Stickman Readers' Submissions January 27th, 2011

Those Subservient Thai Women

Kurt was an old friend, and a special one at that. We have the kind of friendship that is cemented with sharing profound life experiences that deeply molded one's character and life. We served together in the Vietnam war. I was an NCO with a small squad of 5 to 7 men and he was my number 2. Kurt was my senior by 2 years but I had done a previous tour and made rank because I had the experience. Sometimes I thought he could read my mind as he seemed to know my orders as I thought them and was able to anticipate what I was going to say. Together, we did things and saw things that no one should ever have to do and see. We also partied very hard together like US Marines tend to do. Now don't think this is some funky “Delta Force” story. We were just “grunts” doing what we were told for the most part. Most of the roughly 3 years (3 tours) I spent in country were boring beyond belief coupled with periods of shear terror that leave you shaking and fearful that your pounding heart would burst your chest. I was 20 years old and he 22. My 13 months was up before Kurt's so I went Stateside while he remained in Vietnam. We lost touch although I made attempts to locate him, I was not successful.

In the Spring of 2000 I ran into him unexpectedly. He had business interests in a small town that was less than 1 hour from my Midwestern city and had relocated there. I had not seen him for 32 years and I just cannot describe how good it was to see him once again. Neither of us wanted to talk about old times as those are best just left alone. With both of us now in our fifties we had a lot of catching up to do. I found Kurt's story a lot more interesting than mine. When he left, about 3 months after me, he was due for a discharge in the US after he came back Stateside. Well, Kurt wasn't all that interested in the formalities of a Stateside discharge and instead he went to Thailand. Those days it was easy to get whatever you wanted, a favor here, a bribe there got him a seat on an air force plane bound to U-Tapao where the Thais let us use their air base. From there he made his way to Isaan where he met and married a Thai gal. He was actually AWOL or a deserter but frankly I don't think anyone gave much thought to it as he was very short anyway.

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Kurt's wife was absolutely lovely. She had to be close to our age but looked so much younger. They had 3 grown children and 2 had completed university. We were together at a particular low spot in my life, I believe early 2008, when I confided in them. I had bought a house in 2005, a bargain that needed a good remodel. I had gutted the kitchen and built new cabinets, completely redid the living room, dining room, and garage then stopped short of redoing the bedrooms and bathroom. In 2008 when I had completed this work I realized that I was lonely. I had been divorced well over a decade and had lived alone without issues. The occasional girlfriend and many one nighters had taken the place of a wife. I think it just hit me that I had put all this work into this house and had no one to share it with or something like that. They were kind and understanding offering to come visit me more often but that wasn't the issue as I had a host of friends that would pop in regularly without even calling me first. During the conversation with Kurt and his wife, Ann I had an epiphany. My house needed a woman's touch. That brilliant thought (tongue in cheek) led me to another, it was me that needed a woman's touch.

After 2 failed marriages I swore that I would never marry again. The second ex was the absolutely the worst. At times it seemed like she had a major project underway to make my life hell. I was never going to get married again, period. When Ann suggested a Thai girlfriend to me she had my attention. It wasn't so much that I had never thought about it because I had, but rather the detail she provided about how Thai women desired men like me. I had been to Thailand many times but always to meet bar girls and they were the only Thai women I knew, except her. I had thought many times about how Kurt was so lucky to have a great wife. She offered to play matchmaker for me and I had every intention to let her do it.

For some reason or another I ended up meeting someone online. We chatted on MSN Messenger for some time and after a few months I made the decision to travel to Thailand to see her. Although the wife I have now is another story that has been posted. At this time I was working in the IT department of a large regional hospital. This hospital was very progressive in implementing computer solutions throughout its operations. Hence, I was busy and with much difficulty I managed to get 3 consecutive weeks off. In well over 10 years I had never taken more than a week off and certainly worked more than my share of overtime, weekends and holidays. Our work group numbered about a dozen men, with 1 women that did primarily purchasing, within an IT division that employed well over 100. Our gal was really like one of the guys. No one ever need be concerned about what was said or done as we were confident that she wouldn't trash us for our digressions. In fact we told her that she was a man in a woman's body and she always had a witty retort. I like her and even though I am retired now we still keep in touch.

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With a dozen people that work very close together for a long time it was not uncommon to share details of vacation plans as well as other titbits of your personal life. Unofficial office protocol was to tell Jo what you were doing and word travelled faster than email throughout the entire IT division. So after I convinced my boss that I really deserved the three weeks, after all I had accumulated about 3 months of paid vacation time, I went to Jo's office to tell her about my trip and what I intended to do. We had quite a discussion about it. She was curious about the object of my trip and we discussed it at some length. Then came THE question and the subject of this article, and mind you Jo usually says what's on her mind. She asked me “Why do you want a subservient Thai woman”. So there you have it, a candid view of at least one American woman about Thai / Farang couples. From time to time I have received the evil eye from Western women when walking on the streets of Bangkok with my bar girl for the evening but never received a real candid remark of any sort. I have read on these pages that many men have been called a pervert, sneered at and likely much worse by Western women. What are they really thinking though? From what I gather, much of the time it is simple name calling and not a clue about the thought behind it. Well now here you have it, an honest peek into the mind of an American woman. What surprised me was my own answer.

I asked her to suppose we were a couple and I was watching a football game and said to you “Honey get me a beer”, what would you say? Predictably she responded “I would tell you to get your own fucking beer”. I told her that what she said was quite common and understood, that Americans had roles and a culture that defined these interactions. I asked her to think outside the box for a moment and think as if you were a Thai woman. She replied pensively OK. You were raised from birth observing your mother, aunts, and neighbors interact with their husbands, waiting on them and making sure they have their needs met. You are raised to understand that taking care or your man is part of what defines you as a woman. What you call subservient is rather a manifestation of Thai culture. The Thai woman is simply fulfilling what is part of her belief system. There are expectations of the man involved too as they are expected to be devoted to them as well as their family's. Thai women have their own strengths that may be different than Western women. I remarked that if you defined what every country and their respective cultures should be by what Americans believe then you are very narrow minded and culturally inept by your own limited understanding. She had to agree and I won with this point.

My wife is so traditionally Thai in our home. Our coffee pot is about 10 feet from my desk. She checks my cup to see if I need a refill but if I get up to fill my cup on my own she will rush to take the cup from my hand and fill it herself while I am standing in front of the coffee pot! If my cell phone rings in another room she will race me to get it first so she can hand it to me. During the day she will inquire “are you hungry”? This will be repeated a few times and if I respond no she will say “when you are hungry you tell me”. Prior to marriage I have watched bar girls neatly fold and arrange my clothes after I paid. One time a bar girl neatly pressed several of my shirts that she had hand washed the night before. These were not actions that were calculated to increase what I might tip but rather just doing what Thai women do.

This is not an attempt to bash Western women. I think they are simply a product of their culture. I know many American women that I like and respect as well as couples that have good relationships. What I do believe is that they attempt to look at Thai women in terms of their own understanding about how things between couples should be, according to their culture, rather than take time to understand the other. Americans have a propensity to believe that everyone should have a culture like ours, but that is improving. I wonder what a traditional Thai women would think about when observing how the spoiled American wife treats her husband?

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There is something very nice about the things Thai women do, many of which can make you feel like a man. Some Western women on the other hand can make you feel like something rather different. With all this said, sometimes Thai women can go a little bit far with silly little things that really are unnecessary. I know some guys like the idea, for example, of a Thai woman putting toothpaste on their toothbrush. Why on earth would you want someone to do that for you? Seems a little OTT to me.

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