Readers' Submissions

Why I Stopped Joking Around With Thai Women




One Monday morning my wife and I had a big fight, which is how we started every morning. I drove to work and the traffic was horrendous, which is how the traffic was every morning. I walked into the hotel where I was working sticky with sweat and angry at the world, which is how I walked into the hotel every morning.

This particular Monday morning Noina was behind the front desk. Noina was only 19 years old, the most junior member of the front office staff, and it was unusual for her to be alone behind the desk. There was nobody else in the lobby. Noina was obviously pleased to be in charge that morning; her beautiful face was lit up by a 50-megawatt smile. Noina looked like a living anime character. She had enormous breasts that bobbed around like they were filled with helium, a waist so narrow you could put one fist around it, a plump round ass in a skirt that just barely covered her pubes, and legs as long as telephone poles. She balanced on six-inch heels and the tips of her big toes. She always spoke in a voice that made everything she said sound like “I’m ready for my spanking now!”

Her eyes were as big as hubcaps and were all deep brown iris; they shot out beams of innocence and she said to me, “Goot morning, Khun Sah-teef!” She was no more than six months out of the village, the poster child for virginity. She had rose petal lips and a seashell-pink tongue that was yet to taste a man. When I walked into the lobby that morning and she plugged in that smile all the anger of that rotten morning just melted right out of me, replaced by an overpowering urge to lift her up onto the front desk and stick my head up under that Saran-Wrap skirt.

Of course I didn’t. I really needed that job. Instead I threw her a joke. I said, “Noina, how would you like to come with me to America?”

Her dazzling smile didn’t waver. “What you say, Khun Sah-Teef?”

“Come with me to America, Noina. Let’s run away together. Let me show you the pleasure domes of Iowa. We’ll picnic in the soya bean fields, we’ll build a home among the hog yards and make lots of happy fat Democratic babies. What do you say? Will you come with me my angel, my paragon, my darling?” That is actually how I talked in those days.

She pursed her delectable lips, tipped her adorable head to the side and a single inch-long furrow appeared in her toffee brow. I laughed like Cyrano and skipped off to the dining room and ordered coffee. I thought no more of it.

But Noina thought of it. That night she went home after work and told her mother that one of the rich farang who worked at the hotel had invited her to be his mia noi. He had offered a trip to America. Mother asked if he’d offered anything else: gold jewelry, a car, an apartment. No, just the trip. Noina had met my wife Mem many times, and apparently she thought it was perfectly reasonable that I’d be looking for a minor wife. Her mother decided that it would be best for Noina to stay in the hotel and wait for a better offer. She was young, there would be plenty more offers.

That should have been the end of it, except that Noina and our maid that month (Mem could never keep a maid longer than a month) happened to come from the same village. On Tuesday Noina’s mother had gone to the village market and bragged to all the market ladies that the fat farang with the beard and glasses had asked her daughter to be his mia noi. Tuesday evening our maid went home and the market ladies told her how her boss had propositioned the little girl who lived down the lane. She came back to work on Wednesday and told my wife, probably hoping to earn some points with the Mistress. I came home from work that evening to find my wife, maid and two infant children gone to parts unknown. They had not returned home by nightfall. I didn’t know if they were dead or alive.

I feared abduction, I imagined bloody automobile accidents on Phuket’s abattoir roads. On Thursday I did not go to work. I got a police officer pal to canvas the emergency rooms and morgues. I made phone calls to the hotels where Mem had worked before we were married, talked to everybody whose name I could remember. On Friday I was still sitting in our kitchen, staring at the phone, smoking too many cigarettes and praying for my children. I had decided they were sprawled dead in a roadside ditch somewhere.

At about dinner time Mem called me from her Daddy’s house in Ranong. She hated her father; it had never occurred to me to phone home. She asked me when Noina and I would be leaving for America. I explained that it was a joke, just a damned joke, why was she taking it so seriously?

“Oh, you think this is a joke?” she answered. Then she hung up.

I drove to Ranong. It takes five hours to drive to Ranong from Phuket. I got to her father’s house at midnight and they wouldn’t let me in. I slept in my car in the driveway. The mosquitoes ate me alive. In the morning her sister and three of her brothers arrived with their families. We all gathered in the living room. Daddy was sitting in his big chair, on the table next to him was the old cigar box in which he kept his pistol. The brothers were already drinking.

I apologized for my bad joke and asked if she’d please bring the kids home. She asked me if I’d brought her anything. Anything made of gold. Of course I hadn’t, I left the house after dark, shopping was not on my mind. So I spent Saturday treating her family to lots of food and whiskey and losing money at cards without complaining. I let the youngest brother take my car and go joyriding around the province with his buddies. He brought the car back with puke sprayed down the driver’s side door. It was understood that it was my job to clean the car.

That night I was allowed to sleep on Daddy’s living room floor and Sunday I drove my little family back to Phuket. I dropped them off at the house and went on into Phuket Town, to Montri Road, where the gold shops were located.

I was in big trouble at the hotel for taking the weekend off without notice. It was high season and hotel staff work seven days a week through the high season. But when I walked into the lobby on Monday morning Noina gave me another one of her sexy/innocent smiles.

It scared the living shit out of me.