A Thailand story
The flight to Thailand was beginning to get me after twelve hours. I still had twelve hours to go and the economy seat became more of a torture chamber with every passing minute. I felt both fatigued and excited. I was on my way to becoming an expatriate, or ex-pat as they are known in Thailand. Two years after my divorce, I had cashed in my chips. I took my share of the equity in the house, half the savings and my secret nest egg, which my former wife didn't know about, and headed for the land of smiles to live, maybe forever. All together, I would have a comfortable retirement.
Eventually, I would be old enough to cash in my 401k and then I'd really have some extra cash. My ex tried to get a piece of that, but I threatened to send my evidence of her adultery to everyone we knew, including her parents. The bitch backed off. Maybe, I'll do it anyway. At this point, I truly hate her and what she did to our marriage and my life.
In the end my ex was reasonable in the divorce. She should have been. The split was based on irreconcilable differences instead of the charge of adultery which her lying, cheating ass deserved. I didn't want to waste my energy trying to hurt her, just get away, as far away as I could from the memories and the pain.
I had been to Thailand twenty years earlier when I was in the service. I liked the food, weather and the women, so I decided to begin my new life there. I needed the change. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Things had to be a lot different there after all these years. I certainly was not the same man. The wounds from too many battles left me tired and scarred. I figured whatever fate awaited me had to be better than the hellish loneliness that I left behind.
My name is Jessie, Jessie James. I know what you're thinking. It's not my fault. My mother was a big fan of American western history, especially gun slingers, hence the name. I kind of liked it. In Thailand, the name would hold no special meaning. Everything would be new there. I would be a stranger in a very strange land. I had nothing to lose. My son, who rarely spoke to me, was about to finish college. The only women I was able to date back in New York were divorced, over weight, bitter and carrying more baggage than a freight train.
At forty nine, I was in pretty good shape with a touch of grey in my hair. I was often told that I didn't look a day over thirty five. I certainly wasn't ready to pack it in. Since there wasn't a lot of sex going on for me after the divorce, the gym became my sanctuary. My abs are flat and my muscles hard. I was never much of a ladies man, shy I guess. Some ego reinforcement and a chance to regroup were badly needed. I yearned to feel manly again and in control of my life.
"You look deep in thought young man," said the man sitting directly to my right. I hadn't said much to him during the trip. He looked to be about sixty something. His face showed the wisdom of a life hard lived. He seemed to sense my mood.
"I am ... I just left my entire life back in the states. I sure hope I'm doing the right thing."
"You'll be fine, son," he said smiling. "I'm Frank Jones, he said extending his hand. He had the quiet bearing of a man who knew what he was talking about.
"I'm Jessie, Jessie James, pleased to meet you." I answered, reading his mind. He didn't comment on the name. The "old man" looked glad for the company.
"Glad to meet you, Jessie." I've lived in Thailand twenty two years. I have often thought of moving back to the states, but I never will. I will spend my last days in Thailand. I guess you could say I'm a battle hardened old veteran of the game." I thought of him as the "old man" in the military sense of using the term to describe a respected commanding officer.
"Game? What game?" I said, now intrigued.
He looked at me with the patience of a wise and seasoned teacher. The use of the word son drew me to him. For some reason, I trusted him immediately. "You will experience some of the most selfless acts of kindness and generosity imaginable as well as considerable lies, deceit, and manipulation for the purpose of separating you from your cash. It's the way it is, their way of life. You are about to enter a world of fantasy, son. For them, it's about survival. Pensions and social security are not the rule there.
For most Thais, there is no safety net. The object of the game is to survive their world with your wallet, integrity and pride intact while having as much fun as possible. Many a man has checked his brain at the airport and lived to regret it."
He shared with me much of what he had learned. I felt like I should be taking notes. I paid real close attention to his words. I suddenly started to feel overwhelmed and anxious.
"You've got to understand that the rules will be different when you leave this plane."
