Going Shopping with your Thai Girlfriend
Please notice that the title of this essay is not “Shopping for Your Thai Girlfriend”. We are assuming that you have already done that, found the merchandise to your satisfaction, and are now entered into a long-term, adult relationship (pause here for prolonged, ironic laughter).
The unfortunate impression that most farang men have of the Thai female is that they are completely mercenary and are out to wring every last baht from you that they can. This is not true; they only wish to wring every other baht out of you, leaving you with just enough to subsist on when they move on or you throw them out. They are not true thieves, wishing to steal all you have for their own venal purposes. No indeed; they are more like Robin Hood – taking from the rich (you) to give to the poor (their families). It is karma that has brought you, the rich farang, into their lives. And it will be karma that determines just how much money they can finagle out of you. If your Thai girlfriend believes she led a virtuous previous life, she will now be confident that you are going to shower her with gold in this life. So confident that she will take little, or no, pains in concealing her larceny from you.
Remember, Mr. Farang, that she is doing this not for herself, but to clothe, feed, and pay off the mortgage of her family back home in Khorat. This will increase her karma so that in the next life she will probably return as Oprah Winfrey, and you, you miserable worm, will be coming back as Charlie Sheen’s therapist. Unless you treat her right.
And that brings us to the topic of shopping with your Thai sweetheart. Men, as a general rule, do not consider shopping to be a fit subject for conversation, let alone something to actually do. A man will go out to buy socks or a newspaper or a pizza, but he doesn’t take hours and hours to compare prices and to chat with the sales people (unless they happen to look like models from Victoria’s Secret). A man goes out to accomplish a task, wading through throngs of heedless humanity, pushing and shoving, surviving as best he can, just to bring back some CD’s and fried chicken to enjoy in the sanctity of his own home. It is a battle, a conflict best done quickly and brutally, with no mercy shown to others.
But at some point in your relationship with your Thai girlfriend, you will doubtless become curious about how she manages to spend vast sums of your money on such skimpy, frivolous items as she deigns to let you ever see. Even on your ESL teacher’s salary, she can fritter away a significant amount in the blink of an eye. And so you demand an accounting, she pouts, you relent, she bestows that killer smile on you, you give her the tattered remains of your wallet, and all is well in Wonderland again. Only now she invites you to come along on her next shopping expedition. Very well, you say bravely, I shall.
The first stop on this mutual shopping expedition is the coffee shop, where you both get a plastic bag of iced coffee, with a straw, to take with you as you stroll among the stalls and street front shops in whatever district your main squeeze decides to start at. She tells you that she is in desperate need of a new cover for her cell phone. The current cover has a scratch on it – albeit it is only visible under a microscope. Still, it is upsetting the entire balance of her cosmos – so it must be replaced. She spends 47 minutes talking to the clerk at the little shop where they purvey cell phones and their accoutrements, looking at colors and styles of covers until she decides on one that has a Hello Kitty logo on it. You, in the meantime, have been wilting under the tropical sun, already aware that this insane odyssey is going to cost you more in mental health than in your wallet.
She oohs and ahs over her new cover, proudly shows you the price sticker, and laughs merrily at your paroxysms of rage at being gouged so much for a piece of cheap plastic. Whatever you may do, my friend, do not, repeat, do not point out the very next shop, where they sell used phones and cell phone covers, at very reasonable prices, to her. Not unless you want one of her high heels ground into your gouty big toe.
There are other stops at other shops, to look at blouses and swimsuits and lipstick and hair ties and a very long session at a Chinese pharmacy where she picks up a small brown bottle of something that she sniffs occasionally as you stroll over to the open air food court for a bowl of noodles and a Fanta.
The heat of the day is now a physical burden, a shimmering menace that increases your sense of despair and boredom until you want to scream in madness and lash yourself to an iceberg.
Your lovely Thai girlfriend has been patiently waiting for you to reach this stage of dementia. Now she can drag you, willy-nilly, back to the cell phone store where she bought the cover for her old phone. As you stand there, panting in exhaustion, she coyly explains that what she really, really needs is a new cell phone, one that can snap pictures and has the Internet and downloads information from the Hubble Space Telescope. She saw it when she got her new cover, and now knows she cannot live without it. It’s only six-thousand baht – a veritable bargain.
Too weak to resist her onslaught, you hand over your ATM card, she squeals in delight, gives you a bear hug, scampers off and returns with the funds. You are not yet completely gone, so you ask for the ATM card back. She brazenly slides it down into her sports bra. It will have to be attended to later.
Her shopping lust is nearly sated now, and you are ready to stagger home with her, when she delivers the coup de grace.
Seems that the old cell phone cover just won’t do for the new phone, so she sits down with the clerk and they start comparing cell phone covers all over again.
If your karma is kind, there is a cyanide stall just around the corner . . .