Readers' Submissions

Sympathy For The Devil

  • Written by Starky
  • February 14th, 2014
  • 13 min read



" I've spent a lifetime looking for you, Single bars and good time lovers never true. Playing a fools game hoping to win, telling those sweet lies and losing again. I was looking for love in all the wrong places, looking for love in too many faces. Searching your eyes looking for traces, Of what… I'm dreaming of…." Johnny Lee, "Looking for love."

Before we kick off, first and foremost a big thank you to all the people that have gone out of their way to write to me. It is quite humbling and rather impressive to me that so many have read my ramblings and taken the time and trouble to write me personally. Even more surprising is that the overwhelming majority of you tend to, mostly, agree with what it is I have to say. The whole point of an open forum is that everyone gets to have their say and love me or hate me I will keep on hacking away regardless but it is nice to know that quite a lot of people feel as I do.

On with the submission. The above lyrics really are a perfect introduction and the song could have been written about Thailand. In this one I am going to put up a defense for something I love dearly and is very near to my heart, namely the humble bargirl. A lot of people have a lot of things to say about bargirls and I think too much is derogatory. So I have decided in my infinite wisdom to give all the "working girls" of Thailand a bit of a chop out. A decent amount of people like to demonise the bargirl and lay all the blame for the bad things that have happened to them squarely at their feet. I believe that there are two sides to every story. That bargirls are not the vampyrric harpies, trying to suck the life and wallet dry of every farang they ever meet, that some would have you believe. In a lot of cases too, I feel, the person bagging the bargirl, would for the most part, have the advantages of being far better educated, more worldly, significantly more wealthy, had way many more opportunities in their life and therefore really should have been old enough, and wise enough to know better.

I guess that in a lot of my submissions I may come across as a little harsh but this is why I can relate to bargirls. The place I grew up in Sydney was a long way from the best neighbourhood. For most of my young life I was raised in a housing commission flat surrounded by people that grew up in the school of hard knocks. Most of my friends and associates and their families hit the ground running and quickly could distinguish a mug from a mark and could see a rort coming from a mile away. Truth be told most of what I have learnt about life and how to live it wasn't taught in a classroom. So I guess it would be fair to say I have known and associated with an assortment of, let's say, shady characters. These were not cruel or evil people and would be the first to pass the hat around if someone was in trouble. They would also be the first to have your back if the chips were down. They weren't mugs though and didn't suffer fools gladly. They did what they did to survive and to put food on the table. When you grow up poor sometimes it really is by any means necessary. Which is why I can empathise with those that have a strong survival instinct. The majority aren't ruthless; most are just doing their best with the hand they have been dealt.

The same with bargirls, just as with the people I grew up with. Bargirls run the gamut of personalities. Yes they are tough little cookies in a tough industry and I don't agree with some that would say that it is an easy way for a lazy girl to make quick money. If you think it is perhaps you could go and fxxk someone who is significantly older, less attractive, overweight, drunk and possibly affected by drugs and I imagine not too infrequently abusive, than yourself for less than a hundred bucks. Do that for a while and then get back to me about how "easy" you thought it was. Ah, but the naysayers will proclaim she chose to do it. Yes! she did and she continues to be there, but for a lot of these girls they could never have the same opportunities at home and to make the sort of money that they could in bars is unfathomable. Sure she could work in the fields or 7-11 or some similar menial job for 200 baht a day (my apologies, it has just recently increased to a whopping 300 baht a day) and many would say that is the honourable path to take. I however mostly disagree. I guess (and Stick can correct me here) that the girls, particularly from Isaan, have a somewhat similar story. At the age of around 18 and I guess tragically for some much younger, she is about to leave her village for the first time. She is 43 kg dripping wet. She probably already has a baby at home that Somchai banged into her at a young age drastically reducing her options even further. She has virtually no formal education and little knowledge of life outside the village. If she has the misfortune of being the eldest daughter she now also carries the burden of supporting her family, while her brother tools around on a motorbike getting drunk and trying to knock up other young girls in the village thereby reducing their chances in life as well. So she gets off the bus with about hopefully 500 baht in her kick and has to find food, accommodation and a way to make an earn as quickly as possible. A vast majority of which (if she does the right thing) she will have to send home. When she gets off the bus she will know few people, have even fewer true friends and the people watching out for her well-being will be essentially zero. She goes to the bars and the rest is history. Probably a little melodramatic, and obviously nowhere near everybody's story, but you get my drift. So yeah, they probably are more than a little hardened and jaded but surely you would not expect anything less. They work in the sex industry! Anyone that has had the pleasure of meeting sex workers in Australia or some other parts of the world can tell you by comparison the Thais are angels (won't go into details but a street smart girl from up "the Cross" would eat a bargirl for breakfast and as for the game, has her in spades). As I said though, bargirls and sex workers everywhere still run the gamut of personalities. There are some cunning ones, some crafty ones, some nasty ones, some drunken or drug-addicted ones but there are also still a lot of very nice, humble, affectionate, loving, caring women getting around that haven't been totally ruined by their lifestyle and are just doing what they can to get ahead for themselves and their family. By the same token I don't think all bargirls want a 2 million baht home, 50 rai of rubber up in the village, 10 baht of gold and a new car. I imagine there are a lot of Stickmanites whose wives and girlfriends are more than happy with a small dwelling and a modest amount of money to help support their family and are truly thankful that they have been taken out of the industry. Again Yes! there are some very hungry girls with unrealistic expectations, but hell, when I was a kid I wanted a Ferrari, a mansion in Rose Bay and a high flying job. I ended up with a Hilux, a condo and a job that forces me to fly a lot, so go figure. At some point we all learn to adjust our dreams and expectations with our reality.

