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Brokenman Decoded


I just caught the Brokenman saga, which, judging by the response, touches a raw nerve. As one of those 10-year-plus expats you mention, I thought most of Mr. Anonymous’ rather merciless comments hit the spot, and was impressed by his daring use of the L word, normally taboo in expat circles. However, I make a distinction between sex tourists who import a souvenir bride to their unappetizing homeland [unwise], and those of us who enjoy connubial torpor in deepest Thailand, far from the bar scene. Also, I don’t think Thai women can be dismissed as undesirable, merely because they fail to make the pages of some bongo mag, or marry loathsome western celebs. It might even be a point in their favor.

The question is not whether Mr. Brokenman is a tragic victim of Fate, or a complete dork, but why he goes on about it at such excruciating length. What prompts embarrassing revelations that most of us would prefer to keep private, even if, like Mr. B, ‘famed [where?] for a self-deprecating honesty’? [In which case, why boast about it?] The perfect sob story is rarely the whole truth. No one has mentioned the obvious – Mr. B likes suffering, and wants acclaim for it.
One writer asked how his beloved acquired her three cars, business interests, and mysterious English boss, and why he didn’t guess her colorful past. Of course he did. In my 12 years in Thailand, I have met so many guys who, as the saying goes, have left their brains at the airport. They chase the roughest of rough trade [often very nice people when off duty], and invite disaster, which obliges. Then they proudly wear their battle scars, and court disaster all over again, imagining that a broken heart is better than none. Many a squarejohn falls for a dedicated Skylab, whose previous acquaintance with half the US Marine Corps is precisely what gives him a sinister thrill. These guys have a sub-conscious need for grief, and despite ample warning, they find what they seek. Away from the shabby frustrations of their homeland, they are living life in the fast lane! The fact that they are bound to crash is part of the fun.

I don’t claim to understand Thailand any more than I did 12 years ago – strangely, the longer people stay, the less they seem to know about it – but during my bar-hopping time I never had any bad experiences, only amusing ones. I even published a modestly profitable book about them. There is no great secret to this, you just have to shed the romantic baggage, and all the selfish illusions about ‘love’, that many farangs bring with them. As the philosopher said, if you had never heard the word ‘love’, you wouldn’t think of inventing it. Once you come down to Earth, accept that you are not God’s gift to Asia, and that no feast lasts forever, you can chill and enjoy your sanuk. Otherwise…well, read Mr. Leather’s book ‘Private Dancer’.

What comes from Mr. B’s post, as from many, is a colonialist smugness, which treats Thai women like gewgaws in a bazaar, or therapeutic devices, displayed purely for our benefit. Having purchased his souvenir, the farang bargain-hunter carts it back home, and sulks, when it is no longer as cute as it was in the shop. Much is made of B’s thoughtfulness in not going crazy for some teenage honey pot, but selecting a mature model, as from a mail order catalog. You think she didn’t twig? One writer urges him, 'if you eventually find another you want to marry, please put her to the vote with your mates!' Like you'd test a new beer or pickup truck, right? Another advises ‘we’re different people and we have different requirements.’ Do you have that one in a size 8?

There is the assumption that the glorious white male is doing these third world girls a favor by condescending to fall in ‘love’ with them. This soon turns to self-pity, when it appears that the vacation souvenir is nobody’s fool. ‘I bought her a new dress/car/house, so why doesn’t she love me?’ – ‘Don’t all Thai women dream of Birmingham/Bremen/Buffalo?’ I have known many who get upset when their imported lawn furniture walks away. Few learn and move on.

To the advice-seeking lovelorn I repeat as diplomatically as possible: ‘You think you’re Charlie Big Spuds, but you’re a mug. Would you behave like this with a girl back home? Then why is it different here? The rules are universal: don’t play with more than you can afford to lose, get your infrastructure right – job, home, cash – before anything else, and look before you leap.’ Question: from whom is his money soon parted?

People often claim to be seeking a soulmate. What gives them the idea they have souls anyone would want to mate with? They talk as if Thailand is obliged by international treaty to provide them with eternal bliss, and act wounded when it fails to do so. As for dragging some poor girl back to a dump in the West Midlands, for a life of beer, soccer, and nerve-jangling accents, why, most English girls would flee such a prospect. An American who brought his Thai toy back to Podunk, North Dakota, might also wonder why she ran away.

I felt some sympathy for Mr. B, as I generally do in these ‘what a same story’ cases. Then I read: ‘Now as a rule Chinese birds with their cadaver complexions and flat faces don’t do it for me but I am led to believe the Chinese we see in UK are from Hong Kong and the southern part of China which is famed for the ugliness of its womanhood.’ Led to believe, by which oaf in a pub? Famed, amongst which connoisseurs? And why should ‘Chinese birds’ from the world’s oldest culture feel obliged to do anything at all for a beery provincial? With such a brain-dead racist attitude, any guy is cruising for a bruising.

In parading his misery in such detail – even a cringe-making case of impotence, as if he hasn’t heard of Viagra – Mr. B is really boasting of his success in getting exactly what he wants. He isn’t looking for a wife, he is looking for an excuse to wallow in self-pity. [I’ve seen this so much, I could write the script.] Her three cars, her unpayable debts, her desertion to work in a cathouse in London, then his failure with the Chinese lady…it’s perfect. Your soulmate is doing it with strangers, and you can’t even get it up! Such exquisite torment! Losing your job is an unexpected bonus. Then, a job in the Gulf, which most people would jump at, well, of course you will hate living in a Muslim country, so that’s perfect too. And being wincingly polite and reasonable and self-deprecating makes doormat status all the more thrilling.

The next non-cadaverous Thai ‘bird’ he ‘tests’ will treat him the same…and the next, and the next. So he seems destined to enjoy a glorious old age of grief, weeping delicious tears, emitting millions of words about his serial victimhood, and relishing the sympathy of the other boozers and losers. In fact, he gives the impression he is more interested in alehouse male bonding than in girls, and maybe that is the real point of his misery memoir. Don’t English men like women who spank them? Mr. B is happy. Case closed.

Thai Dating, Singles and Personals

Stickman's thoughts:

It is always a shame when someone makes a number good points feels the need to mix them up with projection and vitriol. Too much of what you assume about Brokenman is just that, assumed. And I am sorry, but such frank nastiness will endear you to few. Sure, point out the mistakes someone has made by all means. It's useful and we can all learn from it. But is there any need to not just put the knife in but twist it too?