“She had just severed a longtime, abusive relationship; and to her dismay, felt like she was back to square one in her life.”
I had just ended a similar relationship, a relationship full of infidelity, lies, and heartbreak. And being a veteran of starting over (and over), I knew it was ‘tabula rasa'(clean slate) time in my life – again.
So, fed up with the way things were in the past, we both wanted a new, fresh beginning.”
“Prosperity: The eternal flow of all that’s good in life…”
*Below is the sixth episode in a series of real life events experienced by the author. The only deviations from the truth may be the names of people and places.
– The Other Side of the Coin –
I’m sitting here at my laptop, drinking my favorite (meaning: currently available) Thai beer, listening to my favorite old Rock songs, and watching Nueng prepare dinner. It always amazes me how she can prepare banquets fit for Thai Royalty every night on our tiny, one skillet, propane tank “stove.” Today, as usual, she went to the market, shopped for fresh food, and is now cooking dinner for us.
She also remembered to buy anything I needed for the rest of the day and for tomorrow’s workday (i.e., beer, phone card, breath mints, etc.)
Wow. And to think, three short months ago I was miserable! I was dealing with the lying, cheating, very expensive, and now, “ex-girlfriend.”
Living with Nueng, I naturally compare her to the ex.
There’s no comparison.
In fact, they are total opposites in almost all respects! It’s like I’m finally experiencing “the Other Side of the Coin” – the Good Side.
– Stark Contrasts –
First off is appearance. All my life I preferred dark-skinned women. The ex was the first fair-skinned woman I’d been with in a very long time. When I first met her, her pale, white skin didn’t attract me at all – mainly because I’m a Falang (Thai: foreigner).
I guess it’s true what they say about beauty and preferences: 1) Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and 2) People usually prefer the opposite of what they see everyday.
For example, Asia is predominantly populated by brown skin people, but white skin is almost always preferred over dark skin.
Anyone who has spent time in Asia (Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, etc.) has noticed how the local people, especially children and women, scurry around trying to avoid the sun. Every form of skin whitening product (e.g., soap, shampoo, facial cream, body lotion, deodorants, anti-perspirants, etc.) is available – and wildly popular – in all Asian stores.
You see, in Asia, white skin is considered more beautiful than dark skin – the total opposite of most Western countries. The reason for this? My guess would be the implied Economic and Social status: In Asia, dark skin instantly conjures up visions of poor, uneducated, farm people toiling away in the hot sun; while their rich, whiter skinned countrymen have wealthy relatives, are college educated, and work indoors, away from all tanning rays.
In contrast, most Westerners seek out dark skin (both for themselves and their mates). They go to the beach and pay exorbitant fees at the Tanning Salon. In the United States especially, tanned skin implies that you are financially well off enough to spend a lot of time outside in the sun, playing volleyball, golf, or tennis, etc.
For the same socio-economic reasons, a similar dichotomy of opinions exists about body type: Westerners prefer slim figures, while Asians prefer people with a little “meat on their bones.” In other words, in Asia, being thin is associated with poverty, while a little fat means you have enough money to eat well.
Nueng has beautiful, brown skin – the kind of skin that most tourists look for in places like Hawaii, Guam, or Bali. Nueng is about 5′ 5″, where the ex was barely 5’ 1″ tall.
Nueng’s athletic body is strong and sexy, reflecting her upbringing “up country” – the region northeast of Bangkok where the people are identified as “Isaan.” Isaan Thai’s are regarded as hard working and fun loving; satisfied with a simpler lifestyle than their sophisticated Bangkok counterparts. They are also darker skinned.
Traditional Isaan life requires a lot of daily physical labor, labor that surpasses the exertion required for most American farms
Juxtaposed with Nueng, the ex was petite, ultra-feminine, and fragile. She came from a city in Laos and was not used to much manual labor. I can still remember her complaining about going up and down the stairs of my townhouse.
– Domestics –
Nueng comes from a large family: three “Pee Chai” (Thai: older brother/s), two “Nong Chai” (younger brother/s), and one “Nong Sao” (younger sister). With no “Pee Sao” (older sister) to help her and her mother in their big family’s house chores, Nueng learned early how to cook, clean, wash clothes, and look after her younger siblings.
She was industrious too. At age 7, Nueng would come home from elementary school and then clean the house of a neighbor until late into the evening. This was done for 60 baht per day (the equivalent of $1.70). As an adult, she was the breadwinner for her and her lazy, “no-job, no-money” boyfriend. She would wash and iron other people’s clothes, cook at a local food stand, and serve drinks at a local pub – while keeping up with her own housework and cooking.
Needless to say, I’ve never lived so contently and cleanly since I’ve been in Thailand. Our townhouse is always spotless. My clothes are always fresh smelling and expertly pressed. And, as mentioned before, I enjoy home-cooked meals fit for a king almost every night (with the exception being when I take her out for dinner on the weekends).
Comparison time again.
The ex-girlfriend was pretty lame at domestics. I was the one who routinely washed the clothes and did the dishes. I ALWAYS did the ironing. I cleaned the condominium we lived in when we met (and then cleaned the townhouse we moved into before breaking up).
Working 50-60 hours a week AND doing all the housework, laundry, and bill paying left me chronically exhausted 방콕변마.
What did the ex-girlfriend do all day while I was working? I’m not really sure, but I’d guess most of her day was spent sleeping, watching T.V., or cavorting with her friends; or, as I found out later, maybe even sneaking in a secret date with one of her other men.
I’m not a chauvinist. In fact, like most Falangs in Thailand, I habitually share in all domestic responsibilities. It’s just that I was always so tired working long hours, THEN coming home to “work.” And after a few months of “hinting,” I realized that domestic work was not the ex’s forte.
The resentment slowly grew. Finally, I threw subtly out the window, semi-feigned anger, and basically told her to get off her lazy butt and help me.
This tactic only worked for two or three days. Then it was back to the old routine of cleaning up after her and scrambling every morning for something appropriate to wear to work; finally ending up doing the laundry by myself – again.
Looking back, I’d always hoped that she (the ex-girlfriend) would change. I mean, I didn’t want a “maid,” but an equal, fair sharing of the housework would have made my life so much easier. I guess I was asking the ex to do something she wasn’t accustomed to (or even capable of).
Now, with Nueng, I hardly lift a finger at home. She even scolds me if I try to do something she feels is “HER RESPONSIBILITY.” What a change! I’m not fatigued all the time anymore. Nueng does her thing while I’m at work, so we can enjoy good, quality time together when I come home. What a change, indeed!
Yes, living in “The Flow” is wonderful. My days are filled with laughter, smiles, love, and beauty.
I thank the Original Substance (God) everyday that Nueng and I decided to end our old relationships and begin anew…