I’m in a bar in Nana. I’m surrounded by single older white men, and women who provide comfort to these men for a price. It’s a fair exchange for a fleeting moment of intimacy. Clean, upfront, no hidden clauses or latent, unspoken expectations. I’m alone and a few of the women who said hi seem curious as to why I’m here drinking on my own and typing on my phone, rather than looking for company.
I just met Min. She came up to me earlier but I said I’m alright, I’m just getting some things done. The waitress Jean is nice, she checked on me and we started talking. She told me she just started in this bar a few weeks ago, and before this she was looking after her mother in her hometown near Pattaya who was sick. I asked Jean how her mother is doing now, and she told me she died. That’s why she could start working again. It was a brain tumour.
Min wears a low-cut red dress, and she looked kind. Not superficially beautiful as some of the younger girls are, and she has wrinkles around her eyes. She from the north-east province, and she started working the bar just a few weeks ago too. Maybe that’s how she and Jean connected - they seem close to each other. I asked what she did during the lockdown, and she told me she was working in the rice fields, and that’s the reason her face is not so smooth. “I work in the sun, I put sunblock but still like this” she says smiling as she runs her hands on her face. She has an 18 year-old son who was admitted for free into two universities, but lodging and food was not included so he decided to stop studying. “I told my son I just started working and I don’t have enough money yet, and he said mama don’t worry, I will stop school and find work. He and I share everything. We are very close.” I can see she is proud of him. “Is he a good boy?” I asked. She burst into a smile and said yes.
Jean comes around again after scanning the bar. She’s a waitress, so she has to greet whoever comes in. She gravitates towards my table, and she asked me whether I’m working in Bangkok. I said I’m just passing through, here to see a few friends on my own. “Alone? Are you lonely?” she asked me. I laugh and said no, I know it’s funny that I’m alone but not lonely, I tell her. Honest, jing-jing! I’m weird I know! No, not gay too! We both laugh. I tell her there are people who love me and who care for me, and there are people I love and care for, and even though they are not with me, they are with me.
She smiles. Min says bye because her friend just came, and I asked for the bill. Jean gets me the bill and asks if I’m ok. I said yes, I am. Very much so.
I stepped unto the pavement, still glistening from the rain earlier, and started walking back pass the street vendors feeding a different hunger. It was a good night.
Thank you, Jean and Min. ❤️