Sometimes a relationship requires divine intervention.
There are little bumps in every relationship. How you deal with those minor problems defines the relationship, and can have an impact on its longevity. I’m not talking about major transgressions, but rather petty annoyances. Those little things your partner does that bug you. You can ignore them. At least for a while. But if you fail to address the problem, that annoyance festers and pretty soon you have a major blow out.
There are probably a lot of things that Noom, my bar boy friend and current love of my life, does that would annoy me. But things that normally would irk me, with Noom, barely register as a blip on the screen. Partly because I love the dude. And partly because I only see him while on holiday when I’m in a much more mellow and lackadaisical mood. A good example is his total lack of a sense of direction. The boy can get lost going to the bathroom in our hotel room. We often take the BTS to MBK. Even if we are going to Siam Paragon. Don’t ask. I think it is tradition. So we’ll get off at National Stadium instead of Siam and Noom will head off for the mall in the wrong direction. Every time. I’ll tap him on the shoulder, jerk my thumb back the other way, wait for comprehension to dawn and off we’ll go. That kind of thing normally would bug me. But with Noom, I find it endearing. As I do with most of his little idiosyncracies. But on a recent trip to the Kingdom, he pulled a new pony out of his bag of tricks that drove me crazy.
Part of the fun with Noom is that every trip I make to Thailand I get a new Noom. The underlying sweet and gregarious Noom is always there. But sometimes it’ll be a new hairstyle, sometimes a different attitude, one time he’d decided he was a bodyguard, another a soon to be tour guide. He delves deeply into whatever role the minor change has wrought. I’m never sure the Noom I’ll find when I land. Fortunately, the muscles always remain the same.
On this trip, giving you the good with the bad, he started calling me Honey. I didn’t even notice. One of my friends we were travelling with pounded on my shoulder in aggravation saying, “Noom keeps calling you and you’re ignoring him. Can’t you hear him calling Honey?”
My bad. He normally tries different versions of my name. I like the one that ends in about ten s’s. I wasn’t listening for ‘Honey.’
Noom sees his work as a bar boy as bidness. Part of that bidness is ‘taking care’ of his customers. I still am, and am not, a customer, so he still makes sure to take care of me. Sometimes that means nothing more than refusing to allow me to carry any of the bags of stuff we’ve bought. Even if he is already loaded down like a pack mule. Other times it is grabbing my arm when we cross a street; a bit condescending, but it comes from a good place. For some reason on this trip he decided I was incapable of ordering my own food in a restaurant. So he’d order for me. In Thai.
The first time was at Dick’s Cafe. I wasn’t very hungry and ordered cashew chicken. I like the cashew chicken at Dick’s. It is unlike the dish served anywhere else. Kind of a dry, spicy, almost a chicken wing version. Even though I knew Noom would eat half of it off my plate, there would still be more than enough to satisfy my appetite. So I didn’t want rice. But he ordered rice for me anyway. Which then got sent back. Next night, wherever it was we ate, I was hungry and wanted rice, ordered rice, but Noom cancelled the dish. Guess I should have eaten the rice the night before when I had my chance.
The patience of Buddha . . .
We moved up to Chiang Mai with my friends and stayed at the Montri Hotel. First afternoon, having just arrived, we decided to eat at the hotel. The menu was in Thai, English, and had pictures. Noom asked what I wanted. I pointed to the BLT and to a plate of fries. I got a tuna sandwich and potato chips. Yup, the next set of pictures above what I’d ordered. I can and will eat pretty much anything and anywhere, but once you’ve ordered your food, well there are expectations. Even in Thailand.
We went through two more days of the trip, two more days of eating, and two more days of Noom ordering for me and getting it wrong every time. Enough. Time to address ‘our’ problem. Back home, in a relationship with another Westener, this would be easy: “Dude, quit ordering my food for me, you can’t even get it right!”
Possibly a bit of hurt feelings, but that would be the end of it. But that is not an option with a Thai. No matter how badly something is bugging you. Correcting a Thai in any manner is a major no-no. Saying anything that he may infer as meaning he is stupid is a major sin. Actually using the S word to a Thai . . . you may not live through that. So I had some thinking to do. How to tell him, without telling him.
