My First Bargirl
It was mid 2006. I'd flown into Bangkok and planned on a couple of days on Koh Samui to recover from jet lag before heading on to Koh Tao for some diving. It was my first trip to Thailand.
Jet lag affects me terribly. Coming over here, I'm trashed for three days or so. Going back to America, I'm useless for a week. It takes that long to reset my internal clock. I wake and sleep at odd times. I'm confused. I don't function well. Nothing helps. I just have to ride it out.
I arrived at Don Meaung about midnight, headed to my hotel and got some sleep. The next morning I flew to Koh Samui, checked into my room and went back to sleep. I woke that night just as it was getting dark.
I walked out of my hotel to my first dose of Thai traffic. I was stunned. Three lanes of traffic each way on what should have been a two lane road. I very carefully walked to the 'fishing village' nearby and had Pla Rad Prik, my favorite Thai dish.
After a good meal and with a totally screwed up internal clock, I decided to check out the nightlife. It was still quite early when I arrived in Chaweng; maybe 7:30 PM. I went to a bar and ordered a beer. Shortly after ordering, I had to pee. I was afraid of being drugged, so rather than finish my beer, I paid and left the bar.
I walked to another bar and arrived just as it was opening. The girls were perfoming various rituals, sprinkling whiskey around the entrance, touching each other with hundred baht notes, and pouring bad Scotch into good bottles. I laughed to myself and thought I was really in Thailand.
There was a lady in the bar and we began to talk. We became friendly. She spoke bargirl English. "I lie you very mut" and that sort of thing. She was 36. I was 49. I laugh now, but at the time I felt like I was getting some young stuff.
We decided to go back to my hotel. I was still disoriented and caught the songthaew going the wrong way. We reached the end of the road, but we hadn't found my hotel. The driver began to get antsy.
Suddenly, my bargirl turned to me and said in perfect English, "John, I need you to think. What is the name of your hotel?"
"And it is on what beach?", she asked.
When I mangled the name, she asked, "How do you spell that?"
I told her.
The driver turned around and got us to my hotel quickly. Once she could tell him where I was staying, there was no problem.
I was tired and disoriented, an absolute newbie, but not drunk. As soon as we got to the room, I asked her, "Why do you speak English so well?" "Why did you speak English so badly before?", and "Why are you working in a bar?"
Her answers were a bit surpising.
"I speak English well because I worked for an American shirt company in Udon Thani supervising twenty five seamstresses. I had to be able to talk to my supervisors and the company paid for my lessons. The company moved its production to China because it was cheaper. I'm really sorry I spoke to you that way. That is what farangs expect of me. Many of them will be frightened if I speak normally. Oh, I don't really work bar. I come down here and visit a girlfriend and hang out in the bar and hope I'll meet a man to be my husband. I like the money – it's fast and easy, but really, I'm looking for a husband. Money for sex is not that important in the long run."
I told her I was not husband material at that time.
"Don't worry about it", she laughed, "You'll do for tonight."
We went to bed and did normal stuff.
Jet lag woke me about three AM. I went to pee. When I returned to bed she was awake and began a slow, gentle massage to put me back to sleep. Not being accustomed to being massaged by a strange, naked woman, I became aroused. We had sex again. Not porn star sex. Just gentle sex between two humans who know how alone they are.
She stayed with me the next day. I wanted to walk a lot and she only had her high heels from the bar so I bought her a pair of cheap sandals. She was delighted.
We awoke early the morning I was to leave for Koh Tao and had breakfast together. She took our picture with her cell phone. She smiled, she laughed, she entertained me. The money was 'up to you' so I gave her a couple of thousand baht.
I had no idea what I should give her.
I still remember watching her walk away. I didn't love her. I wouldn't miss her in any real way. But she had been one of the kindest people I had ever met. She took absolutely the best care of me she could for twenty five dollars a day, about what I made in fifteen minutes. She looked so sad, so small, walking away.
I don't miss her. I didn't love her. But I'll never forget her.