Working Girl for a Year
Lek's family was neither disintegrated nor poor.
They had their modest house and a patcha land up in, of course, Buriram. They grew rice and vegetables. Lek finished high school and was told to marry an old school friend. Big, colorful, turbulent Isaan style wedding.
Just married, just pregnant, she discovered her husband's karaoke parlor addiction.
Just married, just pregnant, she declared divorce.
Lek cried for weeks and weeks. Her husband's family sent emissaries to Lek's family to lure her back onto the marriage trek. After all she was considered a hard-working, village-smart, down-to-earth gal. Her looks could not have been a consideration though. Lek cried and cried and cried her heart out as she felt the young one moving in her tummy. But Lek didn't back down.
Her parent's shuffled silently around the house.
Her father murmured: Well if you do think he's no good, ok divorce him.
Her mother whispered: Of course I can take care of the baby if need be.
Lek was already divorced when her son was born. She immediately handed the newborn to her mother and boarded the VIP bus to that gleaming city on Chao Phraya river. She started in a textile factory, but moved up soon. She was cashier for a company delivering building materials to the Suvarnabhumi airport construction site. When robbers killed two other cashiers she quit and worked for the Central mall in Bang-Na. This meant that she could not go home to Buriram for Songkran and other holidays; but on those days she earned very handsome commissions from the sales in her department.
Lek even moved back to Buriram and managed a mango plantation, controlling a few dozen hired helpers and decided who deserved regular pay, extra pay or a reduced pay because of laziness. Tough black-burnt Isaan faces respected tiny Lek's regiment and even called her to ask for more jobs.
Lek's older sister drove the family car into oncoming traffic. The sister was dead, as were three persons in the other vehicle. The family car had no insurance.
The court decided that Lek's family had to pay 100,000 baht for each person killed. Add all other charges, fees and costs and Lek's family now looked at a debt of 1,000,000 baht. <Can they do this? I mean, can damages be awarded against the clan for the actions of a now deceased member? – Stick>
At that time, fortunately, a respected Buriram lady reached out to various young Buriram girls: Would they like to work in her massage enterprise in the gleaming national capital? The lady personally convinced Lek to try the massage option. Only rich westerners would be the target group and no mango plantation could compete with the revenues on the horizon.
– But I know nothing about massage, Lek said.
– We'll teach you of course, the Buriram lady replied with a confident smile.
One early morning the Buriram lady squeezed five Buriram girls into her pickup and they entered highway 218, then 24, for the long journey to Bangkok.
– How did they teach you what you had to do, I asked Lek as we lay on the bed, cuddled up, one of those laid back evenings.
– Lek laughed: We practiced on her husband.
It's true. Lesson 1 was quite a surprise for farm girl Lek from Buriram: The husband of the Buriram lady, an oily Bangkok pimp, entered the room, unzipped and produced his penis. Five innocent Buriram jaws dropped one meter. The pimp husband lay down on the massage chaise and his wife, the respected Buriram lady, showed in all detail how to fondle her hubby’s dongle into full armour.
Then each girl had her go.
– When it was my turn, I trembled all over, Lek whispered into my ear, smiling about her own inexperience and innocence back then. She said: I had to touch him there (she touched me there) and when I did something wrong (she did something wrong, ouch) he would take my hand and move it in a better position, explaining how to play him better (she moved her hand and played me better).
– Did you finish him, I moaned.
– No, she said, the Buriram lady announced that she was horny too. She asked us to leave the room and wanted to personally finish her husband (Lek personally finished me).
For three mornings the five innocent Buriram girls practiced on the Bangkok pimp's penis, and no other body part. None of them had known of the job's naughty character. And none fled the job. They were not at all captives: They could have left, even with return trip money from the Buriram lady, if they had wanted to go back to Buriram.
Then came Lek's first working day.
This was the system in the shop: You book a Thai massage for around 800 baht per hour, payable to the cashier downstairs. You retreat to a prison cell on the second floor and get barely any Thai massage. Instead you shower with your masseuse and get a HJ (500 baht), BJ (1000 baht) or FS (1500 baht), these fees payable directly to the service girl. The prices are not signposted, but well-known.
A rich, good-looking westerner with a suave smile entered the reception area and ordered a Thai massage. The cashier wanted to call a lady for him from the back room (a girl with few customers in that month gets jobs like that). But the westerner insisted on a selection. The cashier produced the album with photo studio shots of her masseuses stable. But the westerner insisted to see the damsels personally, so around five girls lined up for him in the crammed reception area.
He smiled and politely pointed at Lek. Her heart fell down a meter. Looks could not have been a consideration though.
