AND THEN THE LIGHTS WENT OUT
I sometimes wonder if when it comes to the subject of women I am a bit suicidal. The more I attempt to defend myself the more trouble I seem to get myself in. I think if I give a few examples of what I mean it will become clear and perhaps the reader will discover that he has also found himself in similar predicaments.
The first example happened to a Canadian friend of mine living in Bangkok. It was his Canadian wife’s birthday and he took her to an expensive meal on a rooftop restaurant of one of Bangkok’s tallest buildings. Unfortunately, since arriving in Bangkok he had not been completely faithful to his wife and had taken more than one Thai woman to dinner previously. None of whom smoked.
They had reserved a table and had a wonderful view of Bangkok and the night was beautiful. They sat down and a waiter approached and as my friend did not smoke the first thing he did was to pick up the ashtray to hand it to the waiter for him to take it away. Alas, his wife did smoke and she said, “Hey! What are you doing?” My friend looked at her and realization dawned and (without thinking of course) said, “Oh! You’re the smoker.” Needless to say the night and eventually the marriage itself was not smooth sailing.
When I lived in New York, the girl I lived with was aware that I had lived in Hong Kong for 17 years. At that time there had been a direct THAI International flight between Hong Kong and Chiang Mai, City of Roses. And as my publishing company in Hong Kong produced Sawasdee magazine for THAI I often visited Chiang Mai writing articles and photographing.
At one point I had taken a Thai woman from Chiang Mai to Hong Kong for a short visit as, well, it seemed the right thing to do at the time. The Chinese and British officials at Hong Kong’s Kai Tak airport seemed a bit skeptical that I was bringing her in as a “research assistant” but after a bit of a wrangle, I successfully got her in.
Years later I moved to Manhattan. I honestly don’t remember how she found out, but the girl I lived with was aware that I had taken more than one Thai “research assistant” to Hong Kong and, unfortunately, she was not the type of woman who believed that what a man did before she met him was none of her business.
The Thai girl in question was named Gee. And over a several month period I remember complaints about my bringing Gee to Hong Kong on numerous occasions. Until finally – without thinking of course – I said exactly the wrong thing. Now ask yourself this question: What is the worst thing you can do when another Asian lady complains about your relationship with a Thai woman. Give up? I corrected her tone! I said, “It’s not Gee, falling tone, it’s Geeee, with a rising tone.” And then the lights went out.
And, again, when I was still living in New York with the same woman, I began reading the poem of an ancient Chinese poet who described an idyllic, remote and mysterious utopia known as Peach Blossom Spring. Although most Chinese regard it as fiction, I decided – after a few rounds of black Russians and Wild Turkey on the rocks – that clues in the poem suggested this pastoral paradise was a real place and I was determined to find it. And so I flew to China in search of the real Peach Blossom Spring.
I flew first to Hong Kong and at some point decided I might as well stop over in Bangkok as well, as it seemed like a good idea at the time. After traveling through the mountains of Hunan Province in search of Peach Blossom Spring I returned to New York. My suspicious girlfriend – knowing my character or lack of same – accused me of having had sex in China, Hong Kong and Thailand. I was of course indignant and offended and determined to defend myself and replied – again without thinking it out in advance of course – “I did not have sex with any women in Hong Kong!” And then the lights went out.
The worst case, however, was yet to come. While still living in New York with the same by now extremely suspicious lady, I flew to Las Vegas, Nevada for a writers’ conference. While there I decided to drive out to the next county where brothels are legal and just for fun, of course, check one out, as it seemed like a good idea at the time.
The one I chose was called The Cherry Patch Ranch and while there I purchased a cool T-shirt with the words “Cherry Patch Ranch” on it and probably a design as well, but at this late date memory doesn’t serve up the details. I am to this day not sure why I bought it but I no doubt thought that there were places in the New York apartment where I could safely tuck it away from prying eyes. As Arnold Schwarzenegger would say, “Big mistake!” “Bad move!”
Sure enough, within a week the lady in question had come upon it and “furious” would be too mild a description of her mood. I was once again determined to set things right and explained again and again that they sell the T-shirts along with all the other brothel T-shirts in gift stores in Las Vegas. (Which for all I knew they might have done.)
Finally, I had her convinced and she apologized for her unwarranted suspicion. And then, attempting to put an end to it once and for all, and perhaps wallowing a bit too much in my unaccustomed position of being on the receiving end of an apology, I made a mistake. It is the mistake known as providing TMI (Too Much Information).
I said, “As I told you, Las Vegas has no brothels; men who frequent such places have to go to the next county over! Do you seriously think that I’m the kind of man who rents a car and drives 60 miles out on route 95 through Indian Springs and Cactus Springs and then makes a left at the Texaco station and drives on a bumpy, barely paved road with tumbleweed flying-” And then the lights went out.
Dean Barrett © 2014