A New Life
Mickey had traveled a bit, he told me, before settling into a small guesthouse in Karon, three hundred baht a night
with a restaurant and an internet store off the lobby. Mickey was a day-trader which meant here that he worked at night, the time difference being twelve hours between Thailand and America.
Mickey was a retired American making a few bucks from what he said was more of a hobby than a job and like most expatriates that settle here was looking to start a new life and or forget an old one like those past middle-age white guys you see walking around holding hands with Thai boys. Back in America they left the strain and struggle of real life, marriage and children to become all that they can be or however that advertisement goes. Many of us that settle in Thailand are emotionally damaged or dare I say crippled by having no previous life at all or too much of it thrown at us. Mickey had both. He had the combination of being insecure, just a bit unattractive, in a dead end job, no real life to speak of and then all at once it jumped up and bit him on the a##.
One night while we were out drinking in a local beer bar and having a few Mekong Moments, I call them, Mekong whiskey that is, too many of them, he confided to me that he had been married and that his wife was dead.
‘Don’t worry’, I told him, ‘You’re in Thailand now; life will be easy for you.’
No matter, he went on to tell me that he and his wife had not been getting along, arguing all the time, on and on and then one morning after he had taken a shower he tried to find his wife in the house, couldn’t find her, looked all over and then discovered her in the basement. She had just hung herself from a rafter. Obviously these people are disturbed but she had made sure that he would be the one to find her. “I’ll show him”, she must have been thinking. “I’ll get even on him”.
They say that sometimes suicide is hate for someone else turned inward and I would venture that this was the case. She hated her life and hated him.
Well, for once I was out of words. I managed to say I’m sorry or something equally inane. But life does go on and he met an attractive twenty-two year old Thai girl that helped out behind the desk at the guesthouse, and collected the few dollars from the internet and copy shop.
One day he asked the girl, ‘How much do you make working here?’
One hundred dollars a month was the reply. Her English was good having, she claimed, just graduated from Kasetsart University in Bangkok with a degree in business.
‘Hell, I make that in an hour,’ exclaimed Mickey, not mentioning the fact that he also lost that amount in five minutes in this day trading business, which is when you buy a stock in the morning and hope it goes up by the time the
afternoon rolls around.
As my neighbor is telling me this story, being a jaded, skeptical old grump, I am thinking a few things, like if she graduated from college, what is she doing here in a guesthouse and why is Mickey claiming to be wealthy whether it's true or not; telling this to a Thai girl is like throwing a cup of gasoline on a barbeque. (You’ll get attention all right but a good burn is also possible)
The likely answers that spring to mind are that her English was good as she probably studied at the University of Sukhumvit and that Mickey was a bit of a braggart because he was about sixty years old and looked more like Mickey Rooney than Mickey Rourke which may have been a good thing. Who knows? But when men arrive and see the natural beauties of Thailand sometimes one feels just a bit intimidated. After all, what chance would an old duffer like Mickey have with a young beauty like this if he weren’t a mover and shaker?
After a few weeks of keeping company Mickey popped the question and off they went to a village in the wilds of, you guessed it, Issarn. Mickey met the parents who lived in a wooden shack on stilts above a few pigs and chickens.
He was able to discern that they made a meager living by farming but if they owned the land or just worked it no one was able to tell him. What they could tell him was that the sin sot would be a cool one million baht, this from people who ate on the floor and pooped in the back yard. They might be poor but they weren’t stupid. And one million it was, after the ceremony Mickey brought his bride back and rented a house in Karon. The liveliness and energy she displayed while working at the guesthouse seemed to fade away like a slow leaking spare tire. Her major occupations seemed to be watching television and sleeping, something she excelled at and could do any time of the day. Her romantic attentiveness only sprung to life after a shopping trip to Robinson's. She demanded and received a new Honda SUV, a big one which when Mickey put it in his name she had a screaming fit for a week and was only placated when he bought her a new motorcycle.
Life went along nicely enough until this year when Mickey’s day trading went into to the toilet, as did everyone else’s. He tried to explain to her that she could purchase a bra and panties at the local market for a few hundred baht but she could not understand why she should when she could get practically the same thing at Central for a thousand baht or more. The lack of communication and understanding were not easy for Mickey to straighten out. They needed to cut back, spend less money. She was angry and took the car back up to visit her parents for the week.
When love goes bad in Thailand where does one turn to? God? The church? Your friends, relatives, neighbors?
No of course not, here, one turns to demon rum. Yes, no kidding, good old Sang Som eighty proof rum freshly made from sugar cane. Cheap and reliable. Since Mickey was left with only the motorbike I played good Samaritan and took him out a few nights and listened to his tale of woe. He was now literally broke, having been day or is it night trading under the influence of a broken heart and Sang Som. He was so depressed that when I came over to his house to check on him he was sitting on a sofa just staring into space. Amazingly, to me anyway, he was not so concerned about not having any money as he was the fact that his wife might leave him. That really depressed him, but then he would cheer up and say ‘I know she really loves me and will stick with me.’
Stupid and realistic old me just had to say, ‘Mickey, how old are you now? How old is she? You are what, three times her age? And she loves you? Don’t you know that this is just a business relationship? That’s how it goes in Thailand.
Well, he became furious and threw me out of his house. Should have kept my mouth shut I thought but when is it time to face facts?
Mickey’s wife came back yesterday and told him that she was leaving just as soon as she could pack up her things, say good bye to her friends at the guesthouse and she was never coming back and was taking the car with her even if it wasn’t in her name. Mickey came over to my house this morning and asked me to hold on to an envelope for him. That’s all he said, just hold on to this for me. It was sealed and taped but I felt around it pretty good and it feels like his passport and credit cards are in there along with some papers and maybe letters. I insisted he come out for a drink with me tonight or come and have dinner with me, anything but just let’s talk. He refuses to leave his couch and is just sitting there while his wife packs up as many kitchen appliances and stuff as she can fit in the car. He doesn’t care, he’s just sitting there. See you tomorrow I finally said to him, ignoring his wife at the same time.
Mickey just smiled and waved to me.
There are so many Mickeys out there. They really should listen to their mates…