Freud’s famous question has been nagging at me lately, as I navigate the treacherous shoals of the dating game with as many willing partners as I can manage. We Seamen are a fickle lot, unsure and unsteady on the dry and rocky ground of relationships. We feel far more at home sailing the seven (or eight, or nine) seas and only putting into port when cabin fever threatens to take hold. The women so crucial to our happiness are often disappointed with this arrangement and many seek comfort elsewhere after a brief period of flirtation.
A gentle meander around an Indo-China Trade Fair today brought out the Don Juan in me, as I smiled and even swaggered ever-so-slightly, through a maze of giggling Thai, Laotian, Khmer and Vietnamese beauties. I secured several phone numbers, some deliciously naughty smiles, and a Hi5 address (whatever that is) but the truth is that there is usually a hidden agenda in these dalliances, however casual. Some of the women want you, not surprisingly, to buy something from them. Some want to practice their English, (with you, on you, or at you, it matters not.) Some are looking for a traditional, stable relationship with a ‘provider.’ Still others would be happy for you to merely be their benefactor for a short period of time until the rumpy-pumpy becomes yawny-yawny.
A commonly heard expression in Thailand regarding the local lovelies is: “You can tell when they’re lying- their lips are moving.” And I have found this to be true in more than a few cases. Sometimes the girl will present (quite convincingly, I might add) as a sugar-sweet, girl-next-door type, complete with tragic childhood tales and fluffy bunny “Please take me home and hold me” facial expressions, which are actually masking the fact that the reason she was crying on your shoulder the other night was that one of her overseas-dwelling meal-tickets is getting married and won’t be sending any more ‘tokens of affection’ via Western Union Money Transfer. Oh well. As Leo Di Caprio uttered in broad African accent in Blood Diamond “T.I.A.-this is Africa, bru.”
In the West the women I dated were perhaps even more mysterious, as there was never any expectation of money or favours, beyond the obligatory paying for dinner like a proper gentleman. Many of them however, were of the opinion that it was a man’s duty to read their minds, and if anything was ‘wrong’ (and there was ALWAYS something) then it was quite obviously my duty as a male to have not only understood it, recognised it, diagnosed the problem, solved same, and then apologized for having been the cause of it all along. Then preferably leave. Or stay. Or both. It was a tough gig.
A recent admirer who had a unique gift for making me feel frustrated, (which, dear reader, I assure you takes quite some doing) recently intimated that she liked it when I got angry and yelled at her, because my displays of emotion and frustration made her “feel important.” This is not unlike the ‘good girl hopelessly attracted to the bad boy’ scenario played out in countless B-grade teen movies, except in this case the boy is not that bad (all things considered) and the innocent young girl, well…
Yes, Thailand has a plethora of options for the young man about town, but, despite obvious physical differences between the Oriental and the Occidental maidens, they both certainly have one thing in common, and that is the fact there is still no definable answer to dear old Sigmund’s original question. As Norm, of Cheers fame once lamented, “Women…can’t live with ‘em….pass the beer nuts will you