The Legend of the Easy Good Girl
“So I told my mate, I said we gotta be callous if we’re gonna do this thing.”
I thought buying the virginity of a teenager was pretty callous to begin with, but when he repeated it I realized that Nigel was saying, in his ocker accent, that he thought they should be “careless,” and not use condoms. I considered it and decided that I agreed: taking a woman’s virginity while wearing a condom seemed a sad idea somehow.
“So the pimp shows up at our room with these two cute little Sheila’s, and their ID cards said they were 18. The girls are shoving these big red apples into their mouths. I mean, they’re chomping into these things and the juice is running down their chins and they’re chewin’ as fast as they can, like they’re ‘fraid somebody’s gonna take the apples away.” Nigel stretched and leaned forward and loaded the bong again.
“That’s what the girls got out of it, ya see? Apples are rare upcountry, a real treat. So the pimp gets a couple thousand baht, which he splits with the girls’ parents, me an’ me mate get the girls’ cherries, and the girls get apples. Everybody’s happy.” He took a long bubbly toke and leaned back against the wall of his bungalow. We were sitting outside on the platform he called his porch. The bungalow was a plywood box on stilts, the last in a line of five or six that ran up the hill from the Coconut Restaurant to the chain link fence that separated the scruffy side of Nai Harn Beach from the Phuket Yacht Club. Nigel’s “porch” was about ten feet away from the balcony of the easternmost room on the third floor of the Yacht Club. Sometimes a rich tourist would be on his balcony and Nigel would shout across, “Oy! Mate! Ya mind me askin’, whatcha paid for ya room?”
Nigel knew they were paying thousands of baht per night. He only asked so he could tell them he was paying ten baht a day. Then he would lean back against his plywood wall and look out at the sea, grin at the tourist and say, “Nice view, aint it?”
Nigel was my first friend on Phuket and my first pot connection there. In 1988 spent a lot of time on his porch smoking outrageously good Cambodian weed and listening to him spin yarns about his life in Thailand. In those days there was not much else to do on Phuket before the sun went down. Nigel had been part of a group of friends who pooled their high school graduation money to put in the first water slide in Australia. They were very successful but Nigel didn’t like the life of a businessman so he cashed in his chips and surfed his way around the world, finally washing up on Phuket on his way back home. He lived with a bar girl who I thought was beautiful. She obviously thought the sun shone out of Nigel’s ass. She would literally run down the hill to buy him cigarettes if he ran out. He told me once, “Been with her six years, and never paid her a dime, Mate. Never gave her so much as a cracker.” Being a newbie, I believed it. And when he told me the Legend of the Easy Good Girl, I believed that, too.
“Look, Mate,” he said. “All these girls ya see in the shops, they’re all fresh outa the boonies. They’ve had lives dull as dirt and they want a little excitement. They’re away from Mom and Dad and the family and nobody at home knows what they’re doin’. They think all white men are gorgeous, and they think we’re all filthy rich, so of course they would love to have a white boyfriend. Mate, we can go down to Ocean Department Store right now, walk up to the cosmetics counter, and in five minutes we’ll have dates for tonight. They get off work at five, you’ll have your dick in her by five thirty. Guaranteed.”
Of course, we never did get off our stoned asses and go down to Ocean Department Store, but if you’re a man, you know why I believed him. I believed him because I really, really wanted that story to be true. Men have a biological urge to touch what has never been touched. We all want to defile purity. The beauty of the prostitute is that anybody can have her, but that’s also her blemish. The bars of Thailand are giant magnets and all the losers of the world are iron filings. The scumbags litter the bars and brothels like plastic bags litter the gutters, and you know that without a doubt however pretty, however young, however wide-eyed is the bargirl, one of the dregs of humanity was shoving his cock in her mouth last night. There’s no way a human being isn’t going to be damaged by that.
And at our very roots, we all want to be the one doing the damage. We are men, and being a man means you defile women. You take that nice, pristine piece of paper the teacher hands you and you smear your finger paint all over it. You cut across a snowy field just so you can look back at your tracks and feel smug. You break her heart, you make her bleed. Ideally, you’re the only man she’s ever had, so she can’t compare you to anybody else. If she’s not a virgin then hopefully she’s only a step or two removed. Nurses in white, brides in white, schoolgirls in braids and clean white panties. We want purity so that we can be the ones to make it impure. We don’t want to kiss a girl if we know that last night a fat, sweaty, drunken tourist creamed on her face.
Dr. Hannibal Lechter says, “We covet that which we see every day.” For the foreign heterosexual man who lives alone in Thailand, the coveted thing is the Good Girl. Waitresses, shop girls, girls on buses, girls on the sidewalk. Anybody who does not look like a hooker. Once you take two steps off of Soi Cowboy, Thailand is chock full of beautiful women who are not hookers. And since they are Thai, they smile at men. They flirt. They giggle and fondle and caress. Every woman loves to tease, and in Thailand the spirit of sanuk makes it even more fun, but here’s the thing: Most of these women would never, not in a million years, consider actually having a relationship with a foreigner. Of course Thai women, like women everywhere, play the long game. They don’t begin a relationship without at least considering its conclusion in marriage. And unless you’re going to take your new wife overseas, or you live in a tiny village where everybody knows you, a Thai woman who goes anywhere in Thailand with a foreign man will be treated like a hooker.
My ex-wife and I once went to the library on Phuket. This was before the internet came to Thailand so when I did research for articles I did it in the public library, which had a fair collection of old reference books left behind by generations of missionaries. So this one time my wife goes with me. We walk in, a librarian looks up, gives us a shocked expression, and tells Mem in extremely rude Thai, “You can’t come in here!”
We got that from taxi drivers and desk clerks and bureaucrats at the telephone exchange. Every expatriate male married to a Thai woman has had similar encounters. Most Thai women do not want to spend their lives explaining to waitresses and taxi drivers that they are not hookers, so most Good Girls will not consider dating a foreigner. On top of the social stigma, we have terrible manners, eat ridiculous foods, listen to incomprehensible music, speak Thai like children and smell like farm animals. Good Girls might go for coffee with a foreigner, just for the novelty of it, or to a movie just to brag to their girlfriends. But sex? With a farang? Nakriet!
But all us fat, sweaty, awkward farang men wish for it, so the Legend of the Easy Good Girl lives on. Old Hands will sit around the bar and seek attention from newbies by describing, with utterly straight faces, how college students sell sex for tuition money, or how there’s this place downtown where the actresses you see every night on the TV sell themselves.
If you hang out in the bars on the beach you’ll hear stories about enormous fish caught on a safety pin and a bit of dental floss. Some guy will tell you how he surfed a thirty-foot curl from one end of Bondi Beach to the other. When the stories of Bigfoot sightings and alien abductions have been exhausted, and somebody has sworn to God that a friend of his woke up in a Hong Kong hotel room bathtub full of ice without his kidneys, some old-timer will start in on the Legend of the Easy Good Girl. Another will chime in with, “I knew a bloke once, had these two laundry gals, twins they were and nymphos the both of them…”
But it’s all just pipe dreams. That’s all it was when Nigel and I were smoking dope on his porch, feeling superior to the rich tourists next door, and that’s all it is now. There never was a pure white whale for Ahab to stick his harpoon into, and there’s no pretty, innocent, unthreatening school girl out there looking for a foreign man to stain her sheets. The Easy Good Girl is only as real as a unicorn that eats rainbows and farts butterflies. She’s a pretty dream but eventually we all have to wake up.