Even in the cities in your neighborhood is called your “village”. Where I live in Surin is toward the edge of the city, but it is quickly these past couple of years being surrounded by more and more city as development and expansion increase what seems nearly daily. Two years ago there were NO farang (foreigner) style department stores that carried foreign foods and goods. Now in the past two years they have erected a Makro Superstore, a Tesco Lotus, and recently the new Big C store opened. Surin is no longer a backwater town, but a thriving city in its own right, even boasting a museum of sorts, many decent upscale restaurants, if you know where to find them, and a good infrastructure and highway system leading in and out of the city and off and beyond to who knows where in the boondocks and the rice fields.
Whenever my wife and Sis are talking about the Surin neighborhood they refer to it as “our village”, which confuses me most times as we do have a house in another “our village”. The real “village” out in the rice fields of Isaan. So I can be easily confused at times this way. But, as Hillary Clinton once said, or titled her book, the world is a village. I just live in a couple of them that are actually referred to as villages. My world is a fucking village, Hillary!
In the Surin neighborhood, sorry, I mean, village we have soi dogs. Each female born grows up and drops another litter. Sometimes people in the neighborhood will take a fancy to one of the pups and take it to raise, or give to a family member or friend to raise. The rest survive on the soi (street), some of us feeding them table scraps. They survive, but are not loved. Most bear the scars of daily survival on the sois, usually a few will be crippled by motocyke and car and truck accidents. The quick and alert look well enough, the slow and stupid are pretty nasty and banged up. As much as I hate them and wish they would just go away or that the government would do something about them, I still feed them myself. I love dogs; but there are dogs, and then there are soi dogs.
Some of the Soi dogs. All basically wild dogs.
One night after a feast of pork ribs, chicken legs and sticking rice I gathered together all the scraps; mostly bone really, as the Thais don’t leave much in the way of any meat, skin, fat or gristle even when they chow down on pork and chicken, and, placing them in a bowl took a stroll the twenty yards down from the house along the soi where the dogs have dug themselves a warren of caverns and wallows in the dirt of an empty lot next to our shop across the street.
There are a couple pups that were born a few months ago, and I try to get the foods to them more so than the adult dogs, but it is tough, and there is no way in hell I want to get bit by these nasty brutes who have never seen a veterinarian in all their born days. No rabies shots or distemper shots or whatever for these dogs. You do not want to get bit. So I toss the scraps around and try to divert the larger dogs while slipping the choicest bits to the pups. The poor things haven’t done anything wrong besides to have been born in Thailand, a land of Buddhists, a land where dog ownership is a farce, and care mostly a façade, true pet care only happens as long as the dog is a pedigree or show dog like the ladies and men on the Thai soap operas on TV have. Status symbols now. Most true Thai dogs, the Thai ridgebacks and spotted soi mutts live a mean life, especially once they are grown. I feel sorry for them, yet want them gone.
While I was feeding the mutts this evening a young Thai woman surprised me by approaching me and speaking to me in fairly understandable and decent English. Most young Thai women in Surin would never do this when alone and unescorted with a stranger, especially a farang stranger, even one as handsome and dashing as myself. So to say the least I was a bit shocked when she approached me and started a conversation with me.
'Hello, sir. What are you doing?' she queried me in greeting.
I looked at her a bit oddly, as I would have thought it was pretty obvious as to what the hell I was doing really, but I answered her politely enough.
'Hello to you, miss. I’m feeding the dogs some scraps we had left from dinner,' I replied.
'Oh, yes, I see,' she says, “Where do you live?”
I pointed down the soi to my house, 'Right there, the house with the orchids hanging in front,' I say in reply.
'Oh, you live here in Surin? Where are you from?' she questions again.
'Well, presently I live here with my wife and daughter, but I am originally from the USA, Boston.' I answer her.
'Oh, Amelica! What are you doing here in Surin?' she asks again. The lady was full of questions. I decide to get in a few of my own.
'Yes, America. My wife and I own the shop right there,' I say, pointing to my shop across the street. “And where do you live Miss?”
'Oh, I live right here,' She says, pointing to the house I am standing in front of, which is maybe three doors down from my own and sits on the corner of a sub-soi off our soi.
