Thoughts #09 Marry Me, Oh Yes!
When she told me “Oh Yes!” it was completely unexpected.
Well, I reflected, when a woman says "Yes" it can be a good thing but what about when she says "Oh Yes"? Was that different from just a “Yes”? Well, I thought, this could mean a number of things only with more of an emphasis as to leave the listener in no doubt and they were often extremes, for example;
(he) "Is it my turn to clean the toilet dear?"
(she) "Oh Yes!"
(he) “You really like this 200,000 baht piece of metal called gold necklace do you?"
(she) "Oh Yes!"
And I could carry on but it is not necessary other than to say that I learnt to be weary of the various "Oh Yeses" I have heard during my life but this time it was more worrying than that because to my question “Are you saying that you would like to marry?”
Well, without hesitation she said “Oh Yes!”
I looked at her watching the Television plasma screen in the hotel room while I finished shaving. If beauty is in the eyes of the beholder then let me tell you that my teeruk looks very pretty to my eyes and I genuinely believe that she is all good in a wholesome sort of way. She is healthful, salubrious, vigorous and a lot more. There is nothing than compares to when she sees me at my desk writing another line or reading a few pages and she comes and sits quietly on my lap and then, playfully, she runs her hands on my face, caresses with my ears, pushes and twists my big nose, runs her hand through my hair, sniffs a kiss on my cheek and then without a word she just lets me be. Funny enough she never calls me “Hansum man” I asked her why. One day I said
“Do you realise that when I walk to Bobby off Sukhumvit, Soi 4, all the girls in the street salute me clamourously by saying “Hansum man…where you go? I go with you!”
She looks at me and just smiles and then says “Darling we are what we are. Just be glad they call you that” and in that moment I feel both amused by her answer and content but marry? Where did that come from?
I will be 48 soon and I remain in good physical conditions with a head full of hair…well the hair thankfully stops at the beginning of my forehead and going south I shave the rest with the exception for the two parallel lines of hair above my eyes I think they are called eyebrows in English and I just trim those. They seem to be there to frame and contrast the two deep chestnut colour eyes just below them. If Al Pacino had my eyes it would have won more Oscars. Enough said. For the rest, I think Al Pacino is better looking but as for the eyes, he has some competition or so they tell me.
When I was much younger, one woman once said to me "Oh my God your eyes are so deep and piercing that I feel they can see through me" She was a lowly educated, impolite, loud and superficial woman and I had no intention to entertain the conversation further and, in an uncharacteristic snobbish manner, I quipped "Yes you are correct my dear and I don't like the underwear you are wearing!" She threw the wine from her glass in my face and stomped off the bar. I wiped my face with a napkin. I was glad and she was gone. You learn from those mistakes.
My good friends frequently ask me “Tommaso, haven’t you got married yet?”
My former girlfriends ask me “Well, have you married anyone yet?”
Even my own mother asks me “When will you marry, son?”
And when I reply that I haven’t and that my last story did not work out, they seem surprised that I seemingly lost another one and they ask “How come you always get that wrong?” and I always end up replying “Because it’s not important for me to get it right” but I know that no matter how many times I fail, I know that the day I stop looking, that will be the day I die.
And yet this Thai lady, my teeruk, now I am away and I still think of her. I still smell her.
Thai women, I reflect, who made them? God must have been an amazing genius! The hair…they say the hair is everything. Well my dear readers, have you ever buried your nose in a head full of soft and shiny hair? Did it not make you feel as if you wanted to go and sleep forever? And lips…and when they touched yours they were like that first swallow of wine…after you just crossed Lumpini Park and reached Siam Paragon in the torrid heat of the summer. Breasts…big ones or little ones it does not really matter as long as those cute little nipples keep staring right at you, oh yes, like secret search lights. What about legs? I don’t care if they are like Greek columns or second hand Steinways. What’s between them…passport to heaven. Brothers and Sisters, let me tell you there are only three words in this whole wide world full of meaning “Holy Thai Vulva” or HTV and I hope you are listening to me because I am giving you pearls here.
I work hard and I am loyal to the people I know. I am also discreet by choice. This makes people think that I am trustworthy. Trust is a big thing and I like trustworthy. I do all I can to maintain this reputation. I enjoy growing older. I do not hurry mind you but I seem to sense that while I am nearing half a century, I understand a little more. You see, when we are young we rely on so many myths and we believe the information imparted on us is true but we do not have the facts and in that sense we are clueless. Experience is something we understand we have acquired after we have made some mistakes. Some people learn from their mistakes some people never do and find it difficult to move to the next level.
As you know I studied with the Jesuits. I know about the Church and I have seen enough priests to last me a life time. As a child, I played with my peers in church courtyards, I was a choir boy and I served Mass. In the whole, religions, any, can be a good thing for many aspects. They provide comfort for many, especially for the vulnerable and destitute and they make them feel as if someone cares. The truth though is that when times are bad and you find yourself down, there are no Gods rushing to your side, they are all busy at the banqueting table while you find yourself suffering, ‘cause that’s the way it is and has always been and it is down to you to pick yourself up and carry on. Well, Brothers and Sisters, when the proverbial hits the fan, some guys run and some guys stay. It is a well known fact that there are two kind of people in this world, those who stand up and face the music and those who run for cover. God does seem to have a sense of humour after all.
