Where Everyone Knows Your Name
Cheers was a TV show in North America that ran from 1982 to 1993. It was about a local pub (Irish, I believe) in Boston. The show was about the lives of the pub regulars and the people that worked the pub. The show’s theme song was ‘Where Everyone Knows your Name’.
This reader’s submission is about my time in Thailand from 2009 to 2020, a time of much change in the land of smiles, mostly due to smartphones and the internet.
In 2009 I was working in an international school in Malaysia and my best friend was a principal in an international school in Bangkok. My friend sent me an email and said get your ass over here, you have to see it to believe it.
I took him up on it and subsequently flew to Bangkok from Kuala Lumpur every second weekend and arrived Friday night and flew back Monday mornings. I was coming off a miserable marriage of 30 years. I was 59 with a sex drive that needed to be satisfied and more money than brains with my libido in charge of my thought processes.
The Canadian dollar was at about 32 baht to a dollar, and I would book the Sheraton or Westin for the weekend and bar fine a different girl each night and sometimes 2 for the night.
When the school year was done, I moved to Thailand full-time and often worked in by buddy’s school to fill a gap where needed. My Canadian pensions enabled my Thai lifestyle with no problems.
Like many expats, I managed to get involved with a couple of long-term girlfriends before finding my Thai wife after 3 years of being footloose and fancy-free.
This is where I want to discuss last week’s comment by Stick about expats and their invisible wives. There is a vast culture gap between Thais and Farangs. That gap exists whether the Thai has some high school or is a university graduate. Thais also live in the moment and don’t worry as much about the future. They also tend to forget the past quite readily in most matters, but not matters of the heart!
I won’t pretend I know much about Thai men or hi-so Thai women, but I do know village Thais and Thai women that work in the entertainment districts in Bangkok. I especially enjoy the company of bargirls as they can spend lots of time with you if they wish to.
What makes them wish to? It’s quite simple, they want to have fun! Cindy Lauper had it right. However, they also want to make money in order to meet their needs, and as often, their families need.
A great night out for a Thai girl is to visit the RCA (Royal City Avenue) with her Thai girlfriends. Why, because she gets to talk Thai the whole time, relax, and be herself, and shoot down some young Thai guys while enjoying Thai music.
Of course, you can take her to the Sheraton’s jazz night, and she will be bored out of her tree so make sure you take along another couple who also has a Thai wife or girlfriend that she likes so they can chat. The Sheraton Saturday brunch is okay, but she will nibble at most of it because it is not tasty (spicy sweet).
She also likes to visit her Thai friends that are not involved with a farang and sit on the floor and eat BBQ spicy and get pissed on beer Lao quarts. They will chat about how farangs can be so stupid at times but also profess how good their farang is. Once you have joined this group once or twice, you will pass on subsequent invites. There is some truth in the saying that ‘You can take a Thai girl out of Thailand but you can’t take Thailand out of the girl’.
In Thailand, my wife and I will party separately and will also party together at places like Hillary 2, Country Road, The Dollhouse, etc. We will also frequent beer bars where we know the mamasan and or some of the girls. But, when I really want to party, I am out with my expat friends.
Which gets me back to the title of this article. When I left Thailand, just before the pandemic set in, I could walk into at least 10 bars or gogo bars and some girl or mamasan would shout out. “Jimmy, where have you been?” It was usually followed up with a kiss on the cheek. When I arrived at Hillary2 the lead singer of the band would usually acknowledge me with the mic, which did wonders for my popularity. I suspect that was because I was a weekly regular and often bought the band a round. Waitresses would run a tab for me while everyone else had bins.
It was wonderful being a part of the Bangkok nightlife and I suspect that I will need to cultivate some more bar friends.
My approach is quite simple, when the lady comes up and asks me to buy her a drink, I reply, ‘I will, but first you have to get me to laugh’. They will either walk away or try, and usually after about 15 or 20 minutes they are successful, and I buy them a drink after they give me a kiss on the cheek. The next time I visit that bar, more often than not, the lady comes up to me and gives me a kiss on the cheek and I buy her a drink, if she can answer the question, ‘What is my name?’.
Sometimes I end up bar fining the lady if she is lots of fun and we go bar hopping which they really enjoy with the understanding that at 2 AM I give her taxi money and head off home to my wife. I told my wife she need not worry as I am always too pissed to perform but have made another friend.
Sometimes my wife and the wife of my best buddy go to Hillary with a couple of girlfriends and dance and party the night away with farangs paying for all their drinks. They seem to enjoy telling the farangs they are married at the end of the night and are heading home alone. Not really, as they are heading off to a Thai restaurant to satisfy their spicy cravings first.
My wife and I have now been happily married for 9 years and we both miss Thailand. After another year or 2 we will start spending 6 months in Thailand and 6 months in Canada. Here in Canada, my wife and I are always seen together.
To answer Stick’s question, you are most likely to see our Thai wives if you are in the immediate circle that we run in. I think the band members at Hillary are still trying to figure out which girl is my wife.
I absolutely understand why someone who married a hooker might prefer to keep her out of sight of friends, family and colleagues. But to be frank, I think very few Westerners in Thailand these days who marry a Thai woman get involved with these ladies. Customer / bargirl marriages are largely a thing of the past. I am most likely going to write the next Stickman weekly opener as a reply / explainer to the many emails that responded to this week’s column opener which pretty much all talk about that very small subset of Thai women (bar workers from what were once poor parts of the country) as if this group is representative of all Thai women. The working title of the article is “Mia Farang, A Throwback To The Past”.
The author of this article cannot be contacted.