– She is very new, advised the cashier. You are her first customer.
– That's fine, smiled the farung.
The westerner laughed the upstairs prison cells off and brought Lek to his room in the Marriot hotel, where he first tried to feed the minibar into her.
But Lek trembled uncontrollably: For the first time in her life she had to perform on a westerner, a westerner she never met before, only the second guy in her life, in a frighteningly posh strange environment.
– Can you imagine that, Lek asked me on the sheets, still cleaning me with a tissue, back then I trembled all over with fear and could not even open the Johnson baby oil bottle. I also cried.
– I can imagine that, I replied, and I am glad that it's actually still possible to imagine you that way.
Lek couldn't perform on that first farung. Instead, the westerner gave her a massage and a generous tip on top. He was such a nice, friendly man, Lek smiled, my first customer, in the Marriot, really good heart.
Later, when Lek and I roamed Bangkok streets like old friends, Lek would point to the Landmark, the Westin, the Amari Watergate and say something like: They have great rooms there. I had a very kind customer on the 17th floor, he still calls me from England; John. Or she’d go: A rich man booked me into this one, but I didn’t like him. He called me again many times but I always said I have my mens.
Because Lek soon rose to the challenge. Guys booked her all over. Looks could not have been a consideration, but Lek is very intuitive and soft-handed. Plus she keeps her fresh country girl attitude quite intact, complete with a little girl's smile – and a cute little body: You could tell yourself that an innocent school girl was just giving you that tight ride. Her puberty acne added to the impression of an virginal teenager. First, in the massage shop she had told me she's 24 and I had no doubts. Later she hastened to correct that indeed she was 27, but that the massage shop forced her to say 24.
On some months Lek earned 100,000 baht, tax-free. By and by, her family paid the accident debts off, they got farm machines, a motorcycle for her young brother and a shiny new pickup car for the parents. Lek built a house for herself near her parents. She told her family she had a rich western boyfriend in Bangkok who was just too busy making money in Bangkok to visit mom and pop up in Buriram.
I met Lek when she had worked massage for a year. I was Single for a Week (broadband report to follow) and on the lookout for friendly relief massage, something I am shy to ask from the wife (also see my recent Cheating for my Marriage
I entered the reception area and ordered a Thai massage. I insisted on seeing the talent on tap personally, so they came from the back room and leaned against the reception area's wall. Now I am not hardened enough to inspect the choices in all seriousness. Instead, I quickly scanned the faces and chose the nicest smile. Looks were not a consideration when I politely pointed at Lek.
Up in the prison cell Lek and I hit it off immediately. Right from the start in that narrow shower box we laughed and talked and teased and sang, anything from girlish to darn naughty. What a fun gal.
Then onto the makeshift 'bed'. Now I had come to sit back, relax and let the friendly cabin crew do a swell hand job on me. I instructed Lek along that line including the information that I intended to pay the usual 500 baht HJ fee. Lek agreed verbally and with a smile, but immediately breached our contract by oiling and then jumping me full body. Now probably she wanted me into FS because that brings more money than a HJ, but I tell you she was simply horny (and probably she liked me, I'd like to think).
Quickly Lek and I morphed into one oily sweaty mess. I had not even brought my own condoms (for what), but the way Lek had me full-body-on I soon screamed for a rubber, even in Thai brothel quality, which Lek administered in professional perfection. I don't easily come in regular sex outside the marriage bed, and especially not from inside a Thai brothel condom, but that was no real challenge for my furious (and impressively knowledgeable) Lek.
Jeez, I needed relief from that 'relief'. So after the first sensation I forced Lek to give me a bit of a non-naughty Thai massage. She pouted she never learned that, but I insisted I had booked 'Thai massage' downstairs, hadn't I. So I got some nice caress that was indeed soothing after the heady body2body session (other 'massage' girls, asked to give you a normal massage, break your bones). Plus we continued our chatting and joking and got along real well.
What a scene: There lies the fat oily nude 50ish westerner on the 'bed' like a crash-landed water buffalo and an oxpecker bird, no, a petite nude Thai 'school girl' half his age and weight climbs on and around him, cuddling him and applying generous sprinklings of Johnson baby oil while both chat away, giggle and swap anecdotes like old friends.
In a way Lek scared me: She had long since done her job, no additional money was to earn, but now she wanted to drag me into another bonking bonanza. While I wanted just the opposite, lie back and let a gal do me, and surely only one shot per assignment.
