Can’t I Just Read The Paper?
By Billy Bangkok
There’s absolutely no moral to this story nor much point to it other than to share one of those crazy experiences that only seem to happen to you in Thailand.
I was holiday in Bangkok without much on the agenda for the day other than the remote possibility that I might find myself motivated enough to go do some sightseeing. It had been "one of those nights" the evening before and I stumbled into bed somewhere around 3 or 4 am in the morning. To say that I wasn’t in my best form this particular morning would be a tragic understatement. In fact, calling it morning would be somewhat of a misnomer as well as it was close to 2pm.
I strolled down from my hotel on Suk Soi 11 to Asia Books near Soi 5 and grabbed a newspaper. I’m a bit of a news-fiend and nothing delights me better on a day like this than to find a nice quite place to nurse my hangover and read. Now for a nice place to read it.
Gulliver’s is always good for a late breakfast on a day like this because they serve it all day and the place is usually pretty dead during the middle of the afternoon on a weekday. I made my way there.
I sat down at the far end of the bar away from any other human being and ordered an English breakfast and a non-alcoholic beverage. I open up the paper and begin to read a lengthy story on one of Samak’s recent gaffes. If it weren’t for the banging in my head life would just be about perfect at this moment. Just me, my newspaper, quite, and food on the order.
I don’t believe I was more than two paragraphs into the story when I’m startled by someone who says "hello." I slowly lower my paper in order to see who has dared intrude on my me time and I see an older lady, dressed rather seductively, flashing me a smile. By older I mean that in relative terms in Thailand. She was probably under 35 but as my own age is somewhere a few years north of 35 I really have no business calling her an older lady but this is Thailand so there you go. Don’t get me wrong though, shave ten years off of her and she would be pulling customers out of any bar. At one time she was a real looker but at 35 in Thailand she’s a little long in the tooth.
I can’t be positive but I’m pretty sure she tried to chat me up about a year prior when I was in Gulliver’s waiting for some friends. If this was the same gal she certainly didn’t know how to take no for an answer and I really had to cold-shoulder her to get her to leave me alone the last time.
I smile back and return the greeting and start bringing the newspaper back up into my line of sight in order to send a message that I’m not really interested. Undeterred she asks me my name. I repeat the process of slowly bringing the paper down in a unsuccessful attempt to communicate to her that I’m somewhat engaged in my reading.
We exchange names and once again I try to get back to my paper. This time she interrupts to ask me to move my stool closer to hers. She attempted to lighten the mood joking that she didn’t bite (I’m pretty sure that’s an extra 500 baht).
As luck would have it my breakfast arrives before I can answer so I attempt to get into full dining mode while ignoring her and letting her invite fall quietly to the floor. She asks me to move my stool over again but this time a bit more insistent.
I really have no desire to speak to her but I can’t bring myself to being rude. I turn to her and politely say "I’m just here for a little breakfast and than I have somewhere I have to be. Maybe we can chat next time."
Well, you would have thought I spit in her drink. Gone was the smile and the fangs were now out. With her nose crinkled up in disgust she responded "You don’t want to sit next to me? Fine!" She dramatically swung around in her chair giving her back to me.
All in all, not a bad outcome as far as I’m concerned because I really don’t care if she’s angry. I hadn’t tried to make her angry but can’t a guy just read the paper and have some breakfast without getting the stink eye?
Perhaps she thought I was going to apologize or concede but like I said, this was pretty much win-win for me and I was too busy devouring my breakfast to pay her much more attention. A few minutes later she did another overly dramatic spin around in her stool and gave me the evil eye again. Then she got up from the stool and moved several stools down as if to teach me a lesson.
A few minutes after that she got up in a huff again, repeated the stink eye look, and then went to the complete opposite end of the bar from me where she shot me dirty looks while I satiated my hunger. I’m not even sure what the goal of that was because if I didn’t stop her when her back was to me and I didn’t stop her when she moved a several stools away there was zero chance anybody was ever going to walk across the bar with her in her shitty mood and ask her if she wanted to go short time.
When I was done with my breakfast I paid up the tab, grabbed my paper, and headed out into the afternoon heat to find a nice quite bar where I could enjoy my paper in peace.
You know what? My hangover was gone too. What a great day.