Ousted Over My Affair
There I was, sitting at the table with 11 pairs of eyes all looking at me, including my wife’s, all waiting for my answer to the direct question from my so called mate Bobby who sat there with that cheeky grin which is his trademark all over his face. The direct question to me was, “You are in love with her, aren’t you”.
There was a silence in the air now at our table.
I could hear the background sounds of other people talking at their tables, the scrape of utensils on plates, could see the waiters in their white jackets moving slowly and quietly between the tables. I looked up and could see the overhead fans moving, shifting the humid air of the night around our outside table where we all preferred to sit and now all of these people at the table were looking directly at me. I wondered to myself whether this is the right time to confess all. I turned and looked into my wife’s eyes and saw the smile on her face, the hopeful expectation in her eyes and thought, ok, I will admit it. I am having an affair and I have to admit to it sometime. Sheepishly with my eyes looking down to the table, I said yes. Nook, the wife of Bobby, asked me to speak up and could I say that again please? I looked across the table at her and saw the smile on her face and said “Yes, I am in love with her and like her most of the time”.
My wife squeezed my hand and as I looked at her again she was smiling so brilliantly and nestled her head into my shoulder, she was really happy. Only Trevor who was sitting next to K. Nook said anything negative. “I never thought I would hear
or see the day when you would come out in front of your wife and all your friends and admit you were having an affair and were in love with her. Especially with all the things you have said about her in past 9 years.”
I was relieved now. I started to relax and feel better about it. Having admitted this after all this time of trying to hide it from the wife, family, friends and acquaintances seemed such a relief and to see most of the people at the table all happy that I have finally “come out” about it. Maybe you know who I am talking about here. It is her; it is Bangkok, the City of Angels. I must also add, the city of scammers, the city with some people behind the wheels of cars who cannot drive properly, the city where people throw rubbish and stuff on the roads and footpaths, the same footpaths the motorcycle riders use to ride on to beat the traffic jam while I am also trying to walk to work on them, the same city where the footpaths have become narrower because of all the stalls on there and the same city where traffic jams are legendary and where the motorcycles have multiplied in number and anyone can drive them. Yes the same city that at times over the past 10 years has driven me nuts, made me so angry, pissed me right off and made me drink more and here I am, now saying in front of a lot of friends that I really love her. Have I gone crazy?
My first meeting with her was about 16 years ago and I have to admit that I was a different person back then as well. I was single and living in another Asian city and came to visit her for business and on some weekend vacations. It was very easy to like her back then, as she could easily look after the needs of a younger single man of that time, fulfill my fantasies, show me a different side to life than I had ever experienced before. Over about the next 4 years I came for holidays sometimes going up country seeing the real Thailand and real Thais, not just the ones I met in Nana, Cowboy and of course at her sister called Pattaya. These trips were split between regional visits and to Bangkok and overall I realised I liked Thailand and Thais. The average ordinary folks seemed to be hardworking and caring and knew how to enjoy themselves without having to spend an absolute fortune. When the opportunity came to relocate, to live full time here, it was an easy decision. By now I already had my Thai wife living with me overseas and thought it would be a great time, actually being in her Thailand and living in Bangkok full time although she did not come from Bangkok. Well I guess like a lot of casual relationships that end up getting more serous in nature, we (Ms Bangkok City and me) have had a rocky relationship that at times threatened to turn into a nasty divorce. It was after a couple of years that I concluded that I loved Thailand but did not love Bangkok in the same way.
For a while I did not say anything about her to anybody, or at least I thought I didn’t. My mum had always taught me that if you didn’t have anything good to say about somebody that it was better to say nothing. I thought that I was following this advice but apparently not. After about 3 years here my wife asked me if I wanted to move to another place. This shocked me: I asked her why she said that to me. She replied that she knew I did not like it here in Bangkok by my attitude and manner. She said that the minute we went outside the apartment I was a different person, immediately tooting the horn of the car, yelling at other cars even though they could not hear me behind the glass and in all the traffic noise. I would always immediately tell taxi drivers to meter kup when I first got into a taxi without waiting to see what they did, would moan when a less than cold beer was brought to the table, would make jokes about Officer Plod when I saw them standing at the roadside waiting for a victim and would even try to bargain with stall holders over bowls of noodles or rice and chicken. I was always commentating about the place and the people and characters who she said I thought were less than smart. I told her no, we will stay here, it is not perfect but I can live here. I think that secretly at this time I still thought that maybe I could change the place so it would be more like Farangland and especially the city where I grew up and had spent most time in.
