KHUK KHAK, Thailand - Had to put those two Thai tailor girls on ice for a few days after that 2500TB (Thai Baht @ 35TB=1USD) dinner last week. I've got the receipt right here to prove it.
Yeah, one of 'em ordered six giant prawn, a whole platter full, and although I don't speak nor understand that much Thai, I could easily see their order was enough for five or six people, and I wondered at the time, 'Who's going to eat all this food?'
Well, Kip's boyfriend, is who.
After placing our order of another half dozen entrees, An took two calls, directing Mos in from Phuket to a place at our table. Now, for me, there are three or four things going on right there that run coarse against my grain.
One, I absolutely hate people taking a cell phone call in the middle of a conversation, especially at dinner, and especially at dinner in a restaurant, and really especially if I'm paying for it. Hate is a strong word. Detest.
Two, if I've invited someone to dinner, it would seem appropriate that I should be notified beforehand if my guest wishes to invite yet another party. Maybe check and see if it's okay? Maybe that's being unreasonable. Seems to me like on a 'need-to-know' basis, I'd need to know.
Three, I don't like the style. It seemed really underhanded, sly, and presumptuous.
Four, I don't like being played for a chump.
I made my sentiments known after the waitress brought out a fourth table setting, and our table grew quiet and glum. Then all the food arrived. And then Mos arrived, and we had a nice, enjoyable, relaxed meal. And then the check arrived.
During the meal, I made a conscious effort to avoid thinking of the above cited issues of contention, and went along amiably with wherever they took the conversation. We were supposed to be having English class over dinner.
The deal is, I provide private English lessons, and An and Kip drive me to dinner. A two-hour class. I buy dinner.
You might be thinking, 'That's pretty messed up, Bro. You're not getting paid.' And from a logical standpoint, you'd be correct. But I look at it like, 'I get the pleasure of the company of two beautiful Thai girls for dinner once a week.'
Fair enough? Ain't no logic involved.
Ok. But there are some inherent problems, some of which you may have already begun to suspect.
One BIG problem is the assumption that all farang are rich. BIG perceptual problem. They figure if you can visit their country, then you mut hab big mon-eee.
So they test the water to see how big your money is, and how easily they can stretch your neck. It's a country of players. They're all players. Predator/Players. It's a second-world country clashing with the first-world west, a top-five-in-the-world tourist destination, behind Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris and Rome, providing for European consumers.
Of course they think we have money. They see us come here and spend it. 'What you wan? How mush you need?'
They don't know I live in a trailer in the most poverty-stricken county in my own country. They have no idea of what rez life is like. But for that matter, neither do most Americans.
They don't know we live hoof-to-mouth, and under water, looking for some kinda lifeboat, some kind of bailout. The Thai don't know JACK about America, but they've heard of New York and Los Angeles.
They can't say, 'Colorado'.
But they can say 'Sou Dah-Ko-TAH', with the inevitable emphasis on the last syllable.
I'm not making fun of them; it's just that the French taught them how to speak English. You have to go to Singapore, or next door to Myanmar to hear English spoken as we would say, 'correctly'.
Have I lost the thread of this story, yet?
Let me scroll back up here for a minute and see where this is going.
Ok. They think we're all rich. They're wrong. But they don't know they're wrong until they find out FOR CHUAH. For sure.
Big money would have you on a yacht out on the Andaman Sea. They can see how I live. Big money would have my house on the beach. Big money wouldn't have sarongs for curtains.
Another not altogether incorrect assumption is that old fart Western men are suckers for young beautiful Thai women. I say young, because to me, they are, although An is 42. I'm not interested in anything but dinner company and the opportunity to teach, so they were also wrong on the chump assumption, the chump's motives. Can a person just be a friend?
'No, I don't want to be your business partner. No, I don't want to take you shopping in Phuket. No, I don't want to buy you a new laptop so you can talk to me when I return to Ah-mel-ika.'
So, those girls were testing me, and the test said, "We've pissed him off."
(They surely got the message when they mulled over the extraordinary dinner bill* after I excused myself to go a few doors down to an ATM. It was a quiet drive home).
Ok, cool. Let 'em chill for a few days. Teacher don't show for class. We no hab dinner.
But eventually, I had to come off that attitude and drop by their shop, for two reasons; one, I had to let them know I was chilled, too; and two, I had to do some follow-up on the suit I said I'd take, or tick-tock, tick-tock,** think about it.
Already told you about the problem with the suit and the shoes and everything...and as Bryan pointed out, it's not just the shoes..."Don't get started with that stuff -- leads to the need for ties, shirts, shoes, belts, handkerchieves, topcoats, gloves, etc. etc. It's a slippery slope. Just say no."
Well, I said no to the suit and shirt and pants, and settled on just a jacket, something that will sort of make me look like I could maybe be from France, with the right kind of slacks and shoes, and scarf and shoulderbag. Along with the right kind of stride.
Nah, it's not the France look that I want. You guys know what I'm saying. You wives and girlfirends, too. You know how your man feels and looks when he goes out and buys a new sport coat or suit.
Check yourself out in the mirror.......um hmmmmm. Till you look down at your feet.
'Gonna have to get some new shoes to go with this.'
*When eating with normal people, you could expect to pay about 150-250 baht per head.
**this expression, 'Tick tock, tick tock,' in English, accompanied by the gesture of holding your hand up to your ear like you're holding something about the size of a baseball, and making a rotating, back-and-forth motion, is universally applicable across Thailand, especially with the merchantile class, meaning, 'I'll think about it.'