Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Farang (aka Fugly White Man)

My problem is I’m too ready to speak my mind. Sometimes I should learn to just zip it. I know it’s improper or impolite to interfere in other people’s business, however having succumbed to silence on one too many occasions, and bearing witness to his intimidation again, the voice of my social justice gene is screaming pick me, pick me. Clearly, it's not time to zip it!

Farang (a Thai word meaning ‘foreigner’ but sometimes used as an insult) or fugly white man (FWM) as I prefer to call him, lives with his Thai girlfriend Lily in her massage studio in Pattaya, together with 5 other women who all practise healing arts. FWM pays the rent on the shop. Naturally, this entitles him to absolute power! Noi, get me coffee! Rose, give me 100 baht! Parn, fuck off! He interrupts their work by sidling up behind them and massaging their backs. He believes showering with his harem is his birthright. He believes respect is a western construct and doesn’t apply here. Beware the certainty of a closed mind.

The drawback to the free accommodation I’ve foolishly accepted in ‘his’ home, is I’ve become his scribe. Two days ago it was novel, excuse the pun, today it’s grave.

This morning FWM has invited a 78 year old woman to the house to massage him, as if he doesn’t get enough, because he wants me to meet her. ‘She’s amazing (everything’s ‘fucking amazing’). He tells me she gets up at 3 a.m., has a cigarette and coffee, gambles every day, and is as young and healthy as a 16 year old’. I’m suspicious. I’ve been instructed to sit in his bedroom during the experience, write my impressions, and photograph it so he can then send my views and images to his accomplices overseas. If I didn’t know better, I’ve already begun hatching my departure plan. In the past 48 hours I’ve heard little else but how many people he’s saved from despair, his meetings with remarkable men, and how lucky the women under his roof are. I’m utterly befuddled by his narcissism.

In the process of setting up, I chance upon a discussion between FWM and Lily. It appears she doesn’t want me to photograph in the room, their bedroom. Fair enough. I wouldn’t want a stranger taking happy snaps in my bedroom either. Clearly, she feels strongly about this, and I’d hazard a guess that there’s some custom or tradition that informs her choices here, but the hostility she is met with concludes he’s made up his mind. I see red. Lily, I won’t photograph the walls in your room, or any of your things, just the bed, I say, gesticulating around. Her English is very limited! Like a projectile vomit, FMW explodes. You will do exactly as I say! I want everything photographed. What about respect for Lily’s wishes I suggest. Get out of my house! Go! Now! he roars.

This departure is bitter sweet. My motherly instinct wants to protect these smiling, subservient, emasculated women; on the other hand, I’m damned if I’ll accommodate his abuse any longer. With pleasure, I want to say.

‘I will see you hanged, like clotpoles, ere I come any more to your tents’ Shakespeare

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