It’s Wan’s Birthday!

Wan the laundress is one of my best friends on Soi 4. Whenever I go by her place, usually on the other side of the street out of habit, she runs across to give me a hug and asks where I’m going. Then she suggests we “go together” — a Thai euphemism for intimate relations. All in good fun, of course, though it does provide a glimpse into how she is thinking. (Because this display of affection started up sometime last October, after years of her stoically doing my laundry with only a rare smile, I can’t help but wonder if maybe she has become divorced or separated. I certainly have not gotten more handsome.)

Beyond the friendliness, Wan has surprised me on a couple of occasions. Once, when I was struggling in the heat with six 1.5 liter bottles of water purchased at the 7-Eleven, Wan rushed over, relieved me of my burden, and carried it the remaining three blocks to my apartment complex. (I was impressed!) On April 5, when I was returning home, she strolled over to wish me a happy birthday for the following day. (And how she remembered that I have no idea. The only time I might have mentioned it would have been a year ago.)

Wan’s own special day of finding herself a year older was last Sunday and was celebrated in front of her laundromat. There was lively Thai music and bags of soup and rice handed out to anyone who happened to stop by. (A nice gesture in light of the covid-19 deprivations.) I only spent a few minutes there, long enough to leave my gift and take a few pictures. Later that evening I happened to pass by a second time and received a special kiss from the birthday girl.

I wish her all the best. Few people I know deserve it more.

The one on the left.

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