Saturday, March 18, 2006


Many movies have a message. In that category is The Stepfather. The message here is if your family doesn’t live up to your expectations, kill them off and find a new family. This is a deep probe of the American psyche and it strikes a chord. Not a chord that is ever acted on but one that is there and is felt.

I can identify with this having raised one family and come to Thailand to be a stepfather in another. (No I didn’t kill anyone in my first family.)

My new family recently pissed me off so I went to downtown Bangkok and stayed in a hotel for a few days. From their point of view, that must have been close to killing them. (At least judging by their behavior.)

I had several reasons for getting out of there.

I had recently gotten over a bad cold that confined me and the surroundings had gotten stale. I not only couldn’t write anything, I had an aversion to even thinking about writing. But I can always write in strange bars and cat-houses. They stimulate me mentally. The ladies think I’m a little odd for some reason.

Another reason was I had to learn more about Bangkok night-life. I had lived in Bangkok nearly two years and had never been downtown after 8 PM. I am a homebody.

So I found a place near the action. It was near Sukhumvit and the subway. The hotel was adequate, perhaps halfway between 2nd rate and 3rd rate. Sometime I must compare travel in Thailand with travel in Mexico. The point will be that there is no comparison because Thailand is so superior. I’ve got to investigate the real low class hotels here.

Highlights of my brief escape:

I was near a Subway sandwich place. Sometimes I get a craving for an Italian sandwich with everything on it, dripping in olive oil. (Many years ago on one of my infrequent visits to Teheran I discovered a shop in which I could buy Italian hard salami, French rolls and mustard. This was a great luxury to me. I think the proprietor was mocking the hunger in my eyes. Little things can mean a lot.)

There was a British pub type place near my Bangkok hotel. I could get and excellent steak and kidney pie for breakfast. I had a beer with it. I always have beer with breakfast while on vacation. It pissed me off that the beer cost as much as the steak and kidney pie.

I got so bored I bought a couple of paperbacks, one by John Grisham and one by Robert Ludlum. I finished the Grisham in a day. His writing flows. I may never finish the Ludlum. How the hell did he become a bestselling author? His dialogue is awful. What a struggle to plow through that. I wonder if he’s doing outlines and assigning assistants to fill in the writing.

I sampled the nightlife. I had never seen so many beautiful, virtually naked women in my life. It overwhelmed my senses.

In this one place the stage ran down the center of the establishment. There were ten ladies on the stage dancing around ten poles. They were supposed to be dancing. Rock music was playing but the ladies were just shuffling their feet to the music. That’s not dancing.

I decided, as a public service, to show them how to dance. I asked if any of them wanted to really dance. I had no takers. Finally one little girl who was on a break volunteered. While we danced all other activity stopped. Into the dance my partner raised her shirt to expose her tiny breasts. I raised my shirt to expose my large pot belly.

When we finished we got a round of applause. “Now,” I told them, “go thou and do likewise.” Did they? No. They just continued with their desultory shuffle.

Mama-san was pleased at the demonstration. She gave me a radiant smile. I thought she might hire me as a dance instructor. But no. A smile was all I got. Artists are always underappreciated and underpaid.

I was so bored I wanted to go home after two days. But two days wouldn’t be enough to teach my miscreant family the lesson they deserved.

I stretched it out to three. But then I caved in a bought presents for everyone. They were all grateful for my return as if they thought it might not happen. Their behavior was much improved so I guess their near-death experience was effective.

And my juices started flowing so I could start writing again.

The Stepfather rules.


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