Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 265
A Caravan Production: The Dogs Bark But The Caravan Moves On.
Greetings Stickman fans and Dana fans. Today we offer two essayettes for your reading pleasure. Enjoy.
PEOPLE ASK ME
People ask me. They say:
"Where do you get your ideas for your stories Dana?"
or they say:
"How do you find the time for all that writing Dana?"
These are the questions of non-writers. People always ask questions about what is on their mind. If a Thai lady says:
"Do you have any condoms?" — you can pretty well guess what is on her mind. If a Thai child says:
"Farang, why do you wear socks?" — it is pretty simple to guess what is on his/her mind. The question is the answer.
Writers ask different questions of other writers. Not 'Where do you get your ideas?' or 'How do you find the time?' A writer might ask another writer something like:
"How do you handle all the beginnings for stories you never seem to get to? You know, the one or two or ten great sentences that just need another 800-3000 words. How do you keep these fish swimming around in your head without going crazy?
I'll give you two examples of story starts I have a feeling that I am never going to get to and finish. You can have them–just add another 1000-2400 words.
"Sometimes neutrinos have mass and sometimes neutrinos do not have mass. A mystery. When I opened my front door it bumped into a dead Thai woman. A mystery. One Thailand. One farang. Two mysteries."
Now you finish it. I figure in this case about 2400 words will do.
"Nom and I go to visit her parents in Essan. She tells me their names are Somchai and Fim. When we get to the village she seems unsure of which house she grew up in. Two elderly people wave at us from a porch. Nom says they are her parents and their names are Gorm and Loom.
What happened to Somchai and Fim? I spend three days smiling like a baboon with gas. On the bus back to Bangkok I turn to Nom and I say:"
Now you finish the story. You probably need another 1000 words. This set up should resolve itself quickly. And thanks for taking two swimming fish out of my head. They were driving me crazy.
But that is not really what I want to talk about today. What I want to talk about today is:
THE FIX IS IN LAND
The story The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway was a reworking of a story by Zane Grey. Hemingway received the Pulitzer prize. Zane Grey received nothing. Zane Grey never complained. Zane Grey had class. He invited Hemingway on a fishing trip. Hemingway refused the gift of friendship.
Both Hemingway and Grey were B class writers lucky enough to make a living as writers and attract a lot of attention to themselves. One had more class than the other. But the fix was in. Hemingway got the historical nod.
Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams were both great hitters in baseball. If you equalized the ball parks they played in Joe DiMaggio was a greater hitter than Ted Williams. The baseball writers knew it, the players knew it, and the owners knew it. Joe DiMaggio knew it, and Ted Williams knew it. But the fix was in. Williams got the historical nod and didn't have enough class to say:
"No, it's not me."
Be careful when the fix is in. There is nothing you can do about it. Ask the Jews about this. Once you are socially marked for good or for ill there is nothing you can do about it. Especially if you are a foreigner. Foreign face? Foreign voice? Foreign clothes? Foreign way of thinking? Always know where your passport is–you never know when it will be time to leave. Don't think of Thailand as the Land of Smiles. Think of Thailand as The Fix Is In Land. Opinions of your own? Interested in human dignity? Believe we are really all equal under the skin? Anxious to be accepted as a part of the family of man? Open to new ideas? All worthy dreams and good intentions. All possibilities–unless, the fix is in.
I had a friend from the States visiting me in Pattaya. So I took him on the obligatory walk down Walking Street one night. Every time I saw a Thai policeman or a volunteer policeman I would turn my back, or go into a store, or dodge up a soi. My friend made fun of me. Said I was needlessly paranoid. No. I just wanted to be invisible. Who knows–maybe I had been given the foreigner's historical nod and the fix was in. All they had to do was find me. Sound silly? I repeat, who knows? We have many prisoners in the United States that are innocent. It is reasonable to assume that the same thing happens in Thailand. Why tempt fate?
Years ago I was standing around with the expats that gather every morning outside of the Starbucks on Beach Road in Pattaya. Pattaya Gary was there, the retired Canadian airline pilot was there, Gary's rich American friend was there, etc. A Thai beggar woman came by and was pestering and pestering and pestering for money. She had clearly used up all of her social charity chips and anyone would have been in their rights to tell her to go away. No one did. None of these alpha male foreigners told her to buzz off. Made them look like wimps. Took me a while to figure it out. They just wanted to be invisible. Who knows how karma works? Maybe one of them was already marked by history and the fix was in. All Thailand had to do was find that person. Why take a chance?
I no longer enthuse about Thailand in the States. It is a private pleasure and when I am in the Kingdom it is a private fear. I am scared all the time in the Kingdom. I don't respect people who are not afraid in the Kingdom. I regard this state of fear as a marker of intelligence. I know where I am. I am in The Fix Is In Land. And it is only a matter of time. Landing at Bhumi and walking down the long hall to Immigration I am so happy my feet barely touch the floor. But every coin has two sides. Leaving Thailand on the plane I can feel a great whoosh as the fear washes out of me. I have beat the odds and I have beat the historical nod again. The fix is in. It is always in. But I managed to avoid the tap on the shoulder. This time.
Talking about feeling fear while in Thailand is something I think a number of long-term expats can relate to. Thailand is supposed to be paradise, supposed to be relaxing and the national saying is "mai pen rai". But for sure, back in my native New Zealand, I genuinely feel no fear and no anxiety. I feel totally relaxed and at ease. In Thailand however, it's there…only a little, mind you, but it is present.