Before we finally dressed I asked if I could book her to my 'Single Week apartment' in the mornings, when she was not on duty in the shop. This she confirmed. It would save me the price for the 'Thai massage' you pay downstairs and it would give a meaning to my free mornings in the 'Single Week apartment'. So we should exchange telephone numbers, I said. She agreed, but didn't ask for a number or produce hers.
I placed a generous tip next to her handbag. She looked at the money in surprise and asked: For me? So much? Are you sure about that?
She also told me with a meaningful voice that she would stop the naughty massage business within the next days. She said she’d start a school for regular Thai massage. Well, who cares.
What she didn't ask for, not even when we opened the door to go downstairs, was my phone number, even though we wanted to contact and meet outside the massage shop scheme. Now that's unusual restraint from the girl's side. I had to advance and beg for her number and give her my number (the number on my second hand, dedicated 'Single Week phone'). By the way my legend on that Single Week was that I am an unmarried teacher in town, so she thought I might become a repeat customer.
Lek stayed on my mind the following days, when I tried other massage girls and a gay club (broadband report coming up). I even felt a bit like cheating on her.
One night I was sitting alone in a pub, a little off the Sukh'n craze, and missed my wife and daughters. But they were on this major family wedding up- (or rather down-) country. We had talked before on the phone (on my regular phone) and they missed me too, they said everybody missed me. I needed someone to relax, a voice of reason. And what – I called Lek.
She seemed genuinely happy to hear me. On the phone, she claimed she remembered me. I told her I didn't need a massage, I just wanted to invite her for a Coke or so. 20 minutes later she was with me in the pub and found me immediately there, beaming at me, so she remembered my face indeed. Then she gave my beer a slightly disapproving look, I don't know what she thought about me.
– Why can you meet me in the pub now, I asked. You have to be on stand-by for costumers, don't you?
– But this year (2009) we don't get many customers like before. There are enough girls available. I can walk out for 20 minutes.
– Why did you never call me, I asked. You have my number, don't you?
– Because it's better to wait for the customer to call. Better for both of us.
A pro. And after 20 minutes of massage market talk she excuses herself. But we arrange that she will give me a massage the next morning – in my friend's apartment that I had taken over for a week. As that place is a little difficult to find we agree that I'd pick her up on a certain street corner, in front of the 7-Eleven.
Next morning, 20 minutes too early, she calls me from our meeting point, and I jump down. I had asked her to call me ten minutes before she reaches meeting point, but she only calls me when she'd already arrived. There she stands, talking to her mobile phone, looking the other way. When I am very close I hear her say in Thai: What, 5000? But no, I told you I already have an appointment. I cannot. Then she sees me and quickly ends her talk.
As we walk to my place I point to the cell phone in her hand and joke: Your boyfriend? No, she says, an old customer. He needed me now, but I said I already have an appointment. She doesn't know I heard her talking.
– Oh, an old customer? Will he pay good money?
– He promised me 5000 if I visit him instantly. He has to fly to Phuket a few hours later. He has restaurants in Bangkok and Phuket.
– What, 5000? You know I won't pay you so much. If you want to meet him and make good money, that's ok! Just go!
– No, no, no! I wanted to meet you! And we had our date already.
Upon entering the room, she shows me her cell phone again and says, I turn it off, ok? That happens on later meetings too: She kind of asks permission to turn off her mobile phone. Permission granted.
We have another very pleasing massage session. She's a very physical lady who reacts vigourously to the right touches. Again, I'd rather sit back, relax and enjoy a friendly cabin crew service, but at least her girls-ish, smooth body and her tremendous reactions are a reward for my own, half involuntary efforts on her. And of course, she makes very sure that I don't get short-changed. In all our encounters – from the first businesslike ones to the friends-like sessions later – she always takes care that I have a satisfying experience.
After a lengthy massage romp, another cool-off massage and relaxing talk on the bed she finally has to leave for her massage shop, two hours later than expected. She takes a last shower and when I offer her a hair-dryer she looks real happy. In my friend's cabinet I also had found a flatiron, so I produce this flatiron to her too:
– Maybe you need this one too, I ask?
She looks really surprised: No, thank you, but – you do the ironing yourself?
– No, my wi-, err, my maid does it.
– But a maid is expensive. I can iron for you, sure!
Earlier on the bed, when I asked her, she had told me she needed 20,000 baht per month at least: 8,500 she has to pay off for the car she bought for her parents; then her simple apartment is 3,000 per month; then there's her son, and so on.
– So if you stop naughty massage to be with a boyfriend, I ask her, he'll have to compensate you with at least 20,000 baht per month?
– Yes, about like that!
Then she thinks again:
– No, not 20,000 actually, of course I could go working.
– Work what?
