Writing about a former one and only, even from the vantage point of over a year, is a bit like trying to digest a meal that didn’t quite agree with me. Though I have touted in my postings some of the benefits of East-West relationships, the cultural differences can work both ways and many a couple have parted from an inability to comprehend the other’s perspective. Such was the case here.
For the first month and a half we were together (in late 2012), I had thought I had a winner in Suntaya. When I met her, I was impressed with her sophistication. Instead of proposing the usual tryst back at my place, she suggested we go for coffee. We ended up having a long talk and subsequently made a dinner date. This also went very well, especially when I discovered she was reading a book about Adolf Hitler, which dovetailed nicely with my interest in history. And it turned out we loved the same kind of Thai dish: chicken in green curry sauce.
Because the chemistry was there and this seemed to be a woman with some smarts, I decided to employ Suntaya as combination girlfriend and tour guide. Every week or so she would come over to the apartment for a few days of fun. We’d visit bookstores, share exotic lunches, play pool, and shop for our dinners. Then at least once during each stay she’d take me to a museum or park — someplace I’d never been before. In return I paid her a monthly “salary”. A bit on the pricey side, but considering all I was getting in return, worth it.
This turned out to be arguably the most fun I’ve had with an Asian woman. Returning to my place following an eventful day, we’d take a sunset swim in the apartment pool where at her request, I taught Suntaya how to do the backstroke. Evenings were usually wine and cheese affairs as we listened to Western pop music (oldies), or maybe watched some Nazi-themed DVD she had picked out. I truly felt I’d uncovered a gem.
Then came Christmas Eve of 2012 when things went awry. After we’d consumed a couple glasses of wine to celebrate, I discovered Suntaya had issues with the way I was using my new MacBook Air laptop. Huh? As a former IT professional, I found her opinions silly and perplexing. Why should she be critical of, or even care, about the Food Group spreadsheet I’d proudly created to track my eating? Maybe there was an element of jealousy involved. Or perhaps it had to do with her only achieving a grade school education and having limited interest in new things.
It got worse. My idea for us to fly down to Koa Samui Island in late January to take in the full moon was casually dismissed in favor of Valentine’s Day (“More expensive, but more romantic”). End of discussion. And at bedtime Suntaya insisted on lowering the air conditioner setting to 21 degrees Celsius, transforming (for me at least) what should have been an intimate snuggle into a polar camp out. The next morning, after chipping the ice off the door knob, I sent her home while trying to conceal my sense of relief. Later that afternoon I broke up via email, despite a bag of goodies she had left on my doorknob as an apology. (A gesture that might have worked had there been but a single disagreement.)
Even now, a year later, I am still unable to make much sense of the “new” Suntaya that was unveiled that Christmas Eve: bossy and with a vague disdain for my way of doing things. Not a recommended way to behave in a cross-cultural relationship and in that respect I’m very fortunate she showed her true colors early on, before things became serious. I do not miss her, and since the breakup have had no desire for another Thai girlfriend. The differences are too great.
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