How to Watch TV with a Thai
If you are a man and come to Thailand to teach English, and are not married (or physically dependent on your farang girlfriend – as in, she beats you and you like it) then you will eventually, all things being equal, find yourself a nice Thai lady and settle down with her. For how long? Who can tell? No crystal ball can penetrate the inner workings of the Thai female’s mind. Gone today, here tomorrow – that’s kinda how they operate.
But take it from me, under normal conditions (normal conditions . . . hah! There ain’t no such thing in Thailand, but anyway . . . ) you will run into a sweet Thai girl somewhere, somehow, who will capture your heart and have very specific designs on your wallet as well. We might as well dispose of this up front; I don’t care if you look like Brad Pitt and can sing like Pavarotti, Thai women cannot live on love and don’t give a rat’s patootie about romance. If you’re smart you’ll tell them first thing what you make a month as a teacher. If they actually like you, they’ll stick around. If not, they’ll give you a friendly goombye and tell you to hit the road.
You see, my erstwhile Romeo and current ESL pedagogue, a Thai woman does not exist as a single, separate, entity. She has parents, maybe children, definitely cousins, nieces and nephews, to whom she is obligated by tradition (and an unholy pride) to support and compensate. In the West we often say that when you marry a woman you marry their family as well – here in Thailand, when you hook up with a Thai woman, you hook up with the whole darn village she comes from!
Now in my case I fell for two foxy Thai ladies, one right after the other, and when I told them what my teacher’s salary was they smiled, patted me on the shoulder, and gave me the Thai equivalent of “Let’s just be friends.”
Gal Number Three was also very interested in my income. When I told her what it was, she gave me a long, appraising look, and said she’d take me on a trial basis for three months to see how it went.
We’ve been together now for quite some time, and are making plans for marriage, so I guess I passed muster with her.
Joom (for that is the lovely lady’s name) and I are approaching the Sunset Years (or is it the Twilight Zone?) Not for us the soul-destroying nights carousing at the karaoke bar; instead, we settle down of an evening to watch Thai TV. I choose not to get cable because . . . well, because I’m a sticky shit (the direct Thai translation for a cheapskate.)
Here’s the routine:
· Joom and I agree that we are not going to have anything to eat this evening. We’ve just had an early supper and there’s no need to have anything else. During the very first commercial break Joom gets up to make MaMa noodles for the both of us.
· Along with the MaMa noodles Joom brings back a bag of roasted pumpkin seeds, which she proceeds to split open with her teeth and spit the shells all over the couch. I tell her to cease. She looks at me as if I have lost my marbles. I retaliate by getting the clipper and cutting my toenails – after all, two can play at this infantile game! Inevitably, I cut one nail too deep and start to bleed. She runs for the Betadine and a bandage and we get all lovey-dovey afterwards until her favorite show comes on.
· Which is always full of Isaan rice farmers and their passionate love affairs (during which nobody ever kisses) or else vampires who scare policemen or talking dogs that don’t seem to have anything to do with the storyline – but then, when have talking animals ever really been in the loop? I start to nod off.
· Which leads to Joom sticking her index finger down my throat every time I yawn. I get up to turn the fan up higher. As soon as I sit down Joom is up to turn the fan back down. We repeat this charade a half dozen times.
· Then her cell phone rings and she is off jabbering Isaan with one of her girlfriends, sounding like a goose stuck in a turnstile.
· When she is done talking she asks me, out of the blue, if I remember so-and-so, who we met two years ago while shopping at Big C. No, I don’t remember so-and-so, and why should I? Well, says Joom, because she is coming to say with us for a week.
· After the argument has simmered down to a low boil it is time for the Thai National News, which seems lately to be nothing but floods, earthquakes, and soccer scores. I ask for some pumpkin seeds. Joom admits she should have asked me first if our bosom companion from the Big C Store could stay with us before she invited her. I tell her it’s okay, and then ask slyly if she’s pretty.
· I spend the rest of the evening by myself, rereading one of the Harry Potter books on my Kobo. Thai TV is boring & incomprehensible anyways.