– Well, cleaning lady, ironing, factory, sales girl. I did all that before. Maybe I could make 10,000 per month for myself.
I place a generous tip next to her handbag. She looks at the money in surprise and again asks: For me? So much? Are you sure about that? She also asks me if I would join her on a temple trip that night.
And yes, one shift later that day, after another only half ok "massage" around 9 p.m., I miss my Lek and call her that I would like to join her temple visit. She says it's near Huay Khwang.
– Ok, I say, we can go by underground.
– No, not possible, we need taxi.
– We have to go up Asoke, right? That's jammed around this time. Underground is the way to go.
– No, we need taxi.
We meet on Sukhumvit and board a taxi. At the Asoke junction everything is totally blocked, including soi Asoke heading north. The taxi driver says there's a traffic jam all the way up to Don Muang. He says we should change to the underground train right here.
This earns Lek a big grin from me and with a guilty face she gets out of the cab und walks down the stairs towards the tube.
In the underground she starts hectic phone talks and it transpires that some friends of hers will also come to the temple to "make merit".
The temple, as it turns out, is only steps away from the underground station. Around five phone calls later her friends trickle in. Three young non-descript, empty-eyed Thai ladies who barely look at me. I sit on a bank within the compound, my shoes wait outside, while they walk around praying, lighting up incense and offering lotus blossoms. Especially my Lek seems to be very serious about her Buddhist business.
They are done after about 30 minutes. I am very hungry now and what I would love is to go to a nice western restaurant just with Lek. But now we have the other boring girls here and I can't kick them out. So I ask all of them if they would like to go to a Thai restaurant. After another 30 minutes discussion they agree.
We go, again by underground, to a lively Thai-oriented pub in the Silom area and have quite good Thai food there. The three other ladies say about nothing and none has Lek's rather charming, lively, pro-active character. Only one, Ms Kip, is a bit entertaining. Even though I stress a few times that I will happily pick up the bill they don't order a lot.
Finally, after 1 a.m., Lek and I return to my apartment. I had told her that I wanted to sleep alone, but would love to enjoy a night cap with her on the couch. So at the 7-Eleven nearby we buy an ice tea for her and a cold one for me (my concession to her anti-alcoholism: I buy only one) and, after a long day, finally sink onto my friend's couch.
I must say that now I find Lek really nice and easy to be with. She understands that I will kick her out after one beer and that there is no more money to be made from me today. Still she comes up with me just to hang out. She doesn't try to turn on the TV. Instead, when we sit on the couch, she packs out my feet, rolls up my trousers and – while our talk slowly trickles along – starts to give me a foot massage! It might not be strictly competent, but I can confirm it's soothing indeed.
So while she slowly works my toes and thighs I ask her about the other ladies. There wasn't much chance to talk to them in the noisy Thai pub, and they weren't very communicative either.
Lek says they all worked massage. Yep, naughty massage. She said the other three had just worked a year or two in 'Arab country'. Her friend Ms Kip, though, now shuttles between Bangkok – where she entertains customers – and Singapore, where she turned one customer into a boyfriend.
So I was out with four hookers, how's that. Tell wifey.
– Ha, I joke, I didn't know they're all into massage. We could have gone to my apartment and start a nice little massage orgy!
Now Lek is seriously offended:
– No! I won't do this.
– But don't you do threesomes at the massage place, I ask?
– Yes, we do. I must, sometimes, if customers wants. But I don't like! I will not do with you!
– Why don't you like threesomes, I ask.
– I am shy. Shy for other girl to see me.
It's true. Lek bonked a hundred guys, but she doesn't want another girl to see her starkers. Later, Lek starts to learn real Thai massage. I urge her to learn oil massage too, but she won't:
– For oil massage, we have to practice topless. I don't want the other ladies to see me.
Anyway, whenever I mention I could meet other girls for intimate action, Lek sulks seriously. She doesn't get possessive like grabbing my hand on the street, but she sure believes to have exclusive rights over me now. So for my other massage visits I am now cheating on the wife and on Lek.
While Lek is still kneading my thighs and the beer getting warmer, I also ask her why exactly she went to the temple tonight. Lek:
– You know, we don't get many customers this year. I didn't have a customer for one week! My financial situation was rather dire. So I went to the temple and prayed for a customer. And I got a customer!
– Oh, that was me?
– Yes! You were the customer I prayed for!
She beams at me.
– And I promised I will return to the same temple again to say thank you when that customers finally arrives. So I went there again. And it was so nice that you were with me!
