A Story Of Wasted Kiwis And Degenerate Wives
The consequences of paying for Sex in Siam.
Marty is Kiwi-born but has spent the last thirty-odd years of his life outside Sydney. He's overweight, pale, arms sleeved in bright tattoos, wearing a basketball jersey, and sporting a receding hairline coaxed into an approximation of a flat top.
We're at a bar near my hotel in Chang Mai. I fled North from Bangkok after a too-long stint of debauchery left me bedridden with a fever. Thirty-nine is too old to jump straight into a multi-day bender. You've gotta ease into it. Be practiced. Or addicted. Whatever you want to call it.
I spent my first night in Chang Mai at a 'party hostel.' It was supposed to be fun. Raw. Remind me of my youth. Before the paunch. Before the aches. Before I could afford anything better.
A single night in a sixth floor walk-up with a shared bathroom sent me running. I called my wife and asked her to find me a better spot. Something more suited to a middle-aged man. Come morning I packed my gear and left for a suite around the corner from the Tha Pae Gate.
They greeted me with a welcome drink. Carried my bags to my room while I checked in. Pointed me toward the spa, outlined nearby sights, asked what time I'd like my turn-down service.
Marty has spent the last hour holding forth on the many wisdoms he'd picked up in his days on Earth. A focus of his diatribe to which he keeps returning is his firmly held belief that Chinamen should not be allowed to drive.
Upon learning that I live on Kauai he explains that the Maori culture originated on Oahu.
His companion, Rob, a Maori fellow shooting me apologetic looks from across the table, orders him a plate of chips. “You've gotta eat something,” he tells Marty.
“Yeah,” replies Marty. “But tell 'im, Rob. Your people came from Hawaii.”
I'm no expert in Maori heritage, but I'm certain this is untrue. I say as much to Rob and he just shrugs at me.
“He's pissed. Don't worry about it.”
“You've got plenty of Chinamen in Hawaii, don't you, Roy?” Marty continues, returning to his favorite subject. “You tell me, Roy. They can't drive for shit, can they? Fucking dangerous, all of them.”
There are a lot of Asian people in Hawaii, I agree. But I haven't seen any evidence that they're worse drivers than anyone else. Maybe better. At least on Kauai. Slow but considerate. Polite. Safe. It's the tourists you've gotta watch out for.
“The women are the fucking worst of them, Roy. Where are those fucking chips!?!? This is taking fucking forever. It's because they don't fucking pay the bar girls. They all work for tips.”
He lurches to his feet and stumbles to the bar to confront the staff about the delay of his fried potatoes. While he's gone I spend a few minutes chatting with Rob. He's a handsome, deeply tanned man in his mid-fifties with a square jaw and broad shoulders. He works as a mechanic. Has five children by three different women and twenty-one grandchildren. It's Rob's first time out of the country. He doesn't count moving between Australia and New Zealand.
We're on the same level, mentally. Firmly buzzed, but far from fucked.
As opposed to Marty, who has returned with his plate of chips. Marty is cross-eyed hammered, slurring badly, and well on his way from amusing drunk to outright liability. His plate of chips keep him occupied for a few minutes. He struggles to open a bottle of ketchup, dumps half of it on his plate, and dives in two handed. His hands and face are covered in red, mashed potato collect at the corner of his mouth.
“Me 'n Rob are gonna buy a condo,” he announces. “We're looking at it tomorrow.”
Rob gives me a brief shake of the head.
“It's only fucking 20k. I'm gonna look at it tomorrow and... where are my fucking chips?”
Marty waves over the bartender and demands to know when his chips will be ready. The bartender points at the half-finished plate in front of him and asks, “You want another?”
You can see, for a brief moment, a flicker in the back of Marty's eyes. He nearly makes the connection. Almost realizes the condition he's in. But it fades as fast as it appears and he says, “Yeah. And another round. What are you drinking, Roy? Singha?”
Against my better judgment, I confirm my order and settle in to see where this goes.
Rediscovering the plate of chips in front of him Marty returns to work demolishing them. His volume is steadily increasing and food sprays from his mouth as he announces, “All the bar girls are prostitutes. All of 'em. It's because they don't pay them shit. And because they love white men.”
He makes a grab for our waitress when she delivers our drinks. I cringe and attempt to blend into the bench seat. I've seen tourists grope bar staff before. It does not end well. I do not want to be mistaken for a fellow transgressor. I do not want to receive a vicious beating from a group of people one-third my size.
But she nimbly dodges his grasp, then gives our table a dirty look. I make a note to apologize, and tip very well, before I leave. I want to be welcomed when I return.
The combination of accent and alcohol are making Marty difficult to decipher. I can make out that's he's still on the subject of prostitutes, his enjoyment of them, and is attempting to deliver tips on their various qualities. I can make out that he thinks University students are the best. Because they need the money. I'm not sure how many of his dalliances have actually been enrolled, but I don't want to derail his train of thought.
“Don't fuck the street girls, Roy. Never fuck the street girls. But, if you do, wear a condom. Always wear a condom.”
He leans in conspiratorially and I watch the booze take a turn toward sad. His voice cracks. He whisper-screams in my ear. Sprays my face with fine flecks of potato.
“But I didn't wear a condom, Roy. I didn't wear a condom.”
I've never paid for sex. The moral implications make me uncomfortable. Even massages are a struggle. Paying a stranger to lay hands on me makes my muscles tense. They are, without exception, awkward and uncomfortable experiences.
My wife bears no such peccadillos and so, on a previous trip to Thailand, insisted we go for rub-downs at the high-end joint next to the luxury hotel she'd insisted we book.
Said hotel had been a matter of much contention. The idea of booking a two-story corner suite seemed ludicrous at the time, when I still harbored the delusion that said locales were too soft for a man of my rugged inclination.
She won the argument. Because she always does.
Various massage packages were offered, the most expensive priced at roughly US$17. On the more expensive end for massages in Thailand. It was a classy enterprise.
The business was bustling. Numerous other tourists waited their turns. The clientele was largely male and graying. It always is in Thailand. We were offered a chance to pick our respective masseuse. I said I didn't care. My wife opted for the cutest one.
The older woman who beat my body into submission had hands of steel. “Relax. Relax!” she demanded as she sunk her knuckles into my back. That's not something of which I'm capable. But I smiled and nodded and tried my best.
It's my experience with western massages that they typically keep a safe distance from your genitals. Your towel area is a no-go zone, excepting glute rubs which are announced in advanced and carry a clinical air.
But different cultures have different values and I thought nothing of it after she told me to flip onto my back and slid her hand up my inner thigh. I reminded myself of my trip to a bath in Turkey, in which an abnormally hirsute nude man scrubbed, literally, every single surface of my body with a hand mounted loofa. I'd never been so clean.
But when her powerful, oiled, hand gripped the shaft of my penis I realize the import of the deluxe massages for which we'd paid. I flinched, my eyes shot open, and I recoiled from her touch.
She looked at me quizzically. “You don't like?”
No ma'am. Just a plain 'ol boring massage, please. My shoulders are sore. Go after those. Thankyouverymuch.
She shrugged, flipped me back over, ran out the clock, then left me to towel the oil off my body.
I returned to the front room to find my wife waiting. She was smiling, chatting with the staff. Glowing.
“How was your massage?” She asked.
“Pretty good. The lady tried to give me a hand job.”
“Oh. Yeah. Me too.”
“What did you do?”
“I've already paid for another one.”