Why I Gave Up Internet Dating – Epilogue
It’s a while since I wrote the last in the serialised ‘Why I Gave up Internet Dating’, so some readers may be wondering whatever became of my quest to find ‘Ideal or Dream Woman’. Judging by the many emails that I received, it would appear that there are many males of a comparable age finding themselves with similar tales of woe and frustration to tell. That’s one of the brilliant things about the Sad Old Tossers (SOT) club – it has global membership !
It therefore occurred to me that an epilogue was perhaps called for to report on what happened after what I refer to as my ‘Lost Period’.
Looking back at the events that overtook me during that time, when I believe I lost all sense of coherent rationality, proportion and direction. In retrospect I am amazed and hugely embarrassed at some of the things I said, did, half-considered and half-embarked on. I am horrified at what I had become and the depths I had sunk to in what was a fruitless and wasted search. As sanity slowly returned and equipped with the extremely accurate hind-sight knowledge of Internet Dating (ID), I found myself staring down the abyss of the awfulness that is one of the phenomena of the 21st century.
Oh, I had been cautioned, but stupidly ignored, the warnings that there was potentially a high emotional cost (nobody warned me about the real financial cost – of travel, dinners etc) to ID. I was however assured that with perseverance and dedication there was indeed a prize at the end of the rainbow that would make the misery of the journey worthwhile.
Well I have good news and bad news for all Sad Old Tossers (SOT) members. First the bad – that’s all a load of crap … there is no prize in the form of the ideal or dream woman at the end of The Yellow Brick Road and its rainbow to heaven !
However before moving on, a few words of caution …
The reality is that as we western men, age and begin to enter our ‘Autumn Years’, if we are honest with ourselves and realise in our heart of hearts that we are never going to find our ideal/dream woman in the western world. Surprisingly the male ego and sex drive rarely actually cuts off – well why should it ? My generation grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s – a generation of free love, flower power, The Vietnam war, The Beatles and Rolling Stones. Some of us have been divorced, married or entered into a relationship late in life … and for most of us the physical side of the relationship is still important.
Maybe we don’t want to swing from the chandeliers EVERY night, but now and again that would be nice. But let’s be realistic, sex does change when you become older. When you were young you could have frequent sex anywhere and everywhere, but now the shouts of “aahs” and “Oh My God”, are probably brought about by cramp or heartburn, rather than sexual desire ! You now realise why it’s called ‘the missionary position’ – you’re praying you can get up afterwards. These days ‘safe sex’ is not falling out of bed !
Some of you may remember the American comedy show, The Golden Girls, when one of them placed a mirror on the table and advised her sex mad housemate to look down into it. “That is what you look like from below. Never, ever go on top.”
In the popular The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movie, one of the pensioners questioned her male pensioner neighbour about the wisdom of having strenuous sex with a much younger women. He responded, with a shrug: “If she dies, she dies”. Sadly I suspect few of us have that stamina any more.
So what’s the good news ? There is indeed a god and salvation is at hand for all members of the SOT Club … it’s called Asia. We have this ever-available and relatively easily accessible option to fall back on, and given our age it’s probably the most sensible option of all.
So as Phet mentioned in one of his submissions, after the disastrous experiences with western women, I too resolved to concentrate my energies on Asian women.
So as I sit here on this beautifully white stretch of beach overlooking a tropical Thai island seascape in the Andaman Sea, sipping my bitterly cold Singha beer. I look across at the beautifully smooth brown curves of Lin, my time-share girlfriend of some 8 or 9 years now; she smiles at me and says, “we go eat now – I hungry?” I have long given up trying to understand a Thai woman’s need for constant sustenance and now in response, I just smile … and marvel at the prodigious amounts of food they can consume at any one sitting.
A few words about Lin. I have never been asked by her for money to treat the sick water buffalo. Even having previously met her aged and sick Mother I have never been asked for funds to support her or build a residence to house the population of a small Thai city. Nor I would like to think, would I have fallen into the trap of having given it. A wise soul once said to me that if one ever becomes involved with an Asian woman, then they should be an unmarried, childless orphan – judicious advice indeed ! Although Lin has a brother and sister, they both fortunately work at what appears to be reasonably respectable jobs in Bangkok. Admittedly and predictably when we go out for a meal with them, I as the farang, do end up paying, surprisingly alcohol free.
I believe however that we provide one other with support in other ways. She provides me with what I need during my regular two or three annual trips to The Land of Smiles. She keeps me out of the bars, probably saves me a lot of money, face by having gratuitous and unsatisfying sex with strange and uncaring women. I in turn, provide her with benefits in the form of meals, hotels, air fares when we travel, companionship, some pleasantly comfortable and familiar sex; the occasional low cost gift, (but never gold, which I am aware does have a calming effect on Thai womanhood !) but probably more importantly, respect and respectability. There has never been the suggestion of a monthly stipend to support her or her family, all of whom I have met on several occasions.
