I live with a professional card player. I never planned it like that, I knew she liked games of chance when I met her; she was playing dominoes with a group of women in a restaurant in Chiang Mai but I just thought it was a Thai woman thing.
Later we went back to her home province and I built a house on some land she owned and we settled down to a few years of domesticity.
But I’d given up work too early, my money slowly dwindled away, a small retirement fund paid the basic bills but this year when the car insurance arrived I knew I had a problem.
So I called her in and told her I would have to go back to a country I’d almost forgotten and look for work. And why.
“No problem” she said, and went and got a bank book I hadn’t seen before and pointed out several hundred thousand baht deposited in it.
Now I’m natural suspicious in relationships, hard lessons learned many times in the past. So if my girlfriend goes out for any length of time I sometimes accidently run into her where she’s supposed to be. Not all the time but randomly with no predictable pattern.
But we live in the middle of nowhere; I don’t doubt part time prostitution is possible but the horde of enthusiastic amateurs half her age would make it a somewhat difficult means of fundraising at best.
So I asked where this wealth had come from.
“I play cards” she said, as one would to a slightly simple child inquiring as to the source of tap water.
I supposed she did, and quite often, but it never occurred to me she was consistently successful at it. I knew she never missed a funeral, often arriving home at daylight with a handbag full of twenty baht bills.
But a serious card player?
A gambler of professional skill?
So the card playing has become more regular and she has sessions at our house. The police call in occasionally and a little money changes hands. One friendly officer dropped off half a dozen packs of good quality cards once, confiscated from another game that hadn’t met with judicial approval.
Most of the players are village women whose husbands work overseas. They quite casually drop several thousand baht in an afternoon and I sometimes wonder what their spouse would say if he knew of the casual way they disposed of his wages.
Occasionally a fellow professional puts in an appearance; apparently they are quite common in Thailand, working the funerals from village to village.
A young couple came regularly for a week or two, they drove a new Toyota.
“Only borrow money” my girl friend informed me scornfully.
They weren’t successful, the competition was too strong and the players never drink alcohol like the funeral gamblers do.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m in that small elite group one hears of occasionally in Thailand but rarely meets; a farang being kept by a Thai woman. I’m not really being kept though, my money still pays the day to day bills but it’s handy having a companion who never asks you for cash.
I did a visa run last week and she casually slipped me a couple of thousand as I was leaving.
“Just in case you need money darling”.
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