irrational terms. We can all probably think of such a situation we can see, but the person with the vice cannot.. or will not. I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind, or habits. The most I can hope for is to get people to give some thought to the subject. Perhaps it will be something you can benefit from, or perhaps despite what certain people may think.. you just think differently. Nothing wrong with that..

Until next time..

Stickman's thoughts:

Hmmm…