Once upon a time in faraway Thailand, there was a big giant called Shooda Knownbetter; a strange name for such a clever person who boasted about having plenty of money. One lovely sunny day he gazed from the window in his budget hotel – well, after wiping away grime that he kept forgetting to mention to the management. Glancing down, he sighed contentedly, running an eye – only one, the other happened to be glass – over the merry scene unfolding in the busy city. Motorbike contraptions, handcarts and people squatting in the road vended all sorts of tasty morsels with strange names and even stranger aromas. What appealed to Shooda more than the food, were scores of lovely young Thai maidens, colorfully dressed in eye-catching outfits of every description; short skirts, low tops and high-heeled shoes. Feeling compelled to be part of the action, he quickly showered under the gurgling specially colored water, despaired when it ceased to splash, toweled himself dry, shaved, cleaned his few remaining teeth and carefully spread the thinning hair over the bald patch. Glancing in the mirror, he knew he looked his best. The king-size, brightly decorated shirt flowed tastefully over his beer gut. Slipping into baggy shorts and floppy sandals, he ventured forth.
A trifle hungry, he headed to a bar offering ‘buy one, drink two’. Half a dozen bottles later, he remembered he hadn’t eaten for ages. The succulent burger and French fries appeased his craving and he embarked on social chitchat with a group of youngsters swarming all over him.
“Hello handsome man. Where you from?” one cheeky – but honest – lass enquired politely.
Feeling pleased his magnetic appeal worked so quickly, he replied, “Over there, see?”
Scowling in the direction of the tumbledown dwelling place, she gasped, “There? Why you stay there?”
Swelling with pride, Shooda replied, “I can afford it, yer know.”
Now something he must have let slip lead to Mamasan ringing a very noisy bell. It made an awful din. With whoops of delight, a stampede broke out, with dozens of girls lining up assorted drinks on the bar. Shooda Knownbetter reckoned he’d cracked it; drinks on the house as well. He even had an invitation to try his hand at Connect 4 – an exciting little game involving dropping green and red buttons into a plastic frame in blocks of four vertical, horizontal or diagonal lines. Quite how he lost every game baffled him.
“What your name, handsome man?” one member of the staff asked, prodding his beer gut affectionately.
“Oh, they call me Shooda – Shooda Knownbetter.”
“Ooh! Velly nice name, I like too much.”
“Oh, you’re just saying that,” he murmured dismissively, collecting yet another bottle from the stack in front of him.
As time blissfully sped by, Shooda wallowed in his rapidly increasing popularity. More and more lovely girls showed their appreciation of his generosity, charm and wit. Mamasan very kindly kept shoving little bits of paper in a pot beside him – no doubt personal thank you notes about her appreciation of having such a delightful customer. After all, she’d wasted no time in providing free drinks all round, announcing her delight to do so by even ringing the bell again.
Good times sometimes seem to fade away. Shooda Knownbetter, feeling the happy bubble had burst, managed somehow – loyally gripped by two girls from the bar – to stagger to the nearest ATM machine. The wonderful piece of equipment threw some money at him, to the great amusement and lack of understanding of his gleeful companions. After agreeing to empty his wallet back at the bar, he decided not to outstay his welcome, so went off in search of more entertainment.
Just popping out to amuse the Thai men in my local village bar. They may not understand, though.