Almost a Christmas Romance
Well it would seem the Mayan apocalypse forecast for the 21st of December never materialised and Christmas didn’t work out quite as bad for me as I thought it would. Working on a project in Cumbria just before Christmas gave me the money to cover my bills and provided an additional few quid to ensure I did not see the festive season entirely as penniless and sober as I had earlier feared.
Actually the contract was quite interesting; it was at a foundry subsidiary of an international corporation. They have a group of apprentices who are learning practical skills on the job and the key skills for an NVQ through a local college but there is not an educational establishment within a 300-mile radius that can teach them the requisite underpinning knowledge in casting technology. So the industry’s professional institute have been engaged to deliver a technical certificate over six weeks. Through them I had been given the job to teach it.
As I was delivering the first week of the course alone there was sufficient in the budget so I could stay in a decent hotel in the town centre. It is an interesting little town and right opposite my hotel were 5 lively pubs. I spotted quite a few scantily clad fat assed female revellers out and about but I was too busy being responsible and writing material for the sessions to explore them. We were starting from scratch again with education in our industry after 20 years of neglect so I had a lot of work to do.
However I am returning in January (and every month until July) so hopefully there will be opportunity to avail myself of the delights of said establishments. I can only hope I will encounter a little mischief and be assured I will recount any rosy cheeked capers that ensue.
I have also met a new lady… a Thai lady in fact. It is quite exciting although I suspect a few heartaches face me… but more of that later
I returned from Cumbria and engaged again with my male voice choir. It was the week before Christmas before we finished the choir’s festive concert programme. I love singing the Christmas music as it never fails to raises one's spirits but I am always a little relieved when it is over. We are out twice a week and it is a long, tiring programme in which I sing a couple of solos. The final concert always signals the beginning of Christmas for me.
Steady the buffs there Phet I hear you say, never mind all this flam- flummery …pray tell us more of your new Thai lady friend ….and do so with all good speed.
I met the lady on an internet dating site. The proximity of her location was the initial attraction, seeing a Thai lady living so close is unusual so I paid a month's subscription to allow my sending her a note to introduce myself. I was astonished how quickly I received a reply in which she also gave me her mobile number requesting I phone her. I did so and was pleasantly surprised at her interest despite her having seen my photo. She further surprised me by suggesting we meet the following evening. She only lives a short distance from me on the opposite side of town and we are effectively within a mile of each other. I parked the car outside the address she gave me to see her walk towards the car with her 6-year old daughter in tow. The unexpected appearance of said offspring altered my intention of a quiet drink so once they were ensconced in my ageing vehicle I suggested we go somewhere to eat. Fearing McDonalds or Kentucky fried rat may be on the agenda I asked if they fancied eating Thai, to which they agreed.
The journey to my favourite Thai establishment took around 20 minutes in which time I establish my date was originally from Ayutthaya and had lived in the UK for 8 years. She separated from her English husband six months ago when she moved to my home town from Birmingham where her estranged husband still lived.
As I pulled up outside the pub that housed the restaurant she smiled and said “I did not think we were coming here”. Seeing my vacant expression she continued “I have just began to work here as a waitress on Saturday nights”. I was surprised but although I was a regular I very rarely frequent it on Saturdays. We enter the restaurant and my friend Ann (the maitre de) is astonished to see us together. I joke that we are neighbours and met when she was putting her dustbins out one morning.
Dee is 40 and still reasonably trim and although not pretty in a classic Thai way in my eyes she is very attractive. My eldest son happened to be in the bar that evening with his drinking pals. I introduced him to Dee (and her daughter) and he charmed them as is his wont. He seemed amused and said he could see my attraction for her as she had similar features to my ex Thai wife Nat. I really hadn’t noticed this until he mentioned it. I must be a real pain being so predictable.
Dinner went well. I had ordered a sea bass with lemon and chillies accompanied with a duck stir fry, and the whole meal was quite exquisite. Her daughter was a precocious but unbelievably cute luk kreung sweetie. I have always been good with children and kept her entertained throughout the evening.
