Imagine the scene: A hot & sunny afternoon in Bangkok.
Imagine yourself the player: A portly, awkward American gal.
You’re taking a short visa mandated trip away from your life in Burma. And you are not unhappy about this. You go out. Wander. Eat mangoes. Talk to people. Get massages. Eat fried bananas from a street vendor. Not bad. Not bad at all. You’re using this time to reassess. Wind down. Eat, drink & smoke, because you’ve told yourself when you go back to Burma, back to real life, you’ll stop doing all of those things. Well, you’ll still eat. But less. And healthy. Right? All your food from now on will be healthy. You’re gonna be a beacon of health and well being. Of course. But first a few nights in Bangkok.
The tides are turning. Slowly. Those lazy-ass tides are takin’ their sweet-ass time. You figure another change is in order. A haircut. Why not? New ‘do new you. You’ve done this before. Hair is adaptable. Like you. So you decide to go for it. You look around for a salon. There are plenty. Which one will be the one? You’re not too nervous. You’ve had your hair cut in a foreign country before. By people who don’t speak the same language as you. It’ll be fine. You find a place. A place run by a woman with a patch over her eye. She says she’s recently had surgery. Ok. Most of the staff are kathoey. Or lady boys. And they prefer the term lady boy to transgender. You talk with them about this. It’s an enlightening conversation.
Your stylists asks what you want you. You say a little shorter. A little more than a trim, but nothing extreme. She laughs and begins to wash your hair. But there’s a problem. There seems to be no shampoo. Your head is wet, in the sink. Glasses are off, blind to the world. But you can hear. Thai is being spoken. The word ‘shampoo’ is being thrown around. There are no hands rubbing suds into your wet hair. You hear empty bottles being picked up and put down. Drawers opening, being rummaged through. Eventually the thick, sweet smelling liquid is squeezed unto your head. Quick hands massage your head. Like only the Thais know how to do.
You sit in front of a mirror. Again your stylists asks you what you want. A trim? No, just a little shorter. You motion towards your chin. Chin length. Just a little shorter. She laughs. You take off your glasses. A little nervous. But hoping for the best. You’re trying to be positive. You’ve worked hard at becoming a positive person.
She begins to cut. Through blurry vision you can tell this is not going in the direction you intended.
The three Middle Eastern business men sitting behind you getting foot massages have their opinions about what is happening. One of them beings speaking French to you. You don’t understand. He asks if you speak French. You say you do not, but internally you smile and are secretly happy he thought you were a Francophone. In English he tells you the back is too shaggy and not even. The Stylist attempts to fix this.
You put your glasses on. You are not thrilled with what you see. In the mirror you can see the businessmen feel the same. Their Arabic conversation is about this. Or so you believe as the hand gestures and eyes are focused on you. The back of your head. And the bad haircut that has recently taken up residence there.
The stylist laughs. Haircut like a man, she says. And laughs again. You smile. But inside you are using profane words. Haircut like a man. Your worst fear come to life. You look like a fat man in a dress. A fat man in a dress. And standing next to these kathoeys, or lady boys, or however they wish to self identify, does not help. Because they all look gorgeous. Tall slender visions of ultra femininity. And you. Squat and round, with a dump truck face and a bad haircut. A fat man in a dress.
You go outside and smoke a cigarette. You feel the need for one after that. The kathoeys in front of the shop smile at you. You ask if they like your new haircut. One of them gives a too wide grin. Sassy, she says. You do not believe her. You know what sassy means. Sassy is code. Code for: Oh girl no. You’ve played that game before. Sassy. Ha.
You sigh heavily and walk away. A fat man in a dress. Out about on a hot & sunny afternoon in Bangkok.