She's still softly working on my lower legs. But after half an hour of slow, caring, relaxing foot massage I start to yawn and Lek says I should go to bed now. So I bring her downstairs and wait with her on the street until she sits in a taxi. She doesn't ask to stay overnight even though later I learn that she had some bad experiences with night taxis and at one point had to call police from within a cab that wouldn't let her out.
I meet her two more times in the next two days, between other stints I can't give up. She seems to have switched to a regular massage school indeed. She is busy now from nine to five and available after that. Just fine for me: I can have a non-Lek 'massage' around noon, relax and eat after that and spend the evening with tiny, innocent-looking Lek who thrills me to the bones and there's nothing like her within the naughty massage business.
We have a lot of nice talks in between. She seems to see me as an older friend, a person to seek advice from. So she asks me if she should start her own therapeutic massage shop soon. And what I think of her naughty massage involvement.
– It's ok for me, I say, but I like it more if you stop it. It's better for your heart and for your body. Was the naughty massage job ok for you?
– Hm, hm. You know, I think-think-think. Not so good. Better stop.
– Yes, but how to make 20,000 per month now?
– I don't know too…
– You know you will not get so much from me, don't you?
– Yes, yes, yes!! You know, I can start working Thai massage right now. Next weekend, four of us massage students will work Thai massage on a big market in Samut Prakan. If lucky, I make 1000 baht per day there.
– That's nice. But before, you got 1000 in one hour, sometimes 5000.
– Yes. But I stopped already!
– But you did not change your phone number. I guess your customers still call you?
– Oh, they do! But I tell them I stopped working.
During our talks she practices her newest massage moves on me. Nice! But one time she sighs that she gets a lot of pressure from her parents to provide more money – they want to improve the house, buy new farming machines and what not. She looks really depressed, but hardened Stickman reader me, I sense a sob story script and just say:
– Now you talk like all the massage girls, they just need more money, buffalo's sick and all that. Money won't come from me, better stop with your sob stories.
She stops her sob story immediately – and looks even more depressed. I feel rather rude after that, she is my friend in a way, until today I don't like my reaction.
Now, when we make love, I don't pay her anything anymore. I only slip her taxi money, 100 or 200 now and then. I am very unsure about that. She doesn't mention money and I have no idea what she expects. She seems always happy to see me, rushes by quickly when I call her, even after she has learnt by experience that our sessions don't bring money. Finally, shortly before our final farewell, I give her another 2,000 and say, please use this for an oil massage training – or nail painting, if oil massage is too scary for you. She wais me and receives the money with a grateful smile. She had been worth 20,000 or 200,000 of course, I am just cheap.
One evening we're in the apartment when she says she has to return to her place for 20 minutes: A sister wants to borrow her laptop.
– You like to come too, she asks me.
Now that's a novel question. So far she refused to take me to her place, she was obviously shy. So we taxi to her flat in a very modest apartment building deep down a very long soi. I am quite surprised that her apartment has no real kitchen. No air-con. The room – yes, it's only one room – looks very clean, very orderly and even has some kind of style. It's more a child's room style though, with all the colorful lamps, colorful posters, colorful chairs, pillows and bedspread. The daughters would have liked the room.
And there's her sister and husband. Obviously simple, but decent people in their mid-thirties. Later I learn they both work in a factory in Samut Prakan. Not at all the Thais I am used to deal with. At first, they are very shy towards me. But soon they find out I:
– do speak Thai
– can be fed salted mango slices
– am happy to join their habit of swapping friendly insults
and they really warm up to me. Lek and her sister seem to have a bit of constant playful, friendly teasing and insulting each other. There is a lot of laughter and warm smiles that also makes it easy for me to join in to the chit-chat.
– Your sister is quite funny and charming, I say to Lek later.
– And you know, she replies, all my family is like that. We all like joking and funny talk. Lek smiles happily. You go up Buriram with me one time?
Maybe that's one reason why Lek jumped at me so enthusiastically when we first met in her massage shop's prison cell. I played the joking-teasing game with her right from the start and that made her very comfortable. She believed I was an easygoing fun-guy and that style of conversation suits her well.
I want to move to Pattaya for a few days to broaden my massage studies. To Lek I say I'll have to go to Naklua for a business conference. She believes I'll be back for her a week later. But actually, right after Pattaya I will pick up wife and daughters from the airport and there won't be any more Lek time. For our last evening, we return to the Thai restaurant in the Silom area. After dinner she points down the road and asks me:
– Is that Patpong down there?
She pronounces 'Patpong' like it's a very strange thing.
– Yes, that's Patpong. Many farung men like to go there. Many of your customers too. Did any customer take you there?
– No, I was never there!
– And Nana Plaza, and soi Cowboy, did you ever walk around there?
– No, mai koey pai!