I notice she is kind of cute; early to mid twenties in age, a decent body really, nice tits, smooth skin, good smile, silky dark brown hair shoulder length, with a decent clothes sense. She stands and holds herself quite seductively I realize then, with a hint of something on offer. She radiates a sexual heat I guess you would say. It’s hard to describe, but there was an electrical feeling emanating from her. She exuded an air of things to come, of possibilities.
'What’s your name?' she asks a light grin or maybe it was a taunting smirk, barely visible.
'Cent,' I reply, 'What’s your name?'
'Nee,' she states simply. (Not her real name.)
'Your English is very good, Nee. Where did you learn it?' I compliment and query her. Interested now, as she is a bit of a flirt it seems, an enigma where none has crossed my path before. I’m intrigued somewhat, but also in the back of my mind I know there has to be some test here somehow, some catch, neighbors must be watching from behind their curtains, my wife is sitting in the patio in front of our house three doors down. I smile at her, and continue throwing out some bones to the dogs, at a distance from us though, as the dogs make most Thais, women especially, a bit nervous.
'Thank you. I learned from my Canadian boyfriend,' she tells me proudly.
'Oh (now it’s my turn for the ohs), does he live here with you?' I ask, somehow disappointed in the news. Why I have no idea, but it was there.
'Oh no, he is in Vancouver now. I haven’t seen him in a long time. I live here alone, up there,' she points to her bedroom window.
'How nice. We are neighbors it seems. I haven’t seen you around here before. What are you doing here in the village?' I pump for more info, noticing the stress she placed on that word, alone.
'I work as a nurse at the hospital, here in Surin,' she informs me.
'Which one?' I ask her. 'The one right here', I point to where the government hospital sits right over on the next soi from us, 'or the private hospital next to Surin Plaza ?'
'This one here,' she points herself to the nearby hospital.
'I have to go now,' she says, and going to a nearby parked motocyke grabs a helmet and dons it. 'I am going to the market to buy some food. It was nice speaking with you, Cent,' she states, climbing aboard her trusty metal steed. She throws in the clincher, with a smile and a smirk, 'Maybe we will talk again. I like to practice my English.'
'Nice to have met you, Nee.' I smile back. 'Anytime you want to practice your English I’ll be happy to help you.'
'Sawadee ka,' she says, wai-ing me from her motocyke. She starts it up, waves a girlish little wave at me, and putters away into the night soi.
I wave goodbye to her, noticing there are no scraps in the bowl left, and that the dogs have returned to sniff about near me now that she has gone.
I ponder what had just taken place. This was a first for me in our “village”. No woman unknown to me has approached me and started a conversation. After a few minutes hesitation I turn and walk back to my house, shooing away the pesky dogs circling my legs looking for more hand-outs.
I walk into our gate and see my wife is still sitting at the small plastic table where we had eaten our dinner.
'Where you go?' she asks me.
'Huh? Oh, Just out to feed the soi dogs,' I reply to her.
I figure I’d better tell her what had just been my experience, as I know someone saw this exchange, and someone would sometime or another mention it to my wife and it’s better to protect yourself in advance from the inquisition that could possibly follow. These silly little inconsequential things of this nature can always come back and bite a guy in the ass, especially here, especially with a Thai wife. I've lived long enough and been with women long enough to know this is a true possibility, no matter how innocent we are we men are guilty until proven innocent. Best to cover my ass and be as open and upfront about this encounter as possible is my thinking. Never let it be said that Cent doesn’t know how to cover his ass. I know what the heck I am doing, well, as much as is possible where women are concerned. I’ve learned the hard way, and have the scars to prove it.
So I say, innocently, 'Honey, who is this lady Nee who lives down the street?'
'Huh?' she exclaims, jumping up from her seat and approaching me.
'How you know this lady Nee?' she says.
'Uh, well, she just came up to me while I was feeding the soi dogs and started talking with me. Says she’s a nurse who lives in that house on the corner there.' I point down the soi. 'Her English was pretty good.'
'What she say to you, huh?' she inquisitions me.
So I tell her as much as was smart to do so. Meanwhile Sis had come out and joined in a conversation to find out what we were talking about. A furious conversation starts in Lao between them. Much laughing and snorting and such things punctuate their speech. I’m a bit curious to know why they seem to be a bit agitated, and break in with my usual plea, 'English please, ladies. English!'
My wife finally stops chattering with Sis and sort of gives me an explanation.