I’m usually very sensitive to this concern and go out of my way to never come close to using the S word in dealing with Noom. Once, not thinking, I’d corrected him on his pronunciation of Om. Noom has decided he is a Hindu because he prayed to Ganesha and the elephant god brought him me. (That would have been my clue to switch to Christianity). Most people pronounce Om as ‘oam’ like in the word loam. That’s wrong. That sound is all at the front of your mouth. Om is the sound of creation and said properly travels through all three zones of your mouth. So it is Aum, not Om. I realized my blunder before I even finished explaining, but no problemo. Noom didn’t take offense. Instead he replied, “Yes, I know. But in Thailand we say Om.”
Silly farang. But in this case I knew I wasn’t going to get off that easy. I spent the day mulling over my options, had another meal I did not order that night, and laying naked in bed together that evening told him I had something important to talk to him about. We always have our ‘important’ talks while naked in bed. That too is a tradition. One I can get behind. The compromise between the truth and an outright lie that I’d decided on was first, to immediately take all blame. And apologize. That part worked fine. I even made sure my head was lower than his and made a not too successful attempt at using a high octave sing song voice. Yup, learned that one from the local boys. The last half was a bit more hazy using his ‘take care’ duty and applying it to my similar duty at home and with my friends. I explained that because I am always the one taking care of everyone else, when he does instead, it throws me off my game. I know. Not inspired. But it was the best I could come up with. Part III was using ‘ordering at restaurants’ as an example: my need to order for myself without ever mentioning his failed attempts over the last few days. Okay, I suck at this. He wasn’t fooled. He got a bit testy and said, “Find. I order for you not never in future.”
And the menu doesn’t help.
He was a bit put out, but not really mad. And I had avoided the S word coming into play. So I apologized again and we cuddled together to drift off to sleep. End of problem and by morning things would be okay once again.
And so it seemed. When we woke up the next morning he pulled the sheets off him to lay there exposing his taut body and hard dick. I’m never sure if it is just that he is proud of what he worked up over night, or that he knows I love looking at him in that state, but we begin most mornings that way. That’s why I love Thailand. Eventually, we got dressed and headed downstairs to meet my friends for the buffet breakfast.
Noom and I have done the buffet breakfast thing too many time to count. We’ve fallen into a comfortable routine. I get coffee for both of us, he grabs juice and picks a table (he’s very picky about where he sits). If bread needs to be plopped into the toaster, I load us up, and if there is an egg cooking station he gets us both an omelet. This morning, while I got coffee, he moved the girls to the right table (he’s so cute!), and we proceeded through our normal routine. But when I got to the table, no juice. Well, no juice for me. Just Noom standing there with a ha ha ha look on his face. Okay, maybe there still was a bit of last night’s discussion in the air. “I not know what juice you want,” he confirmed, ignoring his knowledge that I only drink orange juice in the morning.
But then he whipped a glass full out from behind his back and laughed. As tempting as it was to bitch slap him, I laughed too and things seemed to be okay between us once again. The girls looked on bewildered, deciding it must be some testosterone thing. After breakfast, with new touri to Chiang Mai in tow, we grabbed a baht bus and commandeered it for a trip up to Doi Suthep. I lied to Helena and told her it wasn’t a wat. The cooler hill temperatures enticed everyone to come along for the ride.
When we got there, I told the girls Noom and I had something to do and would catch up with them at the top of the stairs. Used to small surprises being prepared for them in this manner, they were delighted another was headed their way and started the long haul up the 309 stairs. Of course, Noom and I veered right and took the elevator instead. When they finally arrived at the peak, Helena exhausted and swearing she was gonna stop smoking, they didn’t find our ‘surprise’ quite as funny as Noom and I did. Pretty Boy Chris had beat them to the top by a good ten minutes and had been exploring the entrance area.
