Thanks for the Memories
After reading Stick’s alert that his swansong would soon be forthcoming, I consoled myself by saying everything has a beginning and an end. Then I tried to remember when I started my Stick-addiction, and my own journey from Thailand neophyte to where I am today. And where I am today, like many others who have visited Thailand multiple times and have studied its people and culture; a lot of observation but little certainty. I am reminded of the first sentence in the introduction J. M. Cadet wrote in his excellent book (“The Ramakien”) from 1970, “The Thai are one of the more elusive peoples of Asia.”
I started searching my old hard drive for Stickman articles I wrote and pages I saved. If the dates are to be believed, it appears I started reading his website in 2002, soon after I returned to America from a 2-year assignment in Singapore. I would have been living in San Francisco, with no real friends, missing my Thai girlfriend, and overwhelmed with nostalgia for the sights and smells of Thailand. Luckily, I had a job a trained monkey could do, so I filled my lonely hours by diving into Stick’s website every chance I got. I remember it was a revelation to me. So many guys who seemed to be of the same mind as me, yet with so many contrary opinions about the country, especially the girls. I wasn’t sure where my own experience fit. Eventually, I realized mine was a familiar story of Thai girl meets American man. I was looking for love, she to improve her family’s lives. When I was with her, I loved her very much and she loved the opportunities I could give her. It worked in Thailand but now in my lonely San Mateo studio apartment, with a belly full of Stickman stories, I knew it was over. I called her and told her so. She didn’t seem too upset.
Soon afterward, hanging out in my favorite Thai restaurant, I was introduced to a 5-foot Thai sprite with a 10-foot smile. We were married 6 months later, and 6 months after that, we moved to the right coast to start our new life together. She became part of my family, everybody loved her, and later she brought her sons to live with us. They loved my sons and soon they were like any other American teenager. They are soon to graduate from very good universities. We could have been the next version of the “Brady Bunch” clan minus the blond hair. It really was that much fun, and I loved every minute of it.
But back to those early years. After the move, I was still reading every new article in Stickman, but from the different perspective of a happy man married to a lovely Thai woman. I decided I was ready to tell my own stories about my experiences in Thailand. Not surprisingly, it was my story about Da who made me realize that what was happening in the go-go bars of Thailand was not just a farang amusement park; these were real people with real lives and real hardships. I have never forgotten her, even after these many years of marital bliss. After it was posted, I waited nervously for any emails in response. As I remember, there were a few “she’s a whore” messages, but then there were a few more who said they had similar experiences. Most seemed to like it.
As no one called me a bonehead, I was emboldened to start writing more. So, I started in fits of earnestness, mostly with stories of my monger years and later about my dubious Thai girlfriend. This period started to culminate with my pretend farewell letter to her in 2009, “Dear Noi” that received, by far, my biggest response from Stickdom. Her spirit finally stopped haunting me after I wrote the “The Long Farewell” series. With my old ghost gone from my thoughts, I moved on to other writing endeavors, like feuding with Caveman and others who I thought were too dismissive of Thai people and culture. I briefly tried a series of “factchecker” stories but it got little traction. I guess many readers enjoyed reading the lies about Thailand as much as the truth, which is OK by me. After that, I slowed down considerably, with stories mostly about my trips to Thailand with my wife, and how her family and friends find new ways to torture me Thai style.
But the point of this article is not about me and what I wrote; it’s about the enjoyment I have had with the incredible open community Stick provided to people like me, hopelessly enamored by Thailand and by its mystifying people and culture. Stick helped us all to find what was real and not real in the LOS, and possibly in ourselves as well. Yet, in spite of how long Stick’s website has been going, I am still amazed at the number of men who within 2 days of arriving on Thailand’s shores, are ready to sell their home in Farangland and to forego king and country to pursue happiness in this strange and wonderful country. What other place in world has this effect on men’s sensibilities? I’m sure this parade of fools will continue long after Stick’s website is closed. There just won’t be Stick’s safe venue to help the mad dreamers who follow us. Today and many years from now, travelers to Thailand need to consider C. M. Cadet’s words as both warning and enticement.
I want to thank Stick for his efforts to provide us with a little entertaining diversion from our lives in the west, and for one large, collective psychoanalyst’s couch from which we grappled with our conflicting thoughts about this mystifying place. It will be sorely missed. In my many visits to the good Dr. Stick’s office, I have gained knowledge, read great articles with wonderful wit and insights, suffered misogynists of the lowest form, and made a few remote friends who I hope to meet one day. It has been a great experience and I hope Stick has the most wonderful life in the land of the kiwi. Thanks for the memories, Stick.
And thank you for tuning in for so long, and for all of your contributions to the site!
Obviously in light of yesterday’s weekly column things have not ended just yet….let’s see what happens next.
The author can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org