She refers to herself as my Thai wife, an appellation that I am quite comfortable with, as we genuinely get on well together, have lots of fun, and enjoy one another’s company. Noticing our comfortable familiarity with each other most strangers tend to see us as an old married couple. We have over the years travelled quite extensively throughout Thailand, both to the north and to the southern islands. It is one of lesser known islands in the Trang archipelago, Koh Ngai, where I now sit writing this piece. Although somewhat of a mission to get to, involving a flight and then a ferry, the arrival is more than worthwhile with its white sandy beaches, sloping gently into the warm, crystalline waters of the Andaman Sea. We are staying in a low-cost, but comfortable beach cottage, where the cares of the world have seemingly passed us by. Of an evening there are some low-key restaurants and bars, serving the freshest seafood – a major plus for any Thai woman ! Perhaps not paradise lost, but in my book it runs a pretty close second.
One of the problems that some European males have with a Thai woman is that they complain that they typically have little in common, lack reasonable intellectual conversation or stimulation. To generalise, this is probably true to a large extent. However to my good fortune Lin has a natural curiosity about the world around her, reads the newspaper everyday and prides herself on being aware of what is happening in the world around her. Importantly with her excellent English, is able to have a sensible and meaningful conversation about what is going on in the world. Also thankfully she is not hooked on those dreadful Thai TV soap operas.
So how did I meet her all those years ago ? It was in a small Thai restaurant near Soi 24. when I had a brief 3-day layover in Bangkok en-route from Viet Nam. Having not much to do with my days, apart from perhaps partaking of one too many beers in Soi 4, I decided to take a walk up Sukhumvit. Becoming hungry around lunchtime I happened upon what I perceived to be a reasonably interesting small restaurant. Taking a seat out of the heat and humidity of the Bangkok hustle and bustle, I asked if they had Tiger – a beer that I had been drinking in Saigon. Lin, was the waitress and responded in excellent English, which was a huge surprise to me. We got to talking and I asked where she had learned such good English (she is surprisingly as literate in written English as well) to which she had replied that she had spent a year or so in Europe. Well needless to say, one thing led to another – and the rest is history as they say.
She is in fact not Thai but Lao, originating from a small nameless village near the town of Nongkhai on the banks of The Mekong, with its famous Wat Khaek park, featuring giant concrete sculptures, its 7 headed serpent decorated entrance and gardens – just south of the Thai/Lao border.
My one and only trip, “to meet the family” was worthy of note and bears regaling the reader with. We had arrived in Nongkhai and checked into a local hotel (she was keen that we were not to stay with the family and for which i was thankful) in the morning and were awaiting the arrival of the family, due sometime that afternoon.
Surprisingly early, I was in due course summonsed to the front of the hotel, where the ubiquitous Isuzu pick-up had arrived from which many smiling bodies poured. Judging by the number of souls disembarking I reasoned that this was one of those clown-cars that one sees at the circus that transports the population of a medium-sized metropolitan city into the arena. As embarrassed as I was, with my nonexistent Thai and Lao, I greeted what I think was the whole crew.
We all piled back into the pick-up and set off out of the city and into what appeared to me to be some seriously off-the-beaten track countryside, passing through several unmarked small villages. After some miles, we turned off onto a dirt track/road. At this stage of the proceedings I do have to admit to becoming a tad worried starting to have some misgivings as to the wisdom of the trip. My life was now completely in the hands of whom I took to be Lin’s Father, driving us ever-deeper into uncharted Thai countryside. Although normally having a reasonable sense of direction, I had absolutely no idea where the hell I was, and disturbingly, had also lost track of either time or distance. I began to compose my epitaph to distract my mind off my increasingly bruised kidneys and bum, concerned that nobody apart from Lin and her family actually knew where I was.
We finally arrived into what seemed to be a medium-sized farm village, with the houses all built in the traditional Thai style and were ushered into one of the larger houses, which I assumed was Lin’s family home. In the distance I could hear some traditional Morlam music – personally I have never been a great fan of this or the music of Isaan. Giggling children appeared out of the woodwork, women stopped to stare and gape at the farang. Although Lin’s family was by Thai standards reasonable small, merely Father, Mother, brother, sister and her, the arrival of a farang into the village had obviously sparked a lot of interest and curiosity!
Her family was welcoming in the extreme, gracious, hospitable, and funny. Her ageless Grandmother (of totally interminable age) appeared to have the hots for me, seating herself beside me and alarmingly kept grabbing my leg! She also evidently kept telling Lin that she should marry me and that the sin sot would be easily affordable by one such as I. Mind you the way she was demolishing the 2 bottles of Johnny Walker that at Lin’s insistence I had purchased that morning before leaving town may have had something to do with her enthusiasm. Lacking any bottled water in the house, I had to make do with helping Granny finish off the whisky.