When I drive them home Dee asked to be dropped where I picked her up, suggesting she did not want me to see exactly where she lived. I was still unsure if she liked me but I had done nothing to scare her away and had done nothing stupid like “being myself”.
It was still quite early when I dropped them off home and I felt a great thirst upon me. So I made my way to my local “the Welded Wallet”. The karaoke was in full swing and I sang a few Christmas numbers to get everyone into a festive spirit.
On the Sunday my youngest son had returned from university so I collected him and his older brother and took them to see my mother. We then went back to my flat for a high cholesterol breakfast. Later we took a taxi to meet my brother and a few pals at the casino club to watch the Albion v West Ham game. It was actually a dire affair ending in a goalless draw but we retained our joint fifth place. Only standing by genetic memory by 9.00 PM we all staggered out and took taxis to our respective abodes.
The next day I received a call from Dee asking if wanted to see her daughter in the nativity play at school. It had been a number of years since I had to suffer my own sons’ nativity extravaganzas. I had hoped it was all behind me until some point in an indeterminate future when I would have to witness my grandchildren’s efforts.
I met her outside the primary school. As we all had to wait until the children were being prepared I went into the toilets for a quick pee. Whenever I visit a primary school I am always amazed what a Lilliputian world it is. Even the school “peeing up the wall” record that was marked above the urinals was actually only chest height. I vaguely recall being quite proud of reaching that distance when at primary school.
Eventually we took our seats with the adoring parents in the school hall. The children were all dressed as animals in costumes their doting mothers had slaved over for weeks. Being the multicultural West Midlands the ensemble was a third white, a third Indian and a third black or half caste. It was the usual cacophony as the children all sing tunelessly, slightly off pitch but with great enthusiasm. The performance was loosely based on the traditional nativity play but included exotic animals and crustaceans unlikely to be present in Bethlehem but it added to the charm.
Dee’s daughter was playing a cat which was obviously a key role as she was on stage in the stable scene and had a few lines to recite. She was constantly readjusting her tights which she informed us later she had put on backwards. It was all good innocent fun and reminded me of happier days when my own children were that age.
On the Wednesday I was taking my youngest lad to the Merry Hill shopping centre so he could buy some clothes, I invited Dee along as she claimed she had never been. Merry Hill (or Misery Hill as it is nicknamed by the men who have to traipse round it with their wives) is an impressive shopping mall on the outskirts of Dudley. It was built on the site of the Round Oak steelworks which employed thousands in honest labour in its heyday before its closure in Maggie’s recession…..it is now merely a monument to Mammon.
We had a rather pleasant day; my son is acquainted with the vagaries of Thai womanhood having spent time with my Thai wife and has an archetypal Isaan girl as his housemate at university. We had a reasonable lunch in one of the numerous food outlets. Both Dee and my lad had successful shopping expeditions and I was relieved to escape without spending too much money. Or less than I feared.
Thursday I once again took Dee and her daughter to the Thai restaurant to share my weekly need for Thai food. I must have been making progress as I was getting daily phone calls from the lady. This was nice for me; I rarely get female attention so was flattered.
In previous ramblings I discussed duality, the difference in my confidence when in Thailand compared to the UK, the disparity in my expectations and the issue of female availability.
Middle-aged men are certainly not in demand in the UK because there is no shortage of supply. From my interest in statistics I had determined there are at least four acceptable men for every tolerable woman in the 45 to 65 age group. Simple observation suggests that this situation is even worse in certain regions such as my town. My son’s friends inform me there is a similar situation amongst their age group. They often complain that many of the clubs and pubs they frequent are invariably a veritable “cockfest” although I do not have any empirical evidence to support their claim.
