Stickman Readers' Submissions March 7th, 2009

The Heart Rises – And Sinks

A recurring theme in submissions here is money sent to Thai lovelies. Those readers who manage to maintain a permanently rational state of mind no doubt regularly shake their heads in wonderment or shout at the PC monitor at the gullibility of the donors. I would be prepared to put money on it that even some of the donors are puzzled or amused at the innocence, naivety and general stupidity at some of the stories.

It is easy to retain common sense, to apply logic and a healthy scepticism, when you look at a situation from the outside. I believe that it is a common human trait that we can advise others far better than we can advise ourselves. Rationality flies out of the window when confronted by emotion, and many of us are far more astute at recognising shortcomings in others than we are at critically examining our own behaviour.

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Many people with far more experience and knowledge than me, and far better writers than I am, have offered opinions and suggested reasons as to just why Western (mainly) men (mainly) get sucked into the situation where they become ‘donors’ or ‘sponsors’ or whatever. Call it what you will, it all boils down to the same thing – sending money to a Thai girl.

Maybe one day somebody will start a programme (is it 12 steps?) and donors will sit around in a circle and introduce themselves by saying ‘My name is John and I am a donor’. But I don’t think it will happen soon because as far as I understand these things first you have to recognise that you have a problem, then you must decide you want to do something about it.

Herein lies the problem. The results of a completely non-scientific survey (i.e. my reading of submissions on the Stick site) lead me to believe that almost all of the ‘donors’ can read the accounts, and shake their head and roll their eyes secure in the knowledge that their case, their circumstances, their girl are – in that time honoured phrase – ‘different’. Self-delusion is probably the correct term and I am reminded of a comment I read (sorry, I can’t remember the source so I can’t attribute it) which said something like ‘if you were really sure that what you were doing was rational and sensible you would be happy to tell your family and friends about it’. I wonder how ‘donors’ keep their sponsorship to themselves – not because they want to keep their ‘good works’ hidden but because they know that a rational outsider would tell them that they are being stupid.

Now I must take the first step to recovery and confess. My name is John (name changed to protect the stupid) and I am a donor. My case, circumstances and girl are ‘different’, but probably only in my own mind.

In most of my life I am generally mature, sensible, rational, even a little cynical (a subjective view, of course). How did I succumb to this addiction? And yes, I think it may be regarded as an addiction in the same way that a smoker decides to buy ‘just one more pack’ before he gives up, or an alcoholic buys ‘one more bottle’ or the gambler has’ one more bet’. All are irrational, nonsensical and even harmful decisions made against all knowledge and experience but the addict goes ahead anyway.

Excuses abound, of course, as they do for every addiction and human nature being what it is most of us can rationalise away most of the stupid decisions we ever made. I was bowled over by the physical beauty of my Thai girl. I was flattered, encouraged, impressed by her attention and affection. She fulfilled my dreams, and we seemed to share dreams of a common future. And more cynically she probably knows exactly how to play her ‘mark’ just like the best con-man.

And there is, of course, that other factor. I never fell in love with a packet of cigarettes or a bottle of booze despite the best efforts of advertisers. But I did fall for my Thai girl.

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‘Distance relationships’ rarely work out in my opinion and experience. But add to the normal excuses the ‘difference in cultures’ and you can convince yourself to overlook even this. Global communications are fairly easy nowadays. We are in contact most days and the heart rises when I receive the SMS and the words she says. I suspend my cynicism (‘common sense’?) and respond and for a short time we are back on (her) track.

But it doesn’t take long for the SMS to come. The one you have perhaps half-anticipated, though you hope that this time it may be different, ‘John, can you help me? I have a big problem and I need 10,000 baht’.

And the heart sinks …

Stickman's thoughts:

8 years of readers' submissions and 8 years of the weekly column, both of which have the theme that supporting women from abroad seldom works out yet the whole phenomenon is probably bigger now than ever before…

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