Queen For A Day

Back in the late 50s American audience were captivated by the tales of woe told by desperate housewives on the TV show QUEEN FOR A DAY.Each of the three participants had several minutes to recount their hard times to the host Jack Bailey and the winner for the most sorrowful tribulation was decided by the applause-meter, after which the music POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE was played during the crowning of the tearful winner. It was horrible to watch these women degrade themselves before the camera to win a refrigerator or AC, but these tough times are reviving the show for millions of families around the world.

Last month Fenway, his mother, and I visited our old soi in Jomtien. It was a grey day and the sea was too rough for swimming, so we drank at the Blue Moon cafe with the owner. There were few farangs on the soi during monsoon season, but mostly the old regulars ifrom the West were strapped for cash.

“Mai mii farang. Mai mii taeng.” Moon was complaining about the lack of business and then asked, “You know Richard?”

“Of course.” Richard was teaching in Saudi Arabia; four months on and one month off.

“His girlfriend Dah, she have cancer.”


Richard had broken up with Dah two years ago and I sensed the direction of this conversation, for the Thais are experts at telling the classic sick buffalo story, where the family needs money to save the beloved buffalo. These unhappy endings are the harvest of a bad education, poverty, and no social network coupled with history of farangs having been an easy touch over the years.

“I give Dah 13,000 baht to go hospital. She never give back.” Moon continued her mournful story. “My husband he die last month. I have young baby.”

“I don’t have any money.” My finances were devoted to Fenway and my daughter Angie.

“Yes, but maybe you could ask Richard to help me?” Moon wasn’t talking about a sick buffalo. She was worried about her family same as me and Mam.

Fenway’s mom looked at me, as if to say ‘law ke kuhn’ or up to you.

“I can email him and see what he says.” I knew what he would say and sent the email explaining the situation.

Several weeks later I received this response.

“I also sent Da a whole lot of cash. Everything I bought her she sold! Moto Sai, washing machines, TVs et al. I spent over 1,5 million Baht on her over the years. First noticed the bump in her breast a few years ago, but she refused to go to the hospital (Me not want to know she said). Finally had to give up and move on. Sorry it took so long to reply. Haven’t the urge to return to Thailand soon. So many old friends have died it tells a story in its own right.”

I had to write back to Moon that she was on her own.

Same as everyone else in this new world.

There are no more Queens for a Day.

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