The Church was good for me. I understood something about discipline and I came across a few historical figures which were quite impressive. That Palestinian seemingly good looking fellow, tall for his generation, with kind eyes and a beard. He was the son of a carpenter, he spoke Aramaic and went on to learn Greek and Latin. He was a fine linguist and quite an orator by all accounts. He addressed crowds and was kind to women and children but he had no patience for the money exchangers at the temple. He did not like these "Bankers", he saw through them. We should have learnt from him but we didn't. Now it may be too late.
The local Governor tried to trick him by speaking to him in both Greek and Latin and the young fellow replied accordingly. The Governor was surprised that he could converse in these languages and he was fascinated by the things he heard the young fellow speak. The latter should have stayed quiet but he probably was not aware that the locals could nail him on a cross when he stepped out of line. In those days dying on a cross was a standard punishment. The nail was driven just below the palm of one’s hand, between the tendons as to prevent the dead weight pulling the body down and for the nail to lacerate the flesh while hanging there. And the Governor, you ask me, what did he do? Why? Don’t you know? He just washed his hands of it.
I liked that fellow (and still do) because of the way he loved. He mixed with poor people and beggars and lepers and hookers and other lower beings of ill repute and he truly loved them all.
He would have loved lower Sukhumvit too, plenty of work for him to do there. He would have probably found his way to Nana Plaza and all the go-go girls would have made sweet eyes with him and the lady boys would have sought his reassurances too. Wine and bread are not as easily found in Thailand but he was resourceful and he would have bought bags of fried insects and freshly squeezed orange juice and shared those with them although he would have probably refrained from referring to them as his own body and blood if you see my meaning.
I do not think he would have bar fined anyone because he already had his eyes set on a woman and he was faithful to her. She went by the name of Mary Magdalene and she was awesome and as pretty as one can be. "Oh Yes". He would have married her all right. One woman, one only, a true love for life. That is the way it should be, should it not? However, his father would not have approved had he chosen to do so. That would have completely spoiled the bigger picture and possibly affected the marketing of the biggest sale ever, wrapped up and offered as “Redemption”. Thus the young fellow had to conceal his feeling. However, that did not stop the speculators and the gossipers to allege that there was something going on between those two.
"Do as you would be done by", or similar derivations, is the maxim of the "golden rule" exemplified in many Christian stories such as the parable of the Good Samaritan.
The Church, as I have alluded, can be a good thing but in this day and age at times they seem to forget their golden rules along with all the other rules made of silver, bronze and copper or such alike.
Do we need a church? That is not for me to say. I can find God in a tranquil garden, under either a smooth stone or a rough piece of wood, in the horizon of an early morning, out at sea or even in the eyes of a beautiful face. I am Tommaso after all, the bearer of good and exclusive news and a raconteur of light hearted stories right? Partly, this is true and, after all, I am in the business of the amazing business. Well, that may be so but for the purpose of this entry let's bear in mind that most religion is man-made to suit….well…men.
Then Themis came along. She was a girl, blind in both eyes. She was thick set and not pretty, just solid. She did not like the church much. She respected it and co-existed with it but just about tolerated it and often argued with it. She had learnt to be objective and she used to hold scales in her hands but she was no fool and did not use the scales to sell apple and oranges in the local market. "Oh no", this girl was bright and carried a sword in her right hand and if you think that "The bride" in the movie Kill Bill was awesome, well let me tell you that Themis was even fiercer. She started well and women loved her. She gave them better rights and advised them that if they married a brute they could leave him and even suggested that it could be something as tenuous as "Mental cruelty" or even "Unreasonable behaviour" and as long as the union had "Irretrievably broken down" they could file for something called Divorce because a matrimony was not ,as the Church alleged, a sacred institution, a sacrament, a social union between two people who promised to love each other until death made them part "Oh no" she told them that it was a legal contract and “Divorce” would ensure objectivity and fairness and reasonableness for the parties.
I asked Themis "What is reasonable?" but she disappointed me because she did not have an answer. She had books, rules, statutes, paragraphs and codicils but she had never thought of defining "Reasonable". I asked the women I knew if they thought this was right and they all said "Oh Yes".
I never saw Themis after that and when I go to the place where she allegedly resides all I see is people dressed in black with priests-like long gowns but they are not kind like some of the priests I have known in Church and they carry no cross and yet they sit on a pulpit nevertheless and instead of sermons they deliver judgements. They insist of taking every word down and record them in transcripts and frankly they can be quite annoying in the way they debate or sum up not just every word but every comma and full stop too. I stay away from these guys. Clever and articulate they are for sure but they seem to have very little mercy in them.