I would say in my opinion that most bargirls are fairly honest as well. She may try and get you to buy a million ladies drinks for her and everyone she has ever known at every opportunity. Your wallet, phone and other valuables though are safe as houses. Try that with some Aussie prossies. Reminds me of the time I was sampling what the windows had to offer in Amsterdam's red light district. Found a Euro beauty and in I went. The couch she led me to looked like it had seen more pricks than a second hand dartboard, so I decided to do the business standing up, dropped the pants, away we go. Long story short, I looked down and there is some bloke going through my strides while I'm on the job. With me in them! Cheeky bugger. So I blew up a storm, got my money back and beat a hasty retreat. If you think Thais are hard, you don't want to play with Europeans, especially those from the East. Forget about old mate trying to rob me, it was 60 € for 25 minutes or 100 € for 50 – you couldn't even get an hour! Which by the way was around $170 Aussie dollars back then. Nearly 5,000 baht for 50 minutes, and that was 6 years ago! Think about that the next time you are having a whinge about whether or not to give Miss World in that gogo bar 3 or 4 thousand long time. Another point in favour of my beloved bargirl. Same again with later on in the relationship, if you have one, she will try it on but it is hard to lose what hasn't freely been given, and if you ever give a bargirl in Thailand more than you can afford to lose or walk immediately away from, then more fool you.

So what of the poor John whose heart was broken or lost a substantial amount of his savings? You don't understand love and what it is like, Starky. It makes you do stupid things. Unfortunately in the West we have a highly romanticised and idealised view of love and marriage. I would suggest though that if you have walked into a beer bar or gogo primarily to find love, that you should put your drink down immediately, walk outside and never return. I don't believe in fairy tales and neither should you! She sure as hell isn't Snow White and you ain't Prince Charming, mate. Did you really think little <insert bargirl's name here> was waiting specifically for you to ride up on your white horse in your shiny suit of armour and take her away from "all this"? There is no Dragon and no Wicked Witch (probably is an ugly step-sister though) and she IS NOT waiting to be rescued. In all reality she is probably far harder than you are and as Stick has stated if she is a top end earner, in real terms she could be substantially financially better off than you. Spend some time with her, get to know her and make some honest, sober, realistic claims of what you can and can not provide for her and her family though and you might be pleasantly surprised and infinitely happy. Others would say as well that bargirls are overly greedy or expect too much. Well for any of you who are familiar with the case of 27-year old Kirsty Hinze and her marriage to 67-year old millionaire Jim Clark or the even more farcical 26-year old Anna Nicole Smith and her marriage to the fossil like 89-year old oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall and countless other wealthy men for that matter, for most men yearn to be with younger women, would quickly realise that Thai bargirls are far from having the monopoly on chasing a dollar. To both girls' credit though they honestly stated it had nothing to do with the money and they both just genuinely felt a connection to older men…. PLEASE! For those of you that have been truly conned or taken on the long game however I am genuinely sorry for you. The kicker being I still state you are only a mug if you allow yourself to be. Learn the game and how to play it. In the same way I get a giggle from people that send money to Africa to release their huge inheritance that has just suddenly been discovered overseas. I would say surely, in most cases, that you must have seen the writing on the wall or you should have known better. I guess a lot of people would now be thinking I am somewhat cynical. I, however, consider myself to be a realist and take each case on its individual merits. Honestly, most of the time I am surprised that so many would be allowed to let themselves be duped in that fashion, but that's just me. My life is actually fantastic and continues to be on a daily basis so believe me when I say I have no reason to be either bitter or cynical. On a side note, sure it sucks to get rorted or have your heart broken. You will bounce back, we all do. It's your ability to deal with adversity that defines you as a person. If you get dirty on the world or search for someone to blame for all the bad shit that happens then you will turn out very bitter and miserable indeed. I think a film was made once about a rich, worldly, older man saving a down on her luck hooker with a heart of gold, starring Richard Gere if memory serves. Actually though, now I think about it, I believe it was a work of fiction and not in any way based on real events.

End of the day, life is far too short to be taken too seriously and if getting your heart broken is the worst thing that has happened to you, or you've lost a fair chunk of change, well you are doing considerably better than those that have had to face real tragedy. To pooh-pooh a bargirl, or any girl for that matter for the fact that you have loved and lost is pretty poor form, surely at least, some portion of the blame must lie with you. Especially a bargirl. Before you judge too quickly however, give the bargirls a little bit of credit. For mine, on the whole, considering what most of them have seen and done they are pretty good natured souls and not wicked or vindictive or even much more materialistic or overly greedy than many other women in the world. You know, glass houses and throwing stones and all that. For my final word I will leave you with some of my favourite lyrics from the immortal Monty Python who say it much better than I ever could

"For life is quite absurd
And death's the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow
Forget about your sin – give the audience a grin
Enjoy it – it's your last chance anyhow
So always look on the bright side of death
A-just before you take your terminal breath
Life's a piece of shit when you look at it
Life's a laugh and deaths a joke it's true
You'll see it's all a show! Keep 'em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you."


Cheers,

Thanks for your time.

Starky