She never went to any of those areas! So I ask her right there and she says yes, she would like to look around Patpong.
Her jaw drops one meter about all the craze there. All… those… ladies…, she goes. She hasn't seen anything like that. I ask her to enter a gogo bar; she is reluctant, but I drag her inside. She sees all the bikinis bouncing on stage and obviously really can't believe it, my innocent Lek. She'd love to leave fast, I can read from her face and she happily agrees to return to the apartment.
Next morning I take her to the bus station. Even if I give her 100 baht transportation money she will not take the much faster skytrain, but travel by slow bus. I tell her I call her when I am back from my Naklua conference. My plan is actually to send her a last goodbye SMS from Pattaya, saying I have to fly back to Paris on short notice, just before I end my Single Week and reunite with my family anyway.
So that morning at the bus station is our last face time.
Or so I think. But massage service wise, Pattaya turns out to be quite a dump, as you'll read in more detail in my upcoming broadband report. The Chonburi ladies are too mechanical, too young, too attituded, too un-Thai, just nothing compares to my gifted, charming, country girl from Buriram. So I phone up Lek and direct her to Pattaya for overnight. I tell her I rented a one-night-room near Beach Road for us, as I could not bring her into the Naklua convention hotel. To get her to Pattaya fast after her massage school, I ask her to find a taxi and I will pay as much as 1200 baht for that.
She sounds most happy. She tries to convince me she could take the bus, but I insist on taxi. She announces to be in Pattaya around 5 p.m. Around 4 p.m. I visit a travel agency to book a flight to Isaan for the weekend (I have an old lady friend up there). I just sit on the baht bus to another travel shop when she calls me that she is waiting on Beach Road for me. 1 hour early! Again, I had asked her to call me ten minutes before she reaches meeting point, but she only calls me when she'd already arrived. I quickly hop off the baht bus and take a motorcycle taxi straight to our meeting point.
There she stands on beach road, beaming! My innocent school girl with a little shoulder bag. Immediately I get a hard-on. I take her bag and she says:
– Whoa, many many ladies here!
– Yes. You didn't know?
– No, I had no idea!
– But have you never been to Pattaya?
– Well, one time, but only in the temple. That was not on the beach. I don't know where. We just went to pray and back to Bangkok. It's a very important temple, my friend said.
She even has a first Beach Road anecdote:
– You know, when I stood here for two minutes only, a farung asked me 'short-time how much'. Oh my god, is Pattaya like that?
Then there's an awkward moment at the reception. I want to whisk Lek through to my room, but the receptionist calls us back and collects Lek's ID.
– I just take your lady's ID, informs the female receptionist, it's better for you. As if Lek and I were opponents.
I feel very bad about that but have no idea what to say. Lek doesn't comment either, but I guess she knows the procedure from Bangkok.
In the room, I pour her a cold drink and hand her 1200 baht for the taxi.
– No, she says, 800 is enough. I convinced a friend to drive me with her car, and she wanted 800.
– Including tollway?
– Including tollway. Ok, I take shower, she says.
But when she gets from her chair up I can't stop myself. I tear Lek to the floor and her clothes off. After all the disappointing Pattaya girls, I am most happy to rape my trusted country girl. And by now I know how to turn her on. I know she wants to shower first, but I don't care and I know how to make her forget "ab nam" (shower). Still, while we're at it on the carpet, near the bathroom door, every two minutes or so she'd gasp
– not good!!
and point a finger into the air. I'd ignore her and work on her and she'd go
– shower first!!
and point into the air again.
Poor Lek: No 'shower first' for her. When we finally make it to the bathroom together, it's a 'shower after'.
For a beach walk, she chooses Pattaya Beach Road over the more quiet Jomtien beach. She says she wants to see all the ladies and she's truly impressed. She likes to hold at least a finger or two of me there, just to mark her territory I guess.
She sees a very fashionable ice cream parlor with an Italian name. I tell her that Italy is the home of ice cream and they are supposed to have the best. Would she like to try?
She is quite confused by the huge selection, but finally each of us holds a cone with two scoops. My ice cream tastes rather disappointing.
– How's yours, I ask.
– Hmm, well…
– You know, I go, mine is not so wonderful.
– Mine isn't wonderful either. Swenson's much better. <Dana will verify this too – Stick>
So much for Pattaya's homemade Italian ice cream.
We enter a nice European style restaurant and order pasta, lasagne and salad. She can eat all of it, even though she looks at the food more like a scientist, not like she really enjoys it. I guess she'd prefer some smelly Isaan stuff.