Doi Suthep Offerings
I think I mentioned before that Chris is cheap. He saw the ticket booth for foreigners, but didn’t see anyone collecting tickets so he asked if he really had to buy one. Cheap, and sacrilegious to boot. I lied and told him there were guys inside who walk around checking that you’d paid. Which there are not. Which he discovered after shelling out the admission fee. And which he whined about for the next week and a half. But everyone agreed Doi Suthep was a must-do for touri, and were glad they’d came. Even Chris admitted it might possibly be worth the 30 baht admission fee he’d paid.
Noom made them participate in the Buddhist ritual of walking around the gold stupa three times (Helena dropped out after the first circuit). I bought one of the brass bells with a brass bodhi leaf clapper that you can hang at the temple after borrowing a marking pen from the vendor and writing your names on it. Institutionalized graffiti. Cool. The girls and Chris made their marks while Noom went on the hunt for the one he and I had placed last year. I was concerned the bells get the same treatment as floral offerings do at shrines, promptly thrown into a dumpster to make room for more. But he found ours, not where he’d originally hung it, and was a happy camper after replacing it in its original spot.
Everyone got busy ringing lines of bells, striking gongs, and posing for picture with Chiang Mai spread out below. We headed back down the stairs as a group and Noom molested the little hill tribe girl posing for pictures for a buck as he always does. He loves little kids. And they love his muscles as he tosses the little ones in the air while mom watches on unhappy about the whole thing cuz she knows that Thai boy isn’t going to let go with a tip. When Noom and his new playmate both quit giggling and were on firm ground once again, I slipped mom 100 baht, and all was forgiven.
An insect for every taste.
Time for lunch. I’d found a new place to try. At the foot of the mountain is a series of waterfalls where the locals have built open air wooden restaurants so you can dine while looking out over the forested scene. This is not a touri stop. It’s where visiting Thais go for a bit of fun and a bit of food. Which quickly became evident from the long table full of cooked bugs, a few dozen platters filled with insects of all sizes arranged next to the dirt path leading out to the
restaurant hut. Noom was still doing his Pretty Boy thing at Chris and I’d been routinely razing him about not having balls. Thinking eating a cockroach had something to do with being a man, he picked out a large roach for an appetizer. Noom immediately plopped one of equal size into his mouth to show it wasn’t a big thing. And I leaned over and told him he had to brush his teeth and gargle with bleach before I’d let him kiss me again.
Our waitress led us out to the hut across precariously laid wooden planks, edges barely meeting, into a rickety shack beat by the sun, semifallen with a distinct downward slant. Thin sheets of plywood were strewn about the floor. Well, no, they were the floor. You’d feel a distinct bounce, far too much give for safety, with each step you took. Wood railings of equal strength protect you from sliding off and plunging hundreds of feet to the dried riverbed below. You’ve heard of adventure tourism, this was adventure dining. Each time the waitress brought stuff to our table, water, napkins, silverware, Helena would move to other side of the hut to provide ballast.
An Adventure In Dining
Chris ate his bug in three crunchy bites while we looked on and gagged. I give him credit, he took it like a man. We all made some jokes about what he wouldn’t be willing to put in his mouth. Then the fun was over and it was time to order as the waitress passed out our menus. Shit. No English. No pictures. The menus were only in Thai. And Noom got the most satisfied smirk on his face I’d ever seen. Ah, well, the best laid plans of mice and men . . .
Showing no mercy he waited patiently for me to ask for his help. I had no choice. Especially considering the dishes on display out front. I had to man up and eat crow to avoid being served crow. Or worse. No other options available, I asked him for help. The moment he’d been waiting for. And he took great delight in savoring it, “OOOOOH, NOW you want me order for you!
And so he did. I got basil chicken with lots of chillies, one of my favorite hot and spicy dishes. He made sure the girls were satisfied with their food too and we had an incredibly cheap lunch making Chris happy in the process. That night at dinner when the menus were passed out, without a word, Noom reached over and took mine away. For dining at least, a new pecking order has been established. Now, part of my enjoyment on my trips to Thailand is that at any given meal, I have no idea what I will be eating. It’s up to Noom. And I’m good with that.
Chris shows a cockroach who’s boss:
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