I have also discussed the issue of self confidence on a few occasions. One of my Bangkok pals Thomas is an intelligent chap and excellent company but feels it is his Christian duty to always point out when he feels I have made a prat of myself. He would be the first to admit he is sometimes a pain in the ass but I will declare his counsel is always well intentioned and often thought provoking. In my last submission I mentioned my date with the lady pianist who subsequently text me to inform me she would not be seeing me again as she did not feel a spark between us.
My initial thought at this rebuff was if she really wanted to feel a spark between us I should have just tasered her. I find this is the only way guaranteed to have a female falling at my feet. (I am only joking officer …please put the truncheon away). Thomas offered the suggestion that I should not have worked quite so hard to entertain and amuse the lady as I was the real catch not her.
This confidence is a generation thing. Unquestioning self confidence is a symptom of youth and is as it should be. But if one still has a blind self-assurance by the time he is in his dotage it is becoming arrogance and stupidity. If I am totally honest and look objectively I must question what sort of a catch I am.
I will acknowledge I am a decent bloke, honest, reliable and likeable with a ready wit and certainly not too physically repulsive. I still have a good head of hair and most of my own teeth. I am not overweight and I dress well, if a tad conservative. But in a competitive environment where I am not just competing with at least 6 other guys for each tolerable female I am also competing with the unreasonable expectations of modern womanhood. My only salvation is in the land of the truly hideous the merely repulsive trumps.
Although I am certainly not quite qualified to play one of Snow White’s companions in pantomime, being a few inches short of six foot appears to preclude me from the specifications of the vast majority of British females (which is apparently all about them wearing high heels). I have definitely lost the bloom of youth, my laughter lines are undeniably wrinkles and the bags under my eyes would hide a company of light infantry.
Financially I am certainly not an attractive proposition so I have to be practical and can not realistically entertain any illusions that I am a wonderful catch. To do so would be a delusion. This is not false modesty or self deprecation but hard nosed pragmatism. <This is the bottom line, I reckon. As a man ages, an empty war chest is more unattractive to women than a beer gut, a lack of fashion sense or even a few rotten teeth – Stick>
In reality the issue of financial security is no longer a vote winner amongst western women, it is now a given. As with Herzberg’s theory of motivation, fiscal solvency is a “hygiene” factor rather than a motivator. That you are solvent is merely a qualifier and their priority is that you are not a burden on them. One should never forget that Briffault’s law always prevails
“The female not the male determines all conditions of the animal family. Where the female can derive no benefit from association with the male no such association takes place.”
Of more significance to me is I probably do not have the wherewithal to attract a Thai woman. I often wish I could find a cure for my obsession with Thai women. The Thai female mindset has “taking care” as a priority. This applies whether she is living in Thailand or you meet her in the UK. Whilst western women are extremely demanding in the selection process once you have passed the test they are quite tolerant. I have however found Thai women remain consistently demanding.
I therefore enter into a relationship with a Thai lady with a fair degree of trepidation
As an aside, the other week I was perusing a couple of internet dating sites and was surprised to come across the profiles of several ladies both English and Thai who had given me the bums rush at some time over the past 10 years. I wasn’t tall enough, I wasn’t good looking enough, or they didn’t like my dress sense were amongst the many reasons I didn’t fit their specifications. I have never indulged in schadenfreude but I could not help taking some pleasure that in the intervening years these fussy ladies had still failed to find the man of their dreams. In fact it gave me so much pleasure it compelled to put my thumbs against my temples, wiggle my fingers and call out Na-na na na- na in an unashamedly childish manner.
Saturday Dee asked if I could give her a lift to her friend’s birthday party on the other side of Dudley. I agreed as I knew a 30-minute car journey would take her almost 3 hours by bus. I told her I would only stay a few minutes as I wanted to watch the baggies play that afternoon but would return for her at 6.00 pm. When we arrive the flat was full of Thai womanhood, most sat around a dining room table heaving with tasty Thai comestibles. There were several chickens torn into chunks, plates of fish cooked in lemon and chillies, and a huge variety of vegetables and sauces. It was a veritable feast. I could not resist sampling the food and found it to be delicious; her friend was truly a gifted cook. The ladies were quite amazed at my tolerance of the fiery offerings and remarked that none of their husbands could eat what I had. After feeding my face for 20 minutes I left to watch the game in my local.
