Thai women who interact with foreigners on a regular basis here usually come up with a special one-syllable name so the Long Noses can more easily pronounce and remember them. Usually this is a derivative of their real name, which we dim-witted foreigners cannot even begin to spit out. For example, “Porn” instead of, say, Pornswalansomesai.
For this reason, I have come to know two “Newts” (three if we count Newt Gingrich, but I’m not interesting in dating him). The first girl is one I sometimes play pool with. The second works as a masseuse in the hotel adjacent to my apartment building and is the one I’m going to talk about.
In an earlier post, I’ve described this Newt as sentinel because I some-times encounter her late at night on my way home. I like to ply her with chocolate to try and stay on her good side, especially since I have not had her over for a very long while — and that was for a massage only.
Following my vacation, and despite her work proximity, I did not see my guard duty woman until I’d been back in Bangkok almost a month. Then I went to the 7-Eleven for some milk. As I entered the store, I stepped around the back of a lady with shoulder-length light brown hair wearing a short, tight skirt that quickly gave way to a pair of long, shapely legs. Of course women dressed in this manner are by no means a rarity in my neighborhood — indeed, that’s why I live here — but this one had none of the slightly grubby, worse-for-wear aspect that overtakes so many of them. All the pieces were still firmly in place. It was only after I’d passed by that I recognized Newt’s slow, syrupy voice.
I made a quick beeline for the candy section for some chocolate, but by the time I’d grabbed a Hershey’s bar and turned back towards the door, my Newt had departed. I got my milk, paid for everything, then quickly stepped out onto the sidewalk, anxiously scanning in both directions. I needn’t have worried; it was impossible to miss her. Even from over two blocks away, strolling into the hotel, Newt’s suggestive outfit shined like a kind of sexual beacon. I swiftly covered the intervening ground.
Our brief “chocolate reunion” went so well that Newt asked if I wanted a massage (back in March I’d tried to schedule an impromptu one, only to have her spurn me by hiding in a back room). This time I agreed and she came over to my apartment at eight that evening, wearing a traditional long Thai dress that discouraged notions of any hanky-panky, at least for this session.
This was not the same lady from that first massage I’d gotten over two years before. Her English had dramatically improved, and her manner was warmer and friendlier; less predatory. As I received a delicate oil massage, we were able to cover a few topics such as her kids (of course) and the types of movies we prefer. To my surprise, Newt isn’t a fan of romantic flicks — they make her feel bad about her life. She’s much more into horror. As we shared the thrills of being scared witless, the shower head in the bathroom (which Newt had not fully re-attached to its holder when she freshened up) suddenly dropped onto the tiled floor, causing us both to jump.
Over the course of the hour-long appointment, I found myself experienc-ing a degree of comfort and sympathy towards the woman that I’d never felt before. And when she mentioned that some nights she watches for me because she doesn’t have enough money for dinner, it tugged at my heartstrings. (As I’ve mentioned before, the pay these women receive is abominable. For the oil massage, New would get but one hundred baht ($3) with the remaining four hundred ($12) going to her miserly boss. To help even the score, I provided a tip equal to the entire price. Screw you, Ebenezer.)
As the rubbing gradually wound down, I could not resist the urge to show Newt my small collection of horror DVDs. She asked to borrow a couple to help pass the long hours spent waiting for customers. Delighted to find someone who shared my morbid tastes, I lent out Evil Dead and the 1981 classic An American Werewolf in London. Perhaps the gruesome cover photos combined with the shower head crash had spooked Newt — she asked me to walk her back to work, about a twenty meter stroll. Ever the gentleman, I was pleased to keep help the monsters at bay.