'This lady, Nee. She is crazy lady. Like to boom-boom man too much. Have too many boyfriends. She even tries to talk to your friend, Dee! (My married Thai friend next door.) All ladies in village hate her too much. She wants to steal man from every lady. Baba bobo (very crazy) lady,' she explains.
'Haha! So, you think she wants to boom-boom me darling?' I joke.
My wife gives me the look. My jokes sometimes are best left unsaid, but my mouth usually runneth over.
Giving me the squint where her small Isaan eyes nearly disappear in her face she says, 'Nee want boom-boom every man. She crazy too much.'
Hmmmm, funny she hadn’t looked crazy to me earlier. The discussion goes inside as Sis and my wife clean up and put things away. More was said, but not much more. I went upstairs to go online and do some work and left them to their own jobs.
A few days later my wife and I were driving down the soi, heading to the Makro store so I could use the ATM to pull out some cash for some food shopping. As I tool down the street in first my wife turns to me, and says, 'Honey?'
'Yes, dear?' I reply, shifting into second and working my way around some asshole that has parked in front of their house in the soi, being too damned lazy to pull into their driveway instead, nearly blocking the already narrow street.
'Remember I say lady Nee talk with you crazy, baba bobo?' she asks me.
I turn to her, wondering what is coming next, and slow down.
'Who?' I say, being cute, and covering my ass.
'You know, lady talk with you in English when you go feed dogs at night?' she says. I wonder if she sees through my nonchalance and short memory. Some do, although I have much practice and can keep a straight face when playing this game. I wonder where this is leading.
'Oh, her. Yeah, what about her, dear?' I reply in a disinterested tone.
'What is word for English, for lady who like to boom-boom too mutt?' she asks me, dropping this little bomb on me.
I turn to her and grin as we reach the corner where I need to turn, 'You mean my wife?' I joke to her.
She hits me and makes a noise like a growl.
'Hey! I’m driving here woman! Be careful, you’ll get us into an accident,' I chide her.
She laughs. 'No, what is dis word for lady make same, want boom-boom man all the time? How say in Englit?'
'Uh, that would be nymphomaniac, dear.' I smile as I reply.
She chokes on the word and mangles it into something unintelligible. I say it to her a few more times until she gets it right.
'Yeah, you’ve got it now,' I tell her as she repeats it correctly a few more times. 'Why do you ask darling?'
'This is name for lady Nee talk with you! Nymphmaniac.' she informs me, pronouncing it close enough for general conversational purposes between us.
I took my eyes off the road to say something in reply to this information and nearly drive the truck into the klong (canal) in the divider between the streets. I jerk the steering wheel to right the truck down the soi and say, 'Get outta here! Really?'
'Jing jing (it’s true)' says my wife. 'Nee boom-boom new man every night in her room. Every night have man in her room! Not same man all the time. Many man come her how (house). She is nympomac.' (Close enough)
I laugh, and say, 'Well I’ll be damned! A nympho in our village. Who’d a thunk it?'
'What you say, sammi (husband)? Why you laugh?' she watches me closely.
'Nothing, dear. Just joking.' I chuckle. I reach the next turn and watch the traffic for a break so I can turn toward the Makro store.
I ask her, 'So, you think she is a nymphomaniac, huh?'
'Yes,' she states emphatically.
'Well, what about me? I like to boom-boom every night. You think I am a nymphomaniac?' I tease her.
She hits me and says, 'You think boom-boom too mutt, always think boom-boom. Maybe same-same Nee I think, but only do same with me, not butterfly.' She smiles, and hits me again.
'You stay away Nee, sammi. She no good. Want to fuck all man,' she says sternly.
'No problem boss,' I say. 'I have my own nymphomaniac in my bedroom, my wife.'
She laughs again in that way I like that is so damned sexy, and says, 'You think so?' She grins wickedly and grabs ol’ Godzilla and makes me jump.
'Yeah,' I growl to her, 'I think so. I think there’s more than one nymphomaniac on our soi (street).'
She smiles at me and chuckles, and says, 'Sammi ba (husband crazy). Think sex all the time.'
'Yep, and I never hear you complaining at night sweetheart, unless all that moaning and groaning and squeaking is complaining.' I leer at her.
She blushes, and believe me it is a sexy sight to see a brown Isaan lass blush, and tells me, 'You talk too mutt.' But I can see her grin as she turns her face to her door window in its reflection.
We turn into the Makro parking lot and go get our baht and food.
I love this place.
(The Central Scrutinizer)