The place is a bit upmarket and now Lek's dress looks way too cheap. Her clothes are not sexy nor dirty or torn. She is just dressed like a poor, tasteless school girl, with a cheap-looking striped t-shirt of a very dubious material, cheap looking jeans, and cheap, baby-ish flat shoes, the kind my younger daughter puts onto her dolls because it looks cute-ish. I am not comfortable with Lek's look in this restaurant.
– Where did you buy your dress, I ask while working on the lasagne, MBK or Chatuchak?
– No, there are fashion stalls on Ramkhamhaeng road, they are cheaper! I go there. Have you been there? I can show you the best places.
– Ah, thank you. Well, let's see.
We retreat to the room for an entertaining while and around midnight I ask if she would like another walk.
– But where can we go? It's midnight.
– Well, if you like, we go to Walking Street. It's a little like Patpong. You remember Patpong, right?
– Oh yes!!!
– Well, it's a little like that, maybe more crazy.
And she wants to take a look. Again, her jaw drops a meter: All those crazy farangs, the kind she never encountered in her massage work. All those crazy, screaming girlies.
– They have some special gogo bars here, I lecture. If you want we go there for one drink.
As we are just in the vicinity, we go to What's Up, if I remember the name correctly. The place has many totally nude girls. Some splash in a shower which looks almost like an in-house waterfall. Other naked girls do gymnastics so that you can look all the way up into their uterus. There's also a feisty, older, blond female customer who packs out one enormous breast and gets fondled and licked by three tiny nude Thai girls. All this under hammering music.
Lek sits there, frozen. She holds her Coke for ten minutes, not taking one sip.
– We go, I ask?
Outside, Lek is still shocked:
– How. Can. Thai. Girls. Behave. Like. That?
– Well, I guess they get good money. And tips from the punters. You see, they stick the 100 baht notes right onto their soaped-up breasts. You couldn't work there?
– Oh, no! No! No! I'd die after one minute. I guess these girls there get a lot of alcohol or ya-baa; otherwise they can't perform naughty like that.
She is so upset that I suggest:
– Ok, let's get out of here and to a real Thai pub with Thai food and Thai music, just to return to Thailand, ok?
– Yes, please, she sighs, take me back to Thailand!
At that moment we stand next to an open-air beer bar. A western customer puts his trousers down and poses in his slip for ten raving beer girls. The tattooed, scantily clad, ordinary looking Thai beer girls scream madly at him, applauding, laughing, making obscene gestures.
– Now, these beer girls are Thai too, I comment to Lek. Aren't these girls Thais too?
– Yes, they are Thais too, she admits.
– So that's Thailand too, right?
– Lek: (silence)
Anyway, we do get out of the mayhem and dock at a pub for Thais with some decent finger food and even a Thai style live band. Lek relaxes visibly.
Next morning at 6 a.m. I shove her into a taxi to Bangkok. It's our last face time. I tell her I will now go back to my convention in Naklua. Of course I just go back to bed and try to get a bit more sleep before breakfast. When her first SMS trickles in, sent from the taxi:
– Hi dear, are you ok? Thank you very much for the nice holiday! I hope to see again. [What, Pattaya or me?] Wish you have a nice day. Take care of yourself. Love! [No! No! No!] Kiss!
So that was Lek. Good luck to you. Over breakfast I muse she could be a good maid back at the family home. She seems to be clean, decent and knowledgeable in household chores. The daughters would like her too – they might take her fashion shopping at Siam Square first. Lek as a maid in my family? Well, let's keep it a nice daydream. I had lied to Lek about my family situation and I would have to lie to the wife about Lek's role. No, our time is over.
I have another boring local "massage", and when I check the cell phone after that, there's Lek's next text:
– Allo, comment sa va, tu? Are you sleepy? Today in school I was very tired, I had no power. And you? But every thing very nice I can see many thing! Thanks again! Good night au revoir khaa. Kiss!
First I worry by "I can see many thing" she means a common future for her and me. But I guess she only refers to her varied Pattaya impressions. And another SMS:
– Bon jour, comment sa va, tu? Today u still in Naker? [Meaning Naklua, haha.] Have a nice day. Kiss!
Yes, she suddenly speaks a bit of French. I come from Geneva in French-speaking Switzerland, and as my accent gives me away anyway, I lie in my Single Week that I am a Frenchmen from Paris. And that made Lek very happy: Lek has a Thai friend who married a Parisian, lives in Paris and promised to find a frog husband for Lek. So, even when we met, Lek already owned a Thai-French dictionary and spoke a few words. I told her she'd need spoken input and she should look for a language DVD. On our next meeting she proudly showed me a pirate language DVD, French for Thais. And on every meeting she produced a few new words with quite a decent pronunciation, the 'r' and the nasals came through ok.