But that is the trouble you see, because Themis has left the interpretation of this so called contract to them, and they endlessly argue on how the assets should be shared and, depending of which part of the world we found ourselves, they even take into account those assets that one owed prior to the marriage or those one will acquire after it.
Is this fair and reasonable? I would not know because I never married but those men who did and went through a Divorce may have been left with a bitter taste in their mouths and if they ever find Themis they will be bound to give her a good kick in her butt.
I look at my teeruk and I think she is so lovely and then I think of my married friends and their wives. Hmm, I reflect, they seem to have been in the sugar business for so long they have forgotten the taste of real honey. As for me, I just want to go back to lie down in that comfortable bed with my teeruk and lose my brain for a while making love to her with reckless abandonment. There was a time when I was a man of learning, a voracious reader and I could recite part of the “Iliad” in ancient Greek and now, endowed with wisdom and of judgment sound, let me tell you that nothing compares to a HTV and judging by what I have read here, I do not seem to be the only one.
Father Giuseppe was a highly principled teacher in my early days. He kept telling us about the right path. After so many years of listening to him, all of us knew what the right path was in life and yet, without exception, hardly anyone took it and you know why? Because it was too damn hard! Then you grow from a child-like body and into a man. You come to the cross-roads and you remember Father Giuseppe’s words very clearly as if he is there:
“A right path is made of principle that leads to character.”
But if I told him about the possibility of marrying a Thai woman he would not know, he could not know unless he had had experience of the HTV. Thus, I knew I had to continue my journey on my own.
I think of my married friends again. They are married, with children and yet they no longer smile. They no longer hold their wives hands when with other people. They no longer stay awake to watch them sleep. As a matter of fact they often fall asleep before them. They no longer turn to tell me “That’s her”. I have seen some bad things during my time in the service. Arms torn, legs ripped off, scars so deep you could push your hand inside and yet there is nothing like the sight of an amputated spirit. There is no prosthetic for that. These men marry for genuine reasons. Because they want to be happy but without knowing they may be executing their souls. Mind you it works for some but for me?…I would not be able to tell you.
Some readers have been writing to me saying that they spotted me in various parts of Bangkok. One was so sure that he had seen me that he sent a photo to me of a man wearing a cassock and he asked me if I always wore the “habit”. When I replied I told him that indeed he was right in many ways because I did arrive in Sodom and Gomorrah simply attired in my plain “uniform” but not quite what he had imagined. You see, historically, a "Jesuit-style cassock" used to be standard issue: it wrapped around the body and was tied with a cincture, rather than the customary buttoned front along with a tuftless biretta (only diocesan clergy wore tufts), and a ferraiolo (cape). Now, that would have looked quite distinct even in 2550, which is what the calendar showed the year to be on my arrival when I first landed in the city of sin. Alas only American Jesuits wear black cassocks and the Roman collar but Italian Jesuits, believe it or not, do not have an official habit. In our Constitutions of the Society, it gives these instructions concerning clothing; "The clothing too should have three characteristics: first, it should be proper; second, conformed to the usage of the country of residence; and third, not contradictory to the poverty we profess…" (Const. 577). As to my habit, a visit to Bobby of Raja’s fashion in Soi 4 made me discard the pauper attire and replace it with something more consonant to my current liking. His motto is “Dress sharp, look sharp and feel sharp” That was good enough for me and enough said on this matter. Of course, his shop happened to be opposite a car park, the like of which I have never seen in the UK and despite the ones in Blighty happen to charge a lot more just for “entering”, they actually provide a lot less if you get my drift.
Another reader wrote admitting that he had not read the Stickman’s column and the readers’ submission site as often as he would have liked but he had enjoyed my stories. This was very concerning to me, not just because people seem to bother to read the nonsense I write when I cannot sleep but more worryingly because he had not read the Stickman’ site, an unforgivable sin even for a protestant. Thus, I asked him to purchase a rosary with large beads because the small ones are far too fiddly, and recite the act of contrition together with Sub tuum praesidium, the oldest known prayer to Mary. I also advised him to finish with a “Salve Regina”, it is a favourite of the blessed lady and she would surely have liked this kind reader very much if he could have done so. The reason why I was lenient with him was because he admitted that he had stayed away from the internet. That was a good thing I told him. I mean look at what happened to Dana…enough said.
As so dear readers, I come to the end of another few thoughts and I recommend you a daily practice of the readers’ submissions and, if you can, deepen your knowledge and acquire a full understanding of all the information stored therein. You see, we Jesuits are not just “Amigos En El Señor” Spanish for "Friends in the Lord" but also “Companions” You may or may not know after all that the word "Company" comes ultimately from Latin, cum + pane = "With bread", or a group that shares meals. Now, I do not know how much “bread” Stick eats, obviously not a lot judging by his name, but he does a good job with this website and in the long term he may save us all some money and the inevitable heartaches that come from losing not just the money but the love too. Amen.