Time to Get a Grip? Part 1
The sweat was pouring off my head only minutes after I’d wiped it with an ice cold towel. The heat of Bangkok was really beginning to tell as I wandered aimlessly around the bars, restaurants and massage parlours at the lower end of Sukhumvit.
Having survived the cries of “Come here, handsome man” and “You want massage, sir?” from the Soi 4 beer bars and massage parlours, I’d decided to cross the bridge and take a quick look at the delights of the
odd numbered sois before heading home.
Feeling slightly self-conscious as I ambled along with my jeans and T-shirt clinging to my sticky body, I kept my jet-black shades on to protect my eyes from the stares of the farangs, the Arabs and the Thai service providers, who all seemed to belong in this chaotic den of hedonism. They all had a purpose for being there, whereas I had none; or so I liked to believe. “Maybe I’ll just grab a coffee” I thought to myself.
I strode into Soi 7/1, not knowing why or where I was heading. “You want massage?” asked an attractive young lady, clad in micro-shorts and a bright orange T-shirt. Tired of saying “Mai ao, khrap” I just proffered a smile and headed deeper into the soi. The beer bars were lively but of no interest to me. I speak Thai quite well, with a good accent (so I’m told) but a fairly limited vocabulary, enough only for day-to-day stuff. Politics, religion and science are out of range for now. I lived here for 3 years back in the early-to-mid nineties and enjoy speaking Thai whenever I come back for a holiday. However, the looks on the faces of the girls in the bars suggested they would rather be elsewhere, so this did not look like the place to practise, at least not today.
So if the buzzing beer bars were of no interest, what the hell was I doing here? Well, here goes.
I have been married to a Thai for nearly 20 years and have two teenage kids who were both born in Bangkok. I met my wife while working as an English teacher at one of Bangkok’s most famous but probably least impressive language schools. In fact, it was a real cowboy institute but it was my first full-time teaching job after getting a degree in Linguistics and the well-known CELTA qualification. Two more years working at a university were all I could handle before facing financial meltdown so we left Thailand in the mid-nineties, and it’s been pulling me back ever since. My wife, in case you’re wondering, was a student at the time and had never been near a bar. At least I managed to avoid that minefield, even if a few other missiles have struck me along the way.
The main reason for staying away, for me at least, is financial. I have a good job in one of the more liberal countries in the Middle East working at a government university. It pays well: a basic salary of over 200,000 baht (US$7200) tax free per month, plus an enormous rent-free house near the sea, free international schooling for the kids, and 200,000 baht flight money every summer. I’ve not saved much but have been able to complete my Master’s degree in TESOL and have almost completed my PhD while getting the kids most of the way through school. Although my work is challenging, I enjoy it and it provides my family with a great lifestyle we probably couldn’t find anywhere else. Hopefully my CV will stand me in good stead for a successful career, as I’m in my early forties and still want to get somewhere, wherever that may be.
Sounds ok, right? Sounds like I’m reasonably switched on, right, apart from the savings plan? Well, as many of you readers will know, where Thailand and Thais are concerned, things are not always as they seem.
I found out recently that my wife, who is also around 40, had been having an affair. I’d suspected this for some time and have been through quite a hard time. Then, a week ago, she confessed to everything. It wasn’t a surprise but in a way it was a relief. Now I could stop wondering and start acting. We have agreed to separate, but need to work out the technicalities as far as the kids are concerned. She is a good lady but we have grown apart and at this stage in our lives we want different things. I want a family life and to continue my career in education; she wants to eke out a career in business.
With this banging around inside my head, I hit the end of Soi 7/1. I cast a glance right and saw nothing of interest so I did an about-turn and headed back out the soi. Just as I was reaching the end, another young lady, also in bright orange and from the same massage parlour, smiled and asked me if I needed a massage. Did I? No. I said yes, though. Wow! What a striking figure she cut, with her long hair that could turn a man’s knees to jelly, and her legs that, with the help of a pair of high heeled mini-boots, appeared to be at least the length of the soi itself. If I was hot before, I was melting now, but it had nothing to do with the heat of Bangkok.
“What would you like?” she asked. Her accent was pretty good but her smile was better.
“How much for an oil massage?”
“400 baht for one hour” she replied, as my will began to break. Shit the bed! This is Thailand! I’m up for it.
“Do you have an air-con room?” I asked feebly. As if they wouldn’t? Still, it was either my last chance to escape, or more likely, my easiest way to say yes without sounding as keen as I felt.
“Of course we have”.
So, off we went. We entered the lift and headed up to the sixth floor. My accomplice in crime put the key in the lock and opened the door.
“Hmm, I think there’s someone here already” she said, as she melted me with a smile of pure, undiluted, defence-crushing power. “Let’s go down to the second floor”.
We entered the room on the second floor. The details of what happened thereafter are irrelevant to a point, but I spent two of the most pleasurable hours of my life inside. I came out grinning like someone who had scored the winning goal in the World Cup Final. Why? What did it all mean? Everything or nothing?
“Don’t you want to ask me for my number?” she asked, as we approached the stairway and I slipped her the monetary side of the transaction?
“Can I have it?” I replied, like the complete noob that I was and am.
As we arrived downstairs and into the packed soi, we exchanged numbers. She gave me both of hers and melted me again with one of her killer smiles. That was it then, so I thought. Not quite. While taking the underground back to my in-law's, I found myself texting this creature of beauty.
“Khorp khun maak maak. Cheers for a great time.”
That was the first of many texts sent yesterday and today. Tomorrow is Saturday and she is taking a day off so that we can visit her family together in Ayutthaya. I will spend the night her in her family home. What’s going on? I don’t know but I can’t wait to find out.
I’ve no idea what the next part of this story will bring but, if Stick permits, I’ll be back soon..
A very nice start… Get part 2 to us!