I’m Looking at Nong in Her School Uniform”


Why I Can’t Get any Writing done in Thailand


It was going to be a good writing day. I had that feeling. Sometimes you just know. Some days you struggle, curse, drink and swear; other days it all comes out as if your fictional characters are writing the book for you and you’re just taking dictation. I knew this day would be a good one, the type every writer loves.

So I was at the computer, cold beer beside it, more in the fridge where that came from, studying the work I’d done the day before, ready to rock and roll. Then my cell phone rang. Not being in business, I get few calls so I usually leave it open even when writing.

It was an SMS message from somebody. It was from Dave, my scuba diving buddy, who had just married a lovely lady from Buriram. It said, “I am looking at Nong in her school uniform.” I should explain.

Three weeks earlier I had gone with them to attend their wedding in Buriram. One of the bride’s friends was a lovely 21-year-old college student in her third year. And was said to be a virgin. Virgins being rarer than unicorns in modern Thailand, that fact kind of floored me.

Anyway, during the outside reception in front of the tiny house in the tiny village in the middle of pea green rice fields, one of the elderly farmers got enough rice liquor in him to get up from his table of elderly rice farmers and wander over to ours to talk with the farangs. I hadn’t known this area had once been a Communist training ground but now it was all safe and sound. I wondered what he had done during that period.

The farmer gave me a missing-tooth grin and started grilling me on whether I was married, why not, and when would I, and all that sort of gobbledygook. I told him that I had been divorced from a Hong Kong Chinese woman for many years but was in fact marrying again very soon. When he asked when and where I answered next week right there. Of course I did this because I was aware that our conversation had the attention of the women at the next table including Nong. So when the old man asked who I was marrying I gestured and said “Khun Nong.”

The women laughed a great deal but I did hear Nong’s friend ask her if she wanted that and I heard her say emphatically “yes.” Still, I thought no more of it and after a few days returned to Bangkok.

But it was now three weeks after the wedding and Dave and his wife had returned to Buriram to see her parents. And they saw Nong. Hence, Dave was so considerate as to send me that message from Buriram.

So I stared at the message for a few minutes determined to ignore it and keep writing. I went through the motions for nearly ten minutes, but then of course as all weak-willed people do, I gave in, and sent a message back: “What color is the uniform?”

I did manage to start writing again in the few minutes before his reply came but his reply was: “White blouse, long black skirt.”

Great. I could see the once promising writing day evaporating before my eyes. Now, I would sit and stare at the computer screen and think of Nong with her beautiful face, her long, lustrous, black hair and chocolate brown complexion and willowy figure in her white and black school uniform - or I could try to write. So I struggled with that dilemma for a bit before getting off the next message: “Is the skirt pleated?”

The message came back almost immediately: “Yes.”

I sent the message back immediately: “I want!”

Then, blissfully, all was quiet for nearly an hour and I thought well, that was that. And I was actually getting some writing done. Characterization, plot, pace, it was going the way it should be going. Then the phone rang again. Someone was sending me a message. I said to myself: Jesus Christ, you’re an adult! Act like one! If you have any strength of character at all, you’ll wait until tonight to look at that message. Of course, while I was thinking that, I was opening the message.

It was from Dave: “Nong has school holidays soon and may be in Bangkok for ten days. Can she stay with you?”

OK, now this was getting serious. Now I had to think carefully and sensibly and with the wisdom of an older man. I mean, I do have some sense of perspective on life and have gained some maturity over the years.

I looked at it this way: I am a writer. I have a lot of projects I need to get done. I am much, much older than this young woman, and nothing of lasting value could possibly come out of her staying with me for ten days. It would be the wrong thing to do! Nong, on the other hand, was a beautiful 21-year-old Thai virgin college student with long black hair, a great smile, a great figure, and the exact shade of dark brown complexion that drives me nuts.

I continued to lecture myself: “Look, you long-in-the-tooth, oversexed, immature, satyr, she is 21 years old, speaks very little English, and you don’t have ten days to waste. You would end up getting very little work done. Not to mention the expense of all the Viagra you’d have to buy. And what if she falls in love with you or you with her or even if you both fall for each other? It would be a disaster. Besides, you cherish your freedom, remember? You’re an aging, cynical, intellectual who loves to read and write books; she’s a college student at the age where she probably loves discos and karaoke. IT WOULD BE THE WRONG THING TO DO!

I reflected on this for quite some time, maybe all of ten seconds, then grabbed the cell phone. I wrote: “Many thanks, but I don’t think so.” And then I pushed the send button.

Then I checked the message I just sent. It read: “If she brings her school uniform.”

Jesus Christ, my little brain had taken over from my big brain automatically! Some kind of automatic pilot was in control of my actions! Like Donald Sutherland being taken over in that movie about the body snatchers but in my case it’s my own body!

Alas, as it turned out, I had to be in the States while Nong was having her vacation and so the tryst was not to be. Not yet, at least.

But that is one example of why I can’t get any writing done in Thailand. Why can’t Western women who detest men like me realize I’m the victim here?