We beat Norwich 2:1 to end our brief barren spell. I returned to the party at 6.00 to find the Thai ladies still eating. On my arrival the host presented me with a chicken and prawn stir fry she had prepared specially for me. To describe it as tasty would be a gross understatement.
I have now been out with Dee a few times but we have never been alone. I fully appreciate how difficult it is for a Thai girl living alone in the UK, having a six year old daughter without any support structure. On the rare occasions when she can get a neighbour to babysit she takes the opportunity to work and earn a few bob. One can only applaud this work ethic and desire for independence, it does however cramp my amorous intentions. One unexpected aspect is her daughter seems to have taken a real shine to me although I am unsure if this is actually to my advantage.
On Christmas Eve after suffering the ordeal of taking my mother supermarket shopping I give Dee a lift into work. As the maitre de was giving her a lift home I didn’t have to worry about later driving in the police infested streets at midnight. Driving her to work was not a great chore that evening as my sons live nearby giving me chance to drop off their cards and presents. Alas my ex English wife was in with her latest bloke. I had hoped to avoid her but fortunately she was quite sociable that evening and I don’t get my usual ear bending.
On the way home I pop my head into the “The Cutpurse and Footpad” pub. It was surprisingly quiet for a Christmas Eve so gave me time to reflect on my progress with Dee. It is very early days but I do have a concern I am already gaining the dreaded appellation “Jai Dee” (good heart) which invariably translates as “soft touch”. I fear I am being perceived as a “friend”. I know from experience that once a woman considers you as a friend the chance to ever get into her knickers completely evaporates. I have made that mistake in the past. I am beginning to really like her but I was already mentally preparing to distance myself as I could see me becoming a mere convenience to her. I was disappointed that I had yet to receive the slightest suggestion of affection. I am not expecting wild passion just the merest indication of interest or a mild fondness.
The test will be next week when her daughter is going to stay with her father for a few days. I am resolved that if I do not see some signal of affection, (even a kiss on the cheek or a touch of her hand) I will know I am wasting my time. I am aware of the cliché that respectable Thai ladies are very conservative and demure. But to employ a fishing metaphor, she needs to bait the hook a little as I am not inclined to throw myself into her metaphorical keep net without the suggestion of a lure. <Mr. Phet, a few words if I may. Women expect men to come on to them. With Thai women, they completely understand men have desires and they will wonder why you have not made the effort to create a situation where you can initiate something. I feel you've been playing nice guy with this lady and some of the ladies in previous submissions for way too long. Honestly, and forgive me for being a wee bit crass here, you need to stick it in them to let them know you want them and desire them! Women want to be wanted. They want to feel craved. Show this woman that and break the bloody drought! There seems to be some sort of obstacle for you to get to first base. Trust me, once you get there, home is just around the corner – Stick>
Christmas day, with my sons having dinner with their mother’s kin and my brother being with the Borg collective that is his girlfriend's family; it fell upon me to spend Christmas with my aged mother. She is rapidly losing her faculties but still manages to function and I keep a daily eye on her. I had offered to take her out for dinner or even dispense with the traditional repast but she is immensely stubborn and insisted on cooking a Christmas dinner. I phoned her at 9.00 AM offering to come around and make the preparations. She dismissed me assuring me she had everything in hand and to come around at 2.00 for dinner. So I used the opportunity to continue my white knight act for Dee and take her to her friend’s house again as requested.
This time Dee told me her home address and invited me around. She has a nice flat that she had kept spotlessly clean. Her daughter was excited to see me and show me what Santa had bought her. Whilst waiting for her mother we did a few puzzles together. It was entertaining for me and quite endearing.
