“The Dating Game” Marriage Part III

One of my favorite things to do in my free time is sit around and watch the people pass by. While in many places around the world this may seem like about as much fun as watching some water boil; can you imagine sitting on the porch in Comfort , Texas waiting for something interesting to happen?Around these parts “people watching” can not only be interesting, but down right funny. In Pattaya you get all types. 90 year old men walking the streets with his 18 yr old, super model like, girlfriend. Even worse, his 18 year old boyfriend. And even worse, his 18 year old girlfriend , that is really his 18 yr old boyfriend. While I do not wish to offend any of the locals, I have to be honest with you, because while it is all very amusing to watch, it all seems rather sad and even disturbing at times. I get a knot in my stomach when I see this 90 year old man hand in hand with his cute little boyfriend. His boyfriend, who happened to learn how act gay by watching western movies; most likely he isnt even gay. I have many gay friends back home in the states, and none of them fit any real stereotype. These guys here seem as if they all went to the same school. The girls on the other hand, well, lets just say they could sell a pound of sugar to a diabetic if they had to. These girls are good. They will make even the most grotesque person feel like Elvis. There are couples on every corner, and occupy most of the space in between the corners. If you didn’t know any better, you would think that this was the city of love. Smiling lovers arm in arm, hugging, kissing, smiling, and even the occasional pat on the butt. While being completely unacceptable in the real Thai world, the love in this place exceeds all cultural differences. O.K , so not really. If you stand around long enough you will hear the typical ” I love you so much, you are the most handsome man in the world! I need some money to buy some new clothes, can you give me 100,000,000. Baht? ” close line. In my “sitting” I have seen it all. There are more open wallets in this town than there are places to spend it; there are a lot of places to spend it. In my opinion, there is nothing more than buisness below the surface. “Show me the money!” A will not go as far as to say that there are no true couples in Pattaya, I happen to know a few wonderful ones, but on average, “dating”, in Pattaya is nothing more than a buisness arrangement. Many men know just as well, and don’t care the less, but the majority really have no idea that they are nothing more than a piece of the local economy. I mean, you don’t take a short plane trip and all the sudden turn into Brad Pitt, or Sean Connery. When Saam and I first met we never set off to start “Dating”. At the time, i did not have the first clue what “dating” in Thailand consisted of. Mom can attest that for most of my life I’ve had little trouble in finding a girlfriend. Infact, It is difficult to recall a time without one. Don’t think for a minute that this is something I’m proud of, I’m not hardly. I would do things a bit differently had I the opportunity, however, our past is our greatest Teacher, and I would not give up all the mistakes and bad descisions that I made for anything in the world. When I was younger, dating was a game. It was just something any normal kid would do. See each other at school, maybe go out on a friday; some stupid party where everyone thought we had to get drunk in order to have fun. It was sort of fun at the time, but I didn’t know any better. You spent your time together thinking about ways to be alone, and if you were lucky, you might even have sex. Ah! The ultimate goal of the “Dating” game. Maybe I am alone( I don’t believe so) but somewhere in my subconscious, sex was all that I really wanted. I would make myself believe that I was in “Love”. Even cry a little if things took a turn for the worst, but underneath it all, it was sex on the mind. I don’t know what when things changed, but one day I woke up bored with all that mess. Something was missing. Despite being labeled as “crazy”, “stupid”, “weird, and maybe even Gay( I don’t know), I made a promise to myself that the next woman that I had sex with would be my wife. Despite the thoughts of some, I have held firm to that promise for some YEARS now. unfortunately I have had my share as a youngster and ever take that back, I have learned to see what is in my mind most important– the other person. This works for me, and is what I feel to be right. I know that Each of us is a bit different, and maybe you can’t see it, no problems here. Regardless , my years of abstinence has prepared me for a life in Thailand. While life in Pattaya might seem like a bowl of cherries, Thailand as a whole is a bit more complicated. As I have said before, that for a man with western values, life can be very challenging. So when Saam and I actually realized that we were a “couple” we were thinking in two different contexts. Me, looking at our relationship through the