"What are the rules?"
"Well, to start with, you have never seen so many available beautiful young women. Smile and they will treat you better than you could ever imagine. Many will try to train you, then exploit you. It can be difficult to sort out what is real. Believe half of what you see and nothing of what you hear. For example, the lady boys are some of the most beautiful women you will see. The Thais call them katoeys."
"Lady boys? Is that like gay?" I asked, innocently.
"More than gay, they are pre-op and post-op transsexuals. Some of them are truly amazing. It's all an illusion. Much of what you think you see will be an illusion. That's just the beginning. The famous Thai smile is both a sword and a shield. It doesn't mean the same thing as a smile back home. If they smile, you smile. It's also your sword and shield. You will learn as you go along. Just remember, don't surrender your power and make your self happy. It's time in your life to think about your needs. Compromise is ok, but don't sacrifice too much. Stay in control, stay strong. Set limits and see with your eyes and brain, not your dick. If something doesn't feel correct, it probably isn't. Thai women have no respect for a wimp, so don't allow that to happen."
"Why would I do that?"
"In Thailand, it's easier than you would think. A guy like you is a ripe target. You want companionship and sex. They want money. You are not the predator in the land of smiles, you're the prey. They will strip your wallet and heart to the bone and laugh at you for being stupid enough to let them."
I struggled to absorb all of what he said.
"One more thing ... Feel free to fall in love. That is with a different lady every day. We ex pats call them LBFMs."
"Little brown fuck machines," Frank answered, smiling as his mind flashed back to another place and time ... Most of the ladies of the night are not wife material, they are whores. Some idiots call them sex workers. If she sells sex for a living, she's a whore. If she's been in the game longer than a month or two forget about it. She's damaged goods. Don't forget that. Treat them with respect, pay them in the morning and send them on their way. Their jealousy and possessiveness are based on ownership of clients, not love. It looks like affection or love, but that's not what it is. Play with them, as they are most certainly are playing with you, and don't put up with any shit. If she starts to throw things or get violent, put her ass out. That's how you play the game, son."
"Is that all I have to look forward to?"
"Don't get me wrong. If you find a so called, "good girl," you might find a woman that would make an excellent life companion. Look for them in areas away from where farang usually go. However, Their family and friends will usually have higher priority than you. If you are real lucky, you might find one that thinks more like a girl back home. Ironically, it's their exotic nature that's so appealing. At the same time, it's like dealing with creatures from another planet. Beware my friend. Many good girls have adopted the tactics of their more unscrupulous sisters. Learn some Thai. If you don't let them know that you understand their conversations, you'll learn a lot."
"It means foreigner. Often it is used negatively by Thais. You will never be totally accepted by Thai society. You and I will always be foreigners. Yours odds improve if she is educated and older than thirty. The young girls are just too full of themselves. Most of them don't realize they have a short self life. Just don't look for your dream girl in a go-go bar. Think of them as attractions in an adult Disney land, a nice place to visit, but you don't want to live there. The working girls are fun, accept them for what they are. Love em and leave em. One more thing, remember the farang always pays. They know you are richer than them, therefore, they feel no guilt about you picking up the tab. Good luck, son. You're going to need it. Everyday will be an adventure, expect the unexpected. Don't expect the law to offer any protection. The biggest mafia in the country are the police."
"Thanks, I'll remember what you said. At least my eyes will be open when the plane lands. I owe you ... I hope that our paths cross again."
"I'm sure we'll talk again," he replied.
"Your advice is greatly appreciated. I don't know if I'm ready for this."
He gave me his phone number. I knew I would be calling him, sooner or later. The plane landed and we set off to follow our individual destinies.
As soon as I left the airport, the Bangkok air enveloped me. It was hot and humid. I started sweating immediately. The air smelled of unknown plant life, auto exhaust, Thai spices and elements I could not identify. It would take me a while before I adjusted to my new home.
.... There is more of this story ...