After I thought about this for a few days, I realised that there was a problem in my mind and brain with me living here and I had bottled it up and it was starting to eat my guts up and so I started to talk and articulate these thoughts more with my friends. Over many years I learnt how to say some very cutting and funny (to me) things about Bangkok and Bangkokians. Not the local people who I knew personally mind you, they were all good people. I interacted with them both in work situations, in some social occasions and in a few personal relationships like with my mates' wives families or with some relatives of my wife. With these people it was like normal life. I did not enjoy the company of all of them, but this was the same with people I met back home in Farangland. Most of these Thai people had similar thoughts, ideas, aspirations as I did, relating to family, health, wealth, education, worries about aging parents etc. But I just knew they were not the normal ones out there in the streets; those ones were all just waiting to rip me off, scam me or my friends, had no morals or lesser ones then me. I could almost smell them the moment I went out on the street.
About two years ago, things really came to a head. It was on a Friday night and I had arranged to meet some mates for a few drinks after work. We were going to meet in Nana 4 just up from the entrance to the Nana complex. It was in September so it was dark sky and I was wondering if I would make it home before the heavens started to unleash their wet load. We met about 6 pm and were having a good time, chewing the fat, looking at the girls in the bar, making jokes about what we would like to do with some of them, talking about the different codes of football that were being played and shown on TV that weekend and just enjoying hanging out with mates. Around 7.30 pm a few of us married ones said we would now go home whilst the single guys were starting to settle in for a long night of fun and pleasure and stories that we would hear about the following week. As we left (there were 3 of us) and walked about 20 metres down towards Sukhumvit, we were accosted by 5 “ladies” of the middle gender at the entrance of Nana Complex and they were all over us and I immediately starting putting my hand over my wallet in my pocket trying to protect it. The main one all over me was Khun น่าเกลียด (ugly) and she had about ¼ inch thick of bright red lipstick on and was trying to kiss me and grab my goolies at the same time. I think her sister Khun ขี้เหร่ (more ugly) was behind me trying to get her hand into my pocket and I am sure it was not to give me a free hand job in middle of Nana. With me trying to get away and pushing and swearing and carrying on, I finally broke free. As the three of us scurried away towards Nana intersection laughing, yelling and carrying on, the skies opened up and we were soaked as we made our way down the obstacle course in that early part of Nana between the complex and the intersection that is called a footpath, weaving through the edge of the noodle carts and flower sellers and ducking the umbrellas that all the short Thai woman immediately put up as two drops of rain come down and you have to dodge, duck and weave from to avoid getting your eye poked out and so we said our goodbyes in a hurry and I started walking fast to get home, which is in lower Sukhumvit area.
As I walked along and went to cross soi 6, a motorcyclist went past in a hurry and splashed muddy water up all over me, on to my trousers and even up on to my shirt. I realized then that I had lost a button from top of my shirt in the melee with the 5 sisters from hell back at Nana.
There I am ringing our door bell and waiting for wifey to open up the apartment door and bring me a towel, a smile and some sympathy and instead what happens. She looks at me, sees missing button, red lipstick over my lips and cheeks and also smeared over my shirt and dripping dirty coloured water and standing there with a real mean look on my face. I hear something like “You should bring your girl back here with you to help you clean up.” Bloody hell! I go inside, close the door and strip off to my jocks right there inside the door with pile of wet clothes at my feet and stand there with the wife looking at me. Her eyes opened up even wider as I walked to the lounge room sliding windows and walked out on the balcony in just my underpants. I was about to have my Peter Finch moment acting like Howard Beale in the film Network. I stood there and started to yell out “I am as mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore” however I don’t think anyone could hear it as just after I got the first two words out, a great clap of thunder rolled out followed about 2 seconds later by the brightest streak of lightening I have even seen which went off about 2 metres away from me and I swear I could feel the current in it. I was shocked and jumped back and went inside. This time the wife was more conciliatory and seemed to be concerned for both my physical and mental well being and was trying to hug me tight. I was thinking, up you Bangkok, as I realized I had just been given the equivalent of a long stiff middle finger salute. How could she do this to me?