only world I’d ever known, and Saam through the “world” of Thailand. The younger “internet kids” are a bit different, as they can see life from a worlds perspective, but for most Thai woman “dating” is a one way highway. You date one person with the intentions to one day marry that person. It’s not a game, and it’s taken very serious. Nowadays women may date many times, but they must be very careful as to protect their name. If a girl is seen to have had to many boyfriends, she will eventually be written off as “used up”. This comes from the fact that Thai people see most couples who have been together very long to have had sex. while pre maritial sex is not approved of, it’s accepted. It’s accepted because Thais believe that if you have been together long enough, you are technically married. Well, if that relationship happens to end, things get rough. That woman is now used goods. Who would want her now, who will pay the dowry( we will get to this soon) of a woman who is no longer pure? Thai men are not scrutinized in the same way, to make a long story short, they are men and therefore can’t really help themselves. Don’t think for a minute that westerners started the idea of prostitution here in Thailand. Due to the abstinence of most Thai women of old, brothels were a nescesity. Infact, for a Thai man to have enough money to support several “smaller wives”(mistresses), would be a source of great respect. While this makes many Thais angry, it is nonetheless tolerated. As for me and Saam? Well, we have been “courting” long enough to be deemed as having had sexual relations. Not only this, but she has brought me home to her village, not once, but two times. In Thailand, by doing this, you expose yourself to the watchful eyes of not only your family, but all the villagers. You and your boyfriend are now the topic of all conversations, and will most likely remain so until marriage. Even more so, if your boyfriend happens to be a westerner(we have a bit of a reputation). Saam took huge risk, as do most woman who bring their boyfriend home. She took the first step in announcing to what is here world, her intentions to marry. I of course did not understand this to be the case at the time, and certainly not the seriousness. It did not take long to catch on. Within the first hour of arrival, complete strangers were asking how much I was prepared to pay for Saams dowry, when we would marry, how long it takes to get dressed in the morning, etc.. I noticed right off the bat that all of the questions seemed to lead back to marriage. This “dowry” thing seemed to be pretty popular subject too, and to be honest, I had now idea they were talking about a dowry. I only knew that everybody was talking about. Things calmed down a bit after about an hour. I had just driven 13 hours straight, hadn’t slept in two days, and was surrounded by 40 strangers that happen to speak a completely different dialect of Thai that I had learned. The best part was that in typical Thai fashion, everyone wanted to talk to me at simultaneously. Some of you might be very impressed at the patience I showed, as my head was about to explode. I spent the night talking, and talking, and talking. I spent the next day talking, and talking, and talking. I would imagine that none of us understood more than 50% of what was actually was said. They speak mixture of Thai and Laos in the East, and while I am better learned now, I don’t speak or hear it enough to be involved in any serious conversations. All things said, most of the weekend was spent meeting my new family, which amounts to everyone in the the village, and them meeting theirs newest member. By the third day, I was officially labelled “Luuk Kuhy” or son-in-law by Saams mom, and “lahn kuhy” or nephew-in-law, by everyone else. Can you see the big picture? From the minute we started “dating” we were actually preparing for marriage in the Thais eyes. Dating was never actually part of the picture. For me it was a different matter at first, but I must say that I am very happy where we are in our relationship, and welcome our future marriage with open arms. So all this leads to the much anticipated “marriage in Thailand” blog. Thankfully it will be the last post on this topic. Next time we will get into the process of marriage and the infamous “dowry”. Until then….


~ by Scott on Thursday, July 14, 2005.

One Response to ““The Dating Game” Marriage Part III”

  1. Hey Scott, this is Carol, your grandmother’s stepdaughter. I applaud your decision to check out Thailand and immerse yourself in the culture. What is the primary religion there? In other words, who will marry you two? I had a friend in Dallas who was the photographer at a Thai wedding and he said it was really something. Quite an affair to remember w/ the roasted pig, etc. I think that was really bold and cool of you to go over there. Saam is very pretty (I saw her photograph). Will yall stay there or come back to Texas? Best wishes!

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