Stickman Readers' Submissions October 23rd, 2010

The Mystery of Pan’s Attraction

I write this as I sit on my flight back home. Every time I leave Australia, returning home seems more difficult, not least of all because Australian immigration are often gratuitously abrasive and unpleasant.

This is going to be a submission about me, and a recent personal experience that I don't care to relate to anyone close to me, so it falls to my fellow readers of Stickman's site. I hope it doesn't turn out too disjointed or difficult to read, as I'm accustomed to writing technical reports, not storytelling.

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To introduce myself, I am 29 years old, Australian born and tertiary educated (engineering). I have a reasonably secure (although private sector) job. My work is analytical / numerical in nature and takes place in a typical office environment. I don't mind my work or colleagues, but increasingly I find the workplace environment and politics grates on me. I don't like the corporate doublespeak, grotesque euphemisms and pointless memos.

I travel frequently, although rarely for work. My compulsion to always be around unfamiliar people and places accounts for the bulk of my disposable income.

This most recent trip consisted of a few days in Japan, a week or so in Taiwan, and a few days in Pattaya on my way home. I've been to Pattaya once before as part of a previous trip a couple of years ago, specifically to sample the nightlife, and I enjoyed the place for what it was at the time.

My previous trip I had spent most of my time in gogo bars. Yesterday I decided I felt like the slower pace of interaction in a beer bar, so I set out walking early in the evening, subtly scanning for a girl I liked the look of. I spotted one from a distance, but it was only after I sat myself down in front of her and bought us both a drink, that something happened to me that has never happened before in Thailand, and indeed has only struck me only once or twice before in my entire life. I was instantly and completely smitten.

During the drinks and chit chat and games of connect 4 and jenga, I had to force myself not to constantly stare at Pan's face, as was my natural instinct. Much of the time I was trying to figure out what it was about her that I found so appealing, but with no success. She wasn't especially pretty in a conventional sense, but to me, she was easily the most attractive woman I've seen in Pattaya to date.

Pan stated that she'd only started working at the bar two weeks ago. Judging by her English and her connect 4 ability this seemed about right. For the first time ever, I deeply regretted not having more knowledge of the Thai language than the numbering system and a few useful words and phrases I'd soaked up over time. It got quite late and I paid her barfine and the chemistry between us seemed comfortable and right. She left early as her child was staying with her this week. When she walked out of the room, I felt hollow inside. I closed my eyes and pictured her face, and it suddenly became clear to me what it was I had seen in her…

A few of years ago I hit the bottom of a severe depression. I'd been in the cloud of it for a long time before I realised I had a problem. Eventually I sabotaged a serious relationship with a good woman, my work and physical health began to suffer and I sought professional help. I wish I had done so sooner. I could write a whole submission on this subject alone, but it's not relevant here.

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When I did finally surrender my pride and walk into a doctor's office I was promptly referred to a psychologist. Over the next six months or so, the psychologist taught me the skills I needed to cope with my condition and gradually rebuild my life from the bottom up to function properly again. Without this help, I have little doubt my life would be a train wreck today, and I'd still be living down there in my own personal hell. Needless to say, I felt, and still feel, a great fondness and debt of gratitude for this person who, in a not so indirect way, saved my life.

…..Pan, although she is Thai, is the spitting image of my psychologist.

I contacted Pan this morning and asked if she'd meet me for a coffee today before my flight.

She has the same face shape and features.

She has the same quick half-smile, and her lips move over her teeth in exactly the same way.

She tilts her head the same way when inquisitive, and her hair falls in front of her face the same way when she laughs.

Looking at her again in the light of day, the resemblance was uncanny, almost spooky. What's even more remarkable to me is the fact that the subconscious connection was able to evoke such a strong emotional reaction from me, and so suddenly.

Of course, I know this is a mere coincidence, but in spite of myself, my logical judgement, and the many barriers between us, I remain strongly attracted to Pan. I told her I would try and get back to Thailand soon for at least short visit, and I meant what I said.

I want to spend a few days with her away from the bar and just see if my feelings are totally misplaced or not. Beyond that I don't dare to speculate.

All I know for sure is that I haven't felt this hungry for another person's company in a long time.

Stickman's thoughts:

I don't want to burst your bubble, but there is a real likelihood that Pan will be rather different if you meet her again. Time in the bars really does change these girls, and seldom for the better. The sweetness is the the first thing to go and then it can be all downhill!

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