Me love you long time. Well, at least until the Green Card arrives.

January 12, 2010

I have a friend whom I’m going to call Carl, to protect his privacy from being violated, and my ass from being kicked.

I haven’t seen Carl for many years, not since Viking Woman and I embarked on our Damn The Pension World Tour, but he was once a valued member of our social circle. That’s because Carl was the Mr. Fix-It Friend. As opposed to the Pickup Truck Owning Friend or the Computer Tech Friend.

We’d often phone Carl and say something like, “Hey, buddy, why don’t you come over for dinner Thursday night. And bring your tool belt.”

Other than hearing through the grapevine that he was now divorced, I’d lost track of Carl until he sent me an e-mail this week, asking how we were doing, where we were doing it, and, oh yeah, did we want to attend his wedding. In Thailand.

Yeah, right. What?

Apparently the story goes something like this: one of Carl’s workmates won big bucks in a lottery a few years back and now either lives in Thailand or spends a lot of time there. This lucky friend recently invited Carl to visit him. He might even have paid for Carl’s ticket for all I know. But, while Carl was playing tourist, he met a Thai woman. They got along, as they say, like a house on fire. In fact, Carl was so consumed by the flames of love that he proposed.

I know, I hear the alarm bells as well.

Look, I know this is going to sound absolutely terrible, and I do wish Carl all the best in the world — he did, after all, once refinish our bathroom after a steak dinner  — but whenever I hear about a man becoming blindly enamoured with a woman while visiting a foreign country, my first reaction is to ask this question: “Does her pet name for you translate into ‘Mr. Green Card’?”

Yes, she is probably a very nice person. And, yes, Carl does deserve some happiness in his life, as we all do. After all, he did build that closet in our spare bedroom after we served up a very yummy barbecued salmon with all the trimmings.

So why am I humming a song from Miss Saigon? Why am I hearing the dialogue from every bad movie made about the Vietnam War: “Only five dollah, mister, and me love you long time.”?

What is the attraction non-Asian men have for Asian women?

I suppose it starts with that whole “geisha” fantasy. That she — all four-foot-nine of her — is going to massage your back by walking over it. That her sole purpose in life is to worship and obey you. That she is the perfect blend of exotic and erotic and mysterious, and has obviously been trained from an early age in the art of pleasuring a man. Which includes making allowances for the only two things he wants to do after sex: watch the sports highlights and fall asleep.

This attraction cuts both ways of course. When Viking Woman and I lived in the Cook Islands, we saw a lot of local women married to papa’a (white) men. These guys were often less than pristine examples of manhood, making up for an over-abundance of body hair with an under-abundance of teeth.

And yet they were somehow considered a catch. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe the women just wanted something different on the menu than the smorgasbord of fellow Cookies surrounding them. Maybe snagging a white man represented prestige of some kind. Maybe white skin somehow equated to opportunity or more money or, at the very least, a different passport and the possibility, however remote, of moving from a small island out into the Great Big World.

You read horror stories about some of the women you can encounter in Southeast Asia. About how, under that mini-skirt, they’re packing the same meat and two veg as you. About how, once the ring is on their finger, they turn into dominating shrews. How, once the stamp hits the immigration papers, they simply disappear one day into that Great Big World, leaving behind an empty closet and an emptier heart.

I hope none of this happens to Carl. I hope he and his Thai bride have a long and happy life together. I hope they make plans to see as much of the Great Big World together as possible.

And, if those plans include stopping in New Zealand to see us, we will welcome them with open arms. Because that’s the kind of friends we are.

And because we’re thinking about taking down one of the walls in the lounge to make an archway. After dinner, of course.

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