It’s time to admit to a perversion that goes beyond my affection for the Washington State Cougars football team: I have developed a fascination with Thai women who smoke. Not all of them; just the ones who do it in a slow, sensual manner.
Unfortunately, smoking is becoming less and less popular in Thailand. The government forces tobacco companies to adorn each pack with pic-tures of tumours, eaten-out throats and receding, blackened gums. (The people posing for these photos look almost as miserable as WSU football fans come early November.) However, this does not seem to deter certain segments of the population. For example, I’ve never witnessed a Thai bar girl, overcome by the gruesome photos, crush out her half-smoked Men-thol L & M in revulsion.
My favorite smoker can be found just down the road from my apartment, a couple blocks from the go-gos of Nana Plaza. Her working name is “Kinky Girl Cat”, a Fetish Mistress who at age thirty is still “working her way through school”. She specializes in the kind of activities that most of us would not want to know the details about, but has nonetheless become my evening nicotine-watching fix.
“Hello Cat! How are you?”
“Oh, Monte! I OK, but no customers tonight. You want spanking?”
“Ah, no thanks. But I have a present for you!”
“L & M cigarettes? Why you give me?”
“It’s because I care.”
Baffled by my generosity, she nevertheless opens the pack, pries out the first pleasure stick and prepares to light up.
“Do people smoke in your country?”
“Not many. Smoking is a dirty, filthy habit… Is your lighter working? Here, I brought one with me.”
“I not need…” A brief flash. The first, deep breath and slow exhale. “Tell me really, why people not smoke in America?”
Mesmerized by the wafting carcinogenic fumes, I’m slow to reply.
“Huh? What did you say? Oh, about smokers in America. Well, the gov-ernment makes rules. For example, no smoking in public places.”
“What ‘public places’ mean?”
“Restaurants and bars. Customers must go outside and smoke twenty-five feet away.”
“How they know twenty-five feet?”
“It is where all the cigarette butts are lying on the ground. And in Seattle, if they are near running water, I think they also have to wear some kind of life jacket.”
“Not important. Seattle wants smokers to feel bad.”
“If feel bad, tell them to come Bangkok. They can smoke no problem and I whip them good!”
And so my faith in human nature remains unshaken, knowing there are compassionate people like Mistress Cat; a kind of erotic Statue of Liberty beckoning to all nations for their poor, their perverted, their three-pack-a-day sufferers, all longing to be free.