I already miss her. But later that day in boring Pattaya I text her that I have some job problems and will fly back to Paris on the weekend. I write that I don't know when I'll return to Bangkok.
Her text reply comes fast:
– I hope u don't want work in Paris. You not come back? Yes but u can choose up to you. Good luck and bon voyage! Am I still ur friend? I hope I not lose u.Kiss!
I had always told her that we're not partners, just 'friends', to control her expectations. She had never seemed so happy with my definition, but now in her last text message at least she wants to keep up her 'friend' status.
And then, I miss her too much. I don't want to say adieu by SMS like that. So I ask her on the phone if she would like to meet me at the airport before I 'fly to Paris' (as you know, actually I fly to Isaan). Of course she wants! I tell her I'll refund her 600 baht for a taxi return trip to the airport.
And there she stands, Suvarnabhumi airport, terminal 2, departure hall, entrance 2, just like agreed. I know she's reliable and smart enough to find her way around there. Oh, ok, in her previous life as a naughty masseuse she occasionally went to the airport to meet or see off customers.
She looks seriously sad about my 'trip to France'.
– Maybe you stay there long time, she frowns. She never mentions, though, that I might have a lady there.
– But you want to come to France too, right, I ask her. Your Thai friend in Paris wants to find a French husband for you, right? Haha, I tease her, if you marry a French guy we can still secretly meet sometimes and re-live our great times from Bangkok and Pattaya!
– NO, CANNOT!
Lek makes it very clear that she wouldn't cheat on a French husband, if she had one. Shey says we could meet for talk only, just maybe, in case her prospective husband agreed. By the way, she never seriously asks me for a marriage. I had told her early on that I recently had had a divorce from hell and was not ready to re-marry. I had also told her that I was just too old for her. As expected, she contradicted that and hinted ever so slightly that she, if asked, was not adverse to a more serious connection with me. And funny, actually, during our times together I never felt a ridiculous age gap and always thought we connected nicely. I never saw as Lek a 'girlie', or 'chick'. Her farm fresh innocence is one side, but on the other hand she's a mother, a hard worker and obviously the main money maker for a three generation family, so that gives her some kind of 'gravity' and 'responsibility' I grew to enjoy.
As promised, I slip her 600 baht for the return taxi trip to the airport. No, she says, 300 is enough. She slips me 300 baht back:
– I came by bus. They have this airport express, it's 150 one-way.
I ask her to wait on a bench and I check in for a domestic flight. As expected, Lek doesn't notice that I should be at the counters for international flights elsewhere down the hall. She also doesn't comment on my small luggage.
Now this must be our last face time, finally. I'll hop to Isaan just overnight to refresh the friendship with a great lady up there. Around 24 hours later I'll be back in Bangkok and welcome wife and daughters back upon their arrival at, of course, Suvarnabhumi again.
Lek though doesn't know this schedule. She doesn't suspect any lie.
– How long you fly to Paris, she inquires.
– Whoa, around 12 hours, so boring. I'll call you from Paris, I lie.
She looks composed, as if she could barely withhold tears, and thankfully she doesn't cry. She also doesn't touch me except for a bit of holding hands, fingers actually, anything more is too much in a public space for a decent Isaan lady, thanks again. I send her away before I walk to the domestic gates exit, just to cut the thing off here and now. Also I don't want her looks to follow me and probably realize I shouldn't walk through the door for domestic flights. Apart from that I don't want her looks to follow me anyway.
So good luck Lek. Waiting at the gate, I remember that now I should turn off my Single Week phone cell phone, to make my overseas trip credible. If she calls my number and just gets a regular ring tone she knows that I'm still in Thailand. That's not a real problem for me, she can't track me down anyway, and there is no way whatsoever to continue our relationship. But I want to give her a face-saving, credible separation. Yes, I want her to keep me in good memory.
As the aircraft taxis towards the runway, I muse that some of Lek's stories don't make full sense. All that wealth she assembled in just one year of naughty massage? All her financial burdens, but then dropping that lucrative massage biz? Never seen Patpong or Nana Plaza? Maybe she lied? I don't feel so, but then, who cares.
Is she different, I ask myself as we ascend to 10,000 feet cruising altitude. I'd like to think she is. And if not? Again, who cares.
I am looking forward to meet my old Isaan lady friend soon. I am looking forward to meeting wife and daughters right after that. Great times ahead.
Nicely put together. What I would really like to read would be her thoughts on the relationship with you too, from her perspective and with whatever secrets she was keeping from you too!