Two long strong drinks, a hot shower, much swearing and threatening and 90 minutes later I was in bed and thinking about plans to sell up, get a new job anywhere and get the hell out of here. I don’t remember any dreams I had but I am sure that there were many that night.
Next morning I arose around 6.00 am as normal on a Saturday for my weekend morning exercise walk through the back sois and then into the Tobacco Monopoly compound and then around Benjakiti Park walking around the lake and the well kept gardens and lawns. As I walked I realized that she (Ms Bangkok) knew she went too far with me last night and so this morning she put on a lovely blue sky with some wispy white clouds, a gorgeous sunrise, a light breeze and temperature around about 25 degrees Celsius. I just knew she was trying to make up to me after her outrageous behavior towards me the previous night, but I was not going to be fooled. After arriving home and cooling down and showering, I came out to the smell of a great eggs and bacon breakfast waiting for me. It seems that wifey had a telephone call from mate’s wife which confirmed all my babbling the previous night about ladyboys, weather, rain and the whole world in Bangkok being against me. I did start to feel better.
Over the next few months a whole lot of events happened and seemed to intertwine in my life. We had a company conference here in Bangers which everyone enjoyed and I did too showing some of the younger guys around after work hours to see some of the sights and bars that they just did not have in conservative old Farangland. We had a lot of family visitors, some with young kids so we went to places we would not normally go to and seeing Bangkok through young kids' eyes, we had older folks here for some lovely dinners and day trips around shopping and touring and of course doing one of my favorite pastimes in Bangers, which is eating. With the younger family guys I find it compulsory to get a plate of insects as we have some beers on the street and try to keep a straight face as I munch on the plate of protein. I find that on about the third one if I pull out a leg and wave it about and sniff at it and say (with as straight a face as I can) I think that one was gay, it always gets a good reaction. I found I was enjoying life again. Even work was being ok, even though in the economic climate of the time we were not setting any records.
About 9 months later we went on holiday back to Farangland and I was looking forward to it, to feel again how the real world operates. We were there for 3 weeks and mostly had a good time but I noticed some things there this time that I must have overlooked growing up there. The service overall was crappy, food and drink was expensive, the place had grown many more ignorant dickheads than I remembered from growing up there. In fact some places I went to seemed to excel in them. A lot of these people seemed quite normal for a start but you only had to add about 3 glasses of alcohol to them for the rubbish to start. So much of it was racial prejudice from people who if they had been out of the country at all, it was probably on a tour of 43 countries in 6 days but this of course made them experts in knowing that their country(s) in Farangland were much better than any of those other places, especially in Asia. It was explained to me by one expert that every Thai woman is a LBFM in bed, all of them as that was what they were born for. (I should have taken him home to explain to my wife what was missing in our life). Overall it was a good holiday from the meetings up with family and friends again, but in seeing the rest of life there and the narrow way the news of the rest of the world was presented in the media and the narrow views of a lot of the populace made me wonder about it all.
A few months ago I was out with a group of male friends and there were some new people who I did not know who had only been in the city for around 6 months and one guy who I will call Wanker #1 starts mouthing off about Bangkok and the people here and the rules or lack of them and the attitude of the people and he and I get into a long strong discussion about people coming from Farangland and having no real idea of the background and issues that the average Thai has been through in their life to get to where they are today. I try to explain to him that for most of them the upbringing has been from parents who did not have the opportunity to get a good education, who were staring poverty and lack of money in the face every day and who instilled a legacy of saving and not spending into their kids. When they had a chance to get their paws or snout into a full trough, they were told to take the opportunity to get their fill and make sure they fought to keep their place there in the queue in any way possible. It was not the ideals I was brought up on and did not agree with them but you need to understand the other person before you become an expert on them and start to criticize them and all of their values. You have never had to walk in their shoes, so how can you know exactly how they feel. I told him this did not always make their behavior ok, but you should judge them against their environment they came from not the environment you grew up in back home in Farangland.