After dropping Dee and her daughter at the friend’s house I went to my mother's to find she had not even taken the chicken out of the fridge. It was 3.00 pm before I got it into the oven. Angry with herself, my mother went into full Martyrdom mode refusing to cook any vegetables or even let me do so. It was 7.00 pm before the chicken was cooked. At suppertime I had a few slices with some bread as my late Christmas dinner.
Boxing Day was the highlight of Christmas for me. My sons come to the flat and after the ubiquitous big breakfast we make our way to the local pub to watch the Albion v QPR game. A 2:1 victory gives Harry Rednapp apoplexy and I have to suck a lemon to take the smile of my face. This result keeps us joint 4th only 2 points adrift of Chelsea in 3rd place. We visit my mother's, I put some frozen chips in the oven, slice the remains of yesterday's chicken and we are suitably fuelled for an evening's drinking. We take a taxi to meet up with my brother and his tribe at the casino. There is a professional karaoke and some good singers in but our mob monopolise the show all evening. It is a good night with a friendly crowd and I drink far too much. At 3.30 we return to my flat and do not surface until midday. I completely write off Thursday.
On Friday I had arranged to take Dee (and daughter) for dinner. She phones me and asks if we can try a different Thai restaurant in her friend’s town as she is inquisitive. I agreed and she later books a table. She also asks if I can also run her into West Bromwich to her bank. I collect them late afternoon. On the way she tells me that two of the older ladies who work in the kitchen at her restaurant appeared interested and had been talking about me. This was news to me so I made no comment. I was quietly pleased however as I thought there is nothing like the thought of a little competition to pique a woman’s interest although I thought she seemed completely indifferent to it.
The restaurant is a more traditional establishment with the obligatory statues, teak carvings and other paraphernalia associated with Thai restaurants. The food is very good but as they clearly cater for the English middle class palette it is a bit mild for my taste. The cost was also more traditional and was a third more than I would pay in my favoured venue. The highpoint of the evening was her daughter squealing with delight at pulling my ears as I carried her on my shoulders back to the car.
On Saturday Albion faced the mighty Man United at Old Trafford. We lost 2:0 but certainly did not disgrace ourselves. As promised I later took Dee into work. She seemed in an odd mood and I just quietly listened to her recital of a discussion amongst the girls she worked with. She also expressed some bizarre and contradictory views about being independent.
I had no idea what she was on about or what she wanted. Thai women often display a perverse logic that is best ignored but when I dropped her off I felt quite deflated. I really had no idea how to move this relationship forward. I have suggested many diversions like taking her dancing, to the cinema or going to hear some music but she tells me she is only interested in eating, a desire I have definitely attempted to satisfy. I was beginning to feel I was merely deluding myself. I could see parallels with my relationship with Noi, another Thai lady last year; in fact it was like déjà vu with regard to the absence of signals of affection. It took me a few months to deduce she was only stringing me on until something better came along, which finally did whilst I was away in China.
On Sunday my brother excused himself from our usual assembly and my son was on girlfriend duty so I was at a loose end. I asked Dee, as her daughter was away if she wanted to go out alone for a drink. She expressed disappointment that I had not mentioned eating so I suggested the casino which has an excellent restaurant. When I collected her she was engaged in a conversation with a friend on her mobile.
20 minutes later I had pulled up outside the casino and she was still on the phone. She told me she didn’t want to go to a casino but wanted to go to Win Yip, a Chinese establishment in Birmingham. I was a little annoyed and said no, I wasn’t going to drive to Birmingham. If she could stay off the phone long enough to eat we would go in the Vine pub just down the road. Actually the Vine has a national reputation for its Indian barbeque. They cook huge steaks and massive chunks of chicken on skewers in a unique Indian style.
Once we were there Dee was mesmerised with the atmosphere and thoroughly enjoyed the food on offer. I often think it is like Thai street food but on a more grandiose scale. She also opened up a little to me. She explained she was in a bitter dispute with her husband for custody of her daughter. She didn’t want him knowing she had been in a casino in case it was used against her in court. She had a strange perception of the British legal system but I understood her rationale.
