Putting “Love” Into Perspective In Thailand
What do we really know about love? A strange question I suppose – and something that we hardly ever ask ourselves, most likely. I have always admired the work of enigmatic American poet Emily Dickinson (10/12/1830 – 15/05/1886) who wrote
this simple poem on the subject of Love: “That Love is all there is, is all we know of Love; It is enough, the freight should be proportioned to the groove”. The statement appears to be simple and even dismissive, in the brevity
of the words – but what she is saying holds the key to avoiding so much of the grief that we bring upon ourselves in Intimate Engagement – particularly on the subject of Farang/Thai involvement. I think she is saying Love is –
but don't put more expectations on it than the foundations are capable of supporting. Simple enough in engineering terms – and a perfectly sound attitude to hold. Now let's translate that into specifics regarding our expectations
of the Thai bar-girl.
Let us put ourselves into the place of the average Thai bar-girl. Forget about the mid-high-end escorts because here we are dealing with a different kind of mindset. Mostly, they are true professionals who are only interested in making the
most money in the shortest possible time. Generally, they will not be interested in finding a Farang to “rescue them” and give them a better lifestyle because they will be doing quite well on their own, thank you very much –
possibly as professional girls in the general work force or as students at university with much higher goals than being a domestic lackey to some fat, old Farang fart.
OK, you come from Mahasarakham or maybe Roi Et, with limited education and a family background that only knows hard work on a small rice farm. What are your options? Not a lot of choice there – you certainly know that you are not going
to be following in the footsteps of your idol, Jintara Poonlarp, as a successful recording artist. You love your family and two of your elder sisters are already working in Bangkok – and they have told you there is good money to be made
in the bar where they are working. Your decision is a “no-brain-er”.
Almost all of Emily Dickinson's life was occupied pondering the nature of simple things – a stone; waves on a beach; Faith; Sanity; Life; Immortality – and, of course Love – something she longed to have all her life
yet found it to be as ephemeral as many of her poems.
Seems to me there is a strong analogy here with the average Farang who goes to Thailand (or any Asian country) looking for true love. So, here comes the question – “What is true love?” Do we even know what “Love”
is? All that I know is that it has to be unconditional – because, without that stipulation, it is bound to fail. To compound the problem is the factor of expectations that all of us hold – and those expectations manifest in many
ways, dependent on our upbringing, life experience and sexuality. Some of us will be looking for what they believe is true love and commitment while others will be looking for a quick screw with no attachment afterward.
I'm not so much interested in the “quick screw with no attachment afterward” modus operandi – merely throwing that in there to illustrate the difference between the “fine” and the “gross”
motive of both approaches. Surveys would very likely indicate that there would be a far-higher percentage of patrons looking for the “quick screw with no attachment afterward” motive – and that is fine if that is all that
is expected. However, that “expected” word rears its ugly head and hammers home the concept of “expectation” again.
Many of us complain about the insincerity of a Thai bar-girl – but what do we really expect of her? Sure, we pay up and she delivers fully (in most cases) on the verbal contract negotiated. We pay for sex and that's what she gives
– and, like anything else in this world, you only get what you pay for. She is under no obligation to give more than that – but quite often she does. Just because she happens to work as a bar-girl does not alter the fact that she
is a human being trying to make the best of what she has to enable her dream in life to come true. Perhaps her dream may be to educate herself better so that she may find a more acceptable method of earning a living – or it may simply be
that she wants to fulfil the obligation she sees to support her Family back in the village. It would be safe to say that this group of people would be her primary “Love”. If you asked her what “Love” meant to her, she
would probably say “'my Family' is everything to me – the people whom I love”.
Understandably, this is so because these people have nurtured her from the day she was born and the bonds are strong – and, consequently, she sees it as her duty to repay these people for giving her life and allowing her to grow in
their care and love. This girl's first priority will always be to her family. Like Emily Dickinson, who was brought up in a Calvinist community in Amherst – and attended The Congregational Church, this girl will have most likely been
brought up in a belief in Buddhist philosophy. No matter what their belief is, they both will believe in a higher power – whether it be Jesus Christ or Lord Buddha – so they share one strong bond.
So, back to the nature of “Love”. Clarity comes from the most unexpected places – often through association and identifying with a certain character that captured your attention. For me, it was the central character in
a TV “soapie” of the 90's – Ally McBeal, played by Calista Flockhart. I admired her determination to find her “Billy” from a childhood romance – and never accepting anything less than she expected
– always still looking for Billy.
So you might ask “What has this to do with 'Love' and Thai bar-girls”? It has everything to do with it – the core of how we approach it all. What it comes down to is understanding yourself and what it is that
you hope to achieve. Many writers warn against falling in love with a Thai bar-girl – something to be avoided at all cost. Why? I'll tell you. Falling in love with expectations is one thing – but falling in love is another thing.
They are like chalk and cheese.
Falling in love (unconditional love) without expectations is a realistic way to approach the exercise. Just for the night, you can feel love for that girl – but you do not have the right to expect that she will feel the same for you.
She may choose to stay with you for longer – say a week – but remember that her priority is her family. Even if you marry her, you will always come a long last on her list of priorities. Know this well! On the other hand, if you
have expectations in the same circumstances, you are in emotional peril. You do not have the right to expectations unless you can deliver what it is that she needs in the long run. This is where the problems come from – do not promise that
which you cannot deliver.
A recent contributor (Sick Of Hearing Nothing but Doom and Gloom – 22/05/2012 – by Happy Old Man) impressed me greatly by writing how he knew the expectations of his girl and those of her family – and he made arrangements
to honour those expectations. That made all the difference to the success of his marriage and the career success of his wife. So refreshing to hear success stories like that one on this website.
Even today, I still give thanks to Ally McBeal for showing me what it is to be true to your ideals and beliefs – and the wisdom of Emily Dickinson for her incisive examinations of simple things.
Referring to the second to last paragraph specifically, and the notion of love with bargirls in general, I guess it shows that many men are simply not prepared to take on financial responsibility for a woman + various members of her family + any kids she may have to other men. A Thai man wouldn't…so why should a foreigner?!