Soon I will be leaving for my annual U.S. pilgrimage. This will involve the usual family and friends visitations plus some serious decompressing. (Bangkok can take a toll on a person.) When I informed the apartment manager I’d be checking out (I lease month-to-month), I mentioned that after I’d left, there would be many women crying in the bars on Soi 4. She got a kick out of this. I laughed too, not realizing how true the joke would turn out to be.

I had been out doing some late-morning chores which included getting a haircut and a bit of shopping followed by a hamburger lunch. (Strangely, I hardly ever eat Thai food.) I was returning to my room when I happened to see Noy #3 (I know three Thai women named Noy), a casual acquaintance, waiting for customers in the parking lot across the street from Nana Plaza. A couple months had passed since our last tryst during which time I hadn’t stayed in touch, so I was not surprised to see her appear faintly annoyed as I approached. As I began talking with her, however, it became clear she was actually very upset.

It’s important to take a moment and review the rules of engagement here. If, after a roll in the hay, the farang customer wishes to see his one-and-only again, it is entirely his choice. There are no obligations unless the woman has somehow wheedled one out of the guy. Both parties go their separate ways. Noy #3 I had seen twice in May, but prior to that it had been two years outside of a few brief hellos.

Yet somehow I had transgressed.

“You not talk to me for two, three months. But I not come to your apartment. Maybe you have mistress. Not want see me.”

I attempted to explain that I had not been feeling well, which was quite true. But more than that, I simply wasn’t interested. My prerogative. But I could not say any of this outright as it could be construed as a loss of face and I was afraid how she’d react.

“You good man. I not come here every day. Today I come, hope see you. I have good man before from Singapore, but he die fourteen years ago.”

No kidding? Not quite sure where this conversation was heading, I tried to regain some control. Gently, I inquired why she had not called or sent me an SMS if getting together was so important. But that went nowhere given her emotional state. Soon I was standing on the sidewalk next to a Thai woman crying her eyes out. (Much later I would find out she is from Laos. Not that that made any difference.)

“You talk good long time with me. Two years (sob). I lucky see you today.”

If so, she was expressing her gratitude at her good fortune in an unusual manner. Not wanting to leave her there, shedding tears on the pavement for all to see, I took her back to the apartment. As we entered, she suddenly kneeled to remove my shoes and socks. This “servant girl” routine was her way of trying to rekindle my affection. But sadly all I could do was gently dissuade her and offer extra Kleenex to staunch the tears that soon started up again, accompanied by her litany of woes. Searching for a way to somehow turn off the hydrant, I told her of my upcoming U.S. vacation, explaining that all my friendships here were coming to an end (at least temporarily). No luck. I was not able to comfort her in any way. She was pining after a connection that in fact had never existed between us.

I ultimately got her to leave by telling her how tired I was. In response, she offered to stay and give me a massage, but I wanted an end to the soap opera. Being turned down, she accused me of liking lady boys (Thai men who dress as women). This struck me as so silly I actually chuckled, then abruptly stopped when I saw her unsmiling face.

She walked out the door without looking back.

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