It also explained why she was so circumspect with me and possibly her reluctance to express any affection to me in front of her daughter. It did however beg the question, why get involved with me in the first place? However when I dropped her home I still did not get even a kiss on the cheek.
New Year's Eve she was working so once again I offered my limousine service. She availed herself to the full even getting me to take her to a local Asian shop to procure strange Asian vegetables and returning them home before taking her to work. The next day she was going to the Buddhist temple in Birmingham and was cooking offerings to take. She asked if I would go with her to the temple and I immediately said no. I knew what these events were like; when Thais get together the farang becomes invisible. I had no desire to be like a spare prick at a wedding being ignored all day. She perseveres with her request which I again refuse. I explain I had no interest in going, at which she threw a little pout. I explain my own annoyance that the relationship seemed very one sided and expressed my disappointment with her for never showing me the slightest affection like just touching my arm occasionally.
I was fooling myself but I hoped she was going to admit she really liked me but was just reluctant to give her husband any ammunition in their dispute. Instead I got the ubiquitous mantra of Thai culture. “Thai lady don’t do like that, it not our culture”. This actually pissed me off but I bit my tongue and said nothing. I had long established that is pure bullshit, it is what they want it to be to fit any prevailing situation to their advantage.
I dropped her off at her restaurant but noticed as she got out the car she did give me a big smile.
I returned home, left the car and took a walk to my local for the New Year festivities. I was a little disappointed that many of my pals were not there. They are such tight-fisted buggers they had been deterred by the £5 admission fee for the evening. There were a lot of youngsters in which meant there was female eye candy to view but I am always amused how much space young men take up in a pub. They can not stand still and seem to oscillate in a 6 foot diameter like excited electrons around an atom. I decided to drink Kronenberg rather than the piss that is Fosters or Carling I usually drink as I feared with my tolerance for alcohol I would not get sufficiently inebriated in the time before the New Year celebrations at midnight.
I recall a couple of years ago drinking with my eldest son in a pub that had run out of Fosters and Carling so began consuming Kronenberg not realising it was a premium strength lager. When we both fell off our bar stools we decided in future to give it due respect.
By 11.30 I was comfortably drunk so I left the pub and walked to my mother’s house to see in the New Year with her.
New year's day marks the end of the Christmas period and probably the end of my Christmas “almost” romance. I could return to my solitary existence or I can continue taking Dee (and her daughter) to dinner once a week and providing the occasional taxi service. I can just accept this is probably the only way I am going to have a relationship with an attractive Thai woman 17 years my junior, chaste though it is. Although I really do like this lady and her daughter I am unsure what to do. I have no one else on my dance card and although I am not optimistic I will just go with the flow for a time and see if anything develops.
The alternative is always finding a 65-year old white woman, running her to the doctors and her hospital appointments or waiting to collect her from Bingo twice a week.
All in all 2012 was not a bad year for me. I had 11 submissions posted on the Stick site. The work assignment in China was the year's highlight and the two visits to Thailand each side of it were much enjoyed and documented. I had a pleasant and lucrative couple of days on a project in Northern Germany and embarked on a new career in teaching a subject I know. I saw a resolution to my long running dispute with the benefits office. A judge found in my favour, and they can not recover the £12k from me and the threat of further criminal action is removed.
What does the New Year 2013 present? I have a week’s work every month on the Cumbria contract until July and another day per week teaching on the Diploma course at the local college. With additional days contracted for the preparation of learning materials I can scrape a living for the next 6 months. I can foresee this being supplemented by further training contracts around the country as the industry slowly wakes up to its skill shortage. I may have found a degree of stability in my life and you may even find I am becoming contented.
For a bloke who has always found comfort in being a miserable old git this is quite a disturbing experience.
You ought to consider a more direct approach with Dee. My suggestion would be to shed your British gentlemanly persona as it's clearly holding you back. Be much more direct! Knowing Thai women, I just don't see your approach working with the vast majority of Thai women and I think being more direct will pay dividends.