Needless to say there was copious amounts of food, much laughter and chatter. Although not really following the conversations that ebbed and flowed, Lin translated at least some of the more obvious comments that were passed about me. As it became dark I was beginning to become concerned that we would have to spend the night in the village. Fortunately Lin was not comfortable in staying over with her folks, so it was agreed that ‘Dad’ would take us back to town and that the family would join us for lunch in town on the morrow. So after a hundred goodbyes and assurances of an early return, we piled back into the trusty Isuzu for the trip back to town. The return journey was even more hair-raising for me, as much whisky had been consumed by all, plus like the outbound trip, I was completely unaware of our direction – made worse by the now utter darkness.
However miraculously we made it back to our hotel in Nongkhai … my epitaph would have to wait.
So that it the story of my trip to the provinces. Looking back on it now a few years later, I do feel privileged to have had that very local interaction and experience of Thai/Lao village life, albeit for merely an extended afternoon. But like so many trips we have taken together, having a local as a travel companion and partner, one does get to see a very different aspect of local life. There have been numerous days out and trips where without Lin I would never have had the experiences or seen half the things that I have in Thailand.
Lin is in her late 40’s now, and as an older woman, is not a big drinker, although given the right circumstances and ambience you certainly can’t frighten her with drink or two. Importantly for me she is a non-smoker, does not do drugs and nor does she have the typical Thai female pre-dereliction with material things – well maybe she does like to have a good wardrobe ! Also she is thankfully Tattoo free – that being a massive turn-off for me.
And as mentioned previously, she also fits the ideal Asian profile of never having been married, to either a Thai or a farang, nor does she have any children.
When dressed up in the Little Black Number, she is to put it mildly, quite stunningly ravishing. She is also tactile and affectionate towards me. It is perhaps the latter that I enjoy most of all, the casual laying of a hand on my shoulder whilst we talk, a hand on my body in bed at night – just to say “all is right in her world”.
On my departure from my regular Thailand trips, I always slip a good few thousand Baht into her handbag, which she has the good grace not to check – until after my departure I assume !
Although one is obviously never sure what these girls get up to on ones absence. I don’t kid myself and feel that the fact that I never question her on the topic, (at the end of the day it’s really not my concern) goes in some small way to demonstrate my respect for her. A couple of weeks prior to my arrival, I always give her notice, allowing her sufficient time to clear her schedule – again another small sign of the respect that I have for her. I would like to believe that these small gestures are appreciated by her. The fact that she always greets me with genuine joy and pleasure, hopefully says that she looks forward to my trips.
So starting where we came in. Are Lin and I an ‘item’, no I don’t think so; she is an attractive, warm, affectionate and attentive companionable woman of whom I am very fond. But do I want to marry her – absolutely not … that would potentially spoil a wonderful relationship. With our mutual agreement, the current status-quo will hopefully continue indefinitely.
My previous experience with Internet dating, along with male/female relationships have taught me that there is in fact much merit in being single. The few exciting women that I have met and wanted to spend more time with were few and far between, perhaps for all the reasons outlined in this epilogue. The steady, reliable, always there ones that would look after me, do the laundry and have a 3 course dinner on the table when I returned from work were boring in the extreme, thus holding no attraction for me.
Like a third of the UK population I have therefore resigned myself to the ‘fate’ of staying single. Selfishly I have learned that being on one’s own is not such a dreadful position to be in, I can go where I like, do what I like, meet who I like, don’t have to share the TV remote. I can jump on a plane to anywhere my heart takes me – have an adventure, meet new people, which although perhaps sometimes lonely is rarely dull or boring. I am able to stay in less than 4 or 5 star accommodation if necessary – a Western madam would never accept that ! As a singleton, I don’t have to cook for myself – I don’t have to waste time or money on gourmet meals for one, and can go down the pub on a whim.
Being single means I have freedom – I can live life at my pace. I do not have to consider the wants and desires of another; do not have to use the term “we”, but can selfishly and happily refer to “Me” or “I” without fear of retribution. A solid relationship with a good woman might be nice, secure and less exhausting, but when you swap freedom for security, you may – just have a little less fun.
As somebody famously said to their newly retired partner of many years, that she married him for better or worse, not for lunch ! Some love domestic life, but in retrospect perhaps it’s just not for me.
So to close this missive. As I sip another ice-cold Singha and Lin smiles at me across the table after finishing a meal equal to what would probably feed a small African town for a week. Seeing her simple pleasure from food in this idyllic island setting, I ask myself three questions. Does life get much better than this ? And why is it that she is content with the meal that she has just finished, rather than a western woman’s continual need for material aggrandisement and control ? The third, would I ever go back down that dark road of internet dating ? No Never !
The author can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org