What do you get when you cross:
A week long cold with whiny babies and snotty noses…
Followed by two babies with a week long stomach flu….
Followed by everyone getting some kind of Death flu bronchitis thingie that makes the babies cough hard enough to start the puking again….
Followed by 3 days of hurried preparations for Christmas…..
Followed by a lovely 2 days riding horses in Bakersfield for the New Year?
Well, what do you get?
You get a guest post from my dad.
Thailand New Year, 2012
I just thought I would write and let you know how my New Year’s Eve went.
I was kind of obligated to go to Nong’s parent’s house for the occasion – Oh boy. Another Thai party. I have been to quite a few of them and some were kind of fun… That is, if you can have fun being the only English speaking person in the room.
Usually what will happen is beer and Thai whiskey is bought, a bottle is opened, and then magically ALL of the relatives show up within a short period of time. Imagine a party with 30 people drinking beer, eating and talking really loud in order to be heard over all the other people that are talking loud for the same exact reason. Now, all of this loud talking is done in the standard Thai as well as the different northern Thai dialect, which (of course) is actually a completely different language. In the middle of all of this loud, multi-language sits Stevw, muttering to myself “It is only one night…it is only one night…”
Out the door I head for some fresh air. This is where everyone goes to have their cigarettes, so inevitably a conversation is attempted.
“You go Christmas America?”
OK, now I know the tenses of the verbs are always messed up during these attempts at conversing in English, so I mentally try to figure out exactly what was said. “You go Christmas America” …?
This could mean “Did you go to America for Christmas?” or it could be an attempt at “Do you like Christmas in America?” which would translate to “Do you prefer spending Christmas in Thailand or America?” or even “Do they celebrate Christmas in America?”
It’s important to note that conversation = they talk and stop and then I talk…. So now it’s my turn.
How do I answer that? I haven’t even deciphered it yet, but he is waiting.
OK, it’s time to fall back to the standard, “I don’t understand him, so don’t let him understand me” defense….just make it something with Christmas and America in it.
“Yes, we celebrate Christmas in America in many different ways, some religious, some not. Almost everyone gets a Christmas tree. Not all of the trees are real. Some are made out of plastic and can be used year after year…. Do they sell plastic trees here in Thailand?” Ha! Now he has to answer.
I wait. I can see the wheels turning in his head, the thoughts forming and then he says, “I have sister spoken.”
Oh Jesus, does this mean his sister speaks English, or does she live in Spokane, Washington?
“I am sorry. I need to go back inside now. I am sure someone needs to talk to me……” I get a blank smile and a nod, and I return inside.
Once inside, Nong approaches, “Why were you talking to that guy outside? What were you talking about?”
I admit, “I don’t really know what we were talking about. I was confused.”
“Well, he isn’t a relative. He just shows up at people’s houses trying to get free drinks. He has been insane for years.”
I give up! You try to be nice and have a conversation and suddenly you are the foreigner on the front porch talking to the crazy neighbor that no one wants there.
Anyway, New Year’s Eve…. That is what I expected, so I bought a box of wine to take to the party. No, not a box of wine as in bottles, but an actual box of wine – the kind with the spigot built into the box. That should liven things up! If I get everyone drunk I might have a slim chance of actually fitting in and being part of the crowd.
We arrive for the New Year’s Eve party, but no one there. This doesn’t bother me – I will use the never-fail method of opening a beer to attract the hidden crowd that is always just steps away. I pour myself a glass and offer one to Nong’s father…
“No thanks, I already drank a beer earlier.”
“Nong…want a beer?”
“Not now, maybe later.”
I know! I will give the wine box a chance! This will start things. I hand it to her father, and ZOOM! It is gone – put away for another occasion.
I sit down, beer in hand, and watch a kid watching Thai cartoons on the TV.
After a few moments I have to ask, so I approach “them” in the kitchen.
“I thought we were having a party for New Year’s?”
“Oh, no, the village chief has asked everyone not to get drunk this year. There is a singing contest at the village center later that we can go to and of course there is the count down to the New Year.”
Gee, let me think. I can wait 2 or 3 hours to go to a village square to watch someone I don’t know sing songs I don’t understand, until at the right time I can count “3…2…1…”
….. or I could have another beer and watch foreign cartoons with an eight year old.
So there I was, the only one drinking anything on New Year’s Eve, sitting with an eight year old kid watching Thai cartoons. It wasn’t much better than talking to crazy unwanted neighbors on the porch. I was asleep by nine. How was your New Year?