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Dodie Cross

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Gift of Gamman
by Stan Law (aka Stanislaw Kapuscinski)

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A Broad Abroad in Thailand
By Dodie Cross
Saturday, September 08, 2007

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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Recent stories by Dodie Cross
· A Broad Abroad in Thailand: An Expat's Misadventures in the Land of Smiles
· The Ubiquitous Eastern Toilet
           >> View all 3

An excerpt from my book:

Before we left for Pattaya, I wanted to make sure Dick got the western boots he’d admired a few days earlier. I talked him into a quick stroll and casually walked in that direction. “Wait!” he called to me as I pulled ahead of him. “Where’re you headed?”
“Just to check out something you might be interested in.” I could feel him hanging back. “Oh, stop. It won’t hurt to have a look. You did say you wanted a pair of boots, didn’t you?”
“Okay, but I’m just gonna look. Don’t pull any crap about me buyin’ ‘em. I can always come back and get ‘em some other time.” He defiantly dragged his feet.
A sharp-eyed vendor stepped out from his store. “You come back foh boot, yeth?”
I could feel Dick’s irritation. “Maybe. I’m just lookin’ though. How long does it take?”
“Sokay, I do foh you now,” he said as he motioned us inside the store.
“Okay! But I’m still just gonna look,” Dick proclaimed a bit too loud.
Huge assortments of boots were displayed, filling the store with the comforting smell of new leather. Elephant, ostrich, alligator and boa constrictor boots were on display and treated skins were hanging from rafters. Dick’s irritation began to fade from his face as he looked around. He actually looked impressed. The sharp vendor saw this and asked Dick to please sit and remove his shoes. He then spread some blank papers on the floor in front of Dick. “Put you foot on papah, Suh.” Dick reluctantly removed his shoes and stepped onto the paper. We watched as the vendor squatted and traced each foot with his shop-worn pencil, taking a quick measurement over the instep and under the arch, made a few squiggly lines on a notepad and told us to return the next day for the boots. Dick regained the normal irritated look he wears for shopping, as if this was a colossal waste of his time; Just humoring the little lady, ha-ha. Fine! Wait until he sees the finished product.
The next morning we returned to the shop. Dick tried to look bored while waiting for the vendor to bring out his boots. His eyes widened as the vendor approached. They were exquisite; highly burnished ostrich leather in rich tans and browns. When he stepped into them a look of utter contentment came over him—a look I didn’t see too often. He took a quick walk around the store while a smile curved his otherwise flat expression. “They’re the best fit I’ve ever had.”
The cost for these stunning handmade boots was nowhere near their worth. In the States he would have paid $500, and they would not have been hand-made. Here they were $150. Incredible! The bonus was that the workmanship was top-quality. He walked out of the store looking down at the boots. With each step he remarked on their comfort. He wore them the rest of the day, and I think he might have worn them to bed had I not been there to witness it.
For the next two days we did the normal tourist trips with constant complaints from Dick about the cost of everything; the heat, the humidity, the state of the nation and the national debt. Why didn’t I insist he just stay at the hotel? I made a mental note to return—alone.
The day before we were to leave for Pattaya, Dick complained of a stomach ache. He swore it was something he’d eaten, but I’d had the same food and felt fine. Well, damn! I’d have to go shopping without him. Who said there wasn’t a Shopping God?
When you really think about it, why would any woman want to drag a man along on a shopping trip anyway? If you want to shop without a care in the world, leave the guy at home. Set him up with a sports broadcast on TV, a six pack of Bud, a copy of Sports Illustrated in one hand and the TV remote in the other. You could go to Europe and back and he’d never know you were gone.
I told Dick I’d look for some sort of stomach medicine while I was out. “Be back soon.”
“Where you goin’?”
“I won’t be gone long. I’ll check at the desk for something for your stomach. Then I’ll probably run over to that wonderful computer store I saw the other day and then…”
That said, I was on my way.
I ran by the front desk and asked if they had any type of medicine for a stomach ache. The receptionist looked at me rather quizzically so I held my stomach and looked pained. She got it. She returned in a few minutes with a small bottle of pink liquid with Thai writing. She assured me it was “Goot foh you” and rubbed her stomach. Okay, I thought, goot enough for her, then goot enough for Dick. I asked her to have it delivered to our room and was on my way.
I flagged down a tuk-tuk and pointed straight ahead toward the computer mall. If I carried a wet wash cloth to hold over my mouth and one to place on the back of my neck, as well as a bottle of water to pour over my head, I could better handle the heat and smog; but, hey, what’s a little lung congestion when your goal is shopping?
Dozens of stores filled this enormous mall, all selling computers, programs, manuals and offering repairs and training. I also found a tech who was delighted to copy a program for me while I waited—throwing the manual in for free. Cost of the program stateside would be $200 or more; cost in this lovely computer mall, “Tweni sree dollah.”
After leaving the mall, I thought I’d check out a store I’d heard about, modestly named The World Trade Center. It was the largest building in Bangkok at the time and housed some of the world’s most famous chain stores such as Nieman Marcus, Sogos, Saks Fifth Avenue and many others I’d never heard of. I was in heaven as I sauntered from store to store, trying on clothes and twirling in front of mirrors with never a thought of a sour-faced spouse standing nearby to quash my fun. I didn’t buy anything that day but I knew I’d be back to Bangkok in the near future. I could wait.
When I arrived back at the hotel, Dick met me at the door. “Where ya been so long?”
“I told you I’d be a while. Did you get the medicine?”
“What medicine?”
“For your stomach. I asked the receptionist to send it up to you. Didn’t you get it?”
“Oh, you mean that pink crap? I wasn’t about to drink somethin’ I couldn’t even read.”
“So what did you do about your stomach pain?”
“I started feelin’ better about an hour after you left so I opened a beer, found an old Sport Illustrated magazine in my briefcase, turned on a great golf match and just kicked back. Why?”
I rest my case.

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