He asked me to tell him some good things about Bangkok, anything I could think of; the way he sneered this at me got my temper up and I looked at him in the eyes and said I would but I did not expect a spoilt, narrow-minded prat like him to understand. I told him I loved the idea that people could be sitting in a building in a smart restaurant in the middle of Bangkok having a dinner and drinks that cost 3,000 baht a head and having a good time whilst in front of that same building out on the footpath other people could be with their friends having dinner of a bowl of noodles and a cold beer for 60 baht a head and they were enjoying this with their friends just as much as the people inside. I loved the way that Thais who would only spend as little as possible on their lunch food and would queue up to take a crowded slow bus home rather than pay more for a quicker service on BTS, would then put small amount of money into a beggar's bowl. I loved the way that they would sit together over a small amount of food and maybe one can of beer and share it all and be laughing and enjoying themselves. I also loved the way that if there was a crowd and there were kids around, especially small young ones, Thais of all ages would smile at them, some would try to hold them and for sure would all light up with big smiles at them. I said I loved the warm weather here and the fact I never ever wear a tie any more. I love the fact I can get food about 20 metres from the front of my apartment although if I want it at 3.00 am in the morning I have to go 100 metres for it. I liked the way that people around my office would help me if they saw I needed it (took about 6 years for this happen) and also liked the way they successfully jai yen yen (“keep a cool heart”) when things are going wrong around them, that their first thought is not to yell and scream about everything and to show respect for others. (Sometimes in an office situation I do wish they would get a little warmer or hotter about some issues!)
Luckily Mr. knows everything did not ask me about things I did not like about Bangkok or else we may have been there all night and next morning as well. Obviously this conversation with Wanker #1 was noted by some mates and relayed to their spouses when they got home because next day wifey casually brought it up in her normally roundabout way and I just told her the guy was an idiot. She had probably heard about it from a mate’s wife; he obviously related my agitation about it all.
Over the next few months I noticed that some mates would say some things to try to wind me up over happenings or occurrences that were occurring around us in Bangkok city (let's leave out the red shirts and Ratchaprasong here) and wifey would say some things about the local scene and ask me what I thought. I was deliberately trying to not let the traffic get to me especially when driving (I only yell about every third block now) so things were going along nicely. I still made some comments about Bangkok, the politicians, the boys in brown and the way the big men got their snouts into everything that had money in it. I thought that overall things were ok here (well sort of, you know what I mean, it is all relative). It was then that we decided to go with a bunch of friends to have that dinner I described at the start and I think there was a conspiracy by mates and their wife’s to make me come out publicly.
There, so now I have come clean about it all openly. I have lived here a long time and could probably list you nine pages of things that have pissed me off over this time. I could also probably list you three pages of things that make me happy and I have enjoyed. On reflection I realize that I am not the same person who came here some 12 years ago and just as Ms Bangkok city has changed in that time, then so have I. Let me make you a suggestion. If you are having doubts about Bangkok and living here, may I suggest you may like to emulate the Howard Beale character from Network and go out on to your balcony at night and let the whole of Bangkok know what you think of it (just don’t do it in a thunderstorm though). Then get up next morning and see what my good friend Ms Bangkok has in store for you. I know she is not just true to me only; she does lend her favors to others but I think it is only to others who like her and show her some respect. We now have a pretty good relationship. I don’t mouth off about her and the people of her country anymore (well not as much) and she in turn does not annoy me or piss me off as much.
Maybe we are both just getting older and more mature?
I can really relate to the love hate relationship you have with Bangkok, and I bet many others can too!