COME ALL YE FAITHFUL by Peter Nolan Smith

Pattaya is a city not well known for monogamy. Promises of fidelity last until you leave the room, because this city on Thailand’s Eastern Seaboard has temptations by the thousands and those temptations rarely say no.

Bar girls, rent boys, ka-toeys, booze, and drugs added up to damnation according to Reverend Joe Stannis of the Holy Revival Church located down the street from my old soi. He preached in a black suit to passing motorists.

A megaphone in hand.

“You are all going to hell.” Only in English.

The Thais thought he was crazy, because attached to his concrete chapel was a sign pointing the way to the nearest ‘Love Motel’.

The Angel Inn.

The rooms rent by the hour or day for Heaven on Earth testifying to Pattaya’s motto.

“Good men go to heaven. Bad men go to Pattaya.”

This quip was borrowed from Mae West’s epithet. “Good girls go to heaven. Bad girls go anywhere they want.”

Nevertheless this doesn’t mean everyone in Pattaya is all sinners, because even Sodom had one good man and my friend Richard has never cheated on his wife in Pattaya.

Several years back we were sitting at the Buffalo Bar.

Beers before us.

The DJ was playing HOTEL CALIFORNIA. The Englishman’s girlfriend was at his side. Despite working the bars for ten years Lee’s undying beauty was a miracle and Richard explained his faithfulness.

“I’m too lazy to be unfaithful and it’s not in my nature.”

Richard was a London contractor working 10-12 hour days, so his lassitude only pertains to matters of the heart.

Thankfully he doesn’t know that his Thai wife sleeps with another man. His friends never tell Richard, because the Englishman feels good about himself for being good.

After Richard and Lee left my friend Nick said, “No one is faithful in this town, unless it’s to their football team.”

Nick was a Tottenham Spurs fan. His girlfriend worked as a service girl at the Buffalo Bar. Fen was too pretty for words and too pretty for just one man. The lanky Brit explained, “Fen has a boyfriend. He pays for her schooling. She only sees me when he leaves down. She considers herself ‘faithful’ to both of us. Fen never asks me for money, so I’m the only man in Pattaya getting free sex.”

“Nothing is free in Pattaya.” Everything had a price, even if it was marked ‘free’.

Two nights later Richard asked Nick at the Buffalo, “Is Fen your mia noi?”

“No, she not mia noi. She geek.” Richard’s girlfriend answered for Nick and waved for another gin-tonic.

“What’s the difference?” Richard’s question was directed at his girlfriend. The seeds of suspicion were worming into his trust. Lee stammered for a second, but Nick saved her from having to tell the truth.

“A mia noi you take care of along with having a mia leung or first wife. A geek is someone you have sex with and care about, but only a little. You see her when you see her and it’s no big deal.” Nick obviously had been educated in the difference.

“But your girlfriend doesn’t think she’s your geek?”

“No, Fen is what she is.”

“So you never say the love word?”

“No.” Nick shook his head. “It’s a sex thing.”

“So she’s a geek?” Richard couldn’t fathom why people sleeping together for purely sex.

“No, not geek. Not mia noi. Not friend.” Richard’s girlfriend was exasperated by the his husband’s density, but he only wanted to know where Nick’s girl stood in the scheme of things.

“I like her, but I’m not in love. I’m not faithful to her either. Not like you and Lee.”

I got up and left to avoid any examination of my situation.

Jamie Parker was sitting at the other end of the bar.

When I told my friend about the discussion, the New Yorker smiled slyly and said, “This is not a town for the pure of heart. Some women here regard their husbands as faithful if they don’t bring anyone home or are seen with another women by their friends. Other women think you’re cheating if you look at another woman or think of one. Men will believe any story by these bar girls to grant them immunity from a life of sleeping with complete strangers. I call it the Eliza Doolittle syndrome. I can rescue her from this life of sin. Ha, but it’s not the farang boyfriend most men have to worry about. It’s the Thai ex-. They never die, even if the girl says his husband was killed in a motorcycle accident.”

“I’ve heard that story twice.”

“Bet every man in Pattaya has heard it at least once.” Jamie had little use for stories. His girlfriend had been working on Soi 6 three years. Ort liked being a bad girl and so did Jamie. “

Everyone has been unfaithful in either thought or deed and I don’t know what’s worse. Thinking about it and doing it.”

“Doing it.”

“Yeah, but at the end of your life are you going to be sorry about not doing it or doing it?”

“There were twins at the old Blackout a Go-go. I should have taken them home, except I was been faithful to my previous girlfriend. She left me for an Italian.”

“Regrets I have a few but then again too few to mention.”

“Sinatra the Philosopher.”

“Do-be-do-be-do,” Jamie crooned off-key and several bar girls stared his way, as if he was a dog with his paw stuck in a door. “Are you thinking about going home with someone from here?”

“No way.” I lived two minutes from the Buffalo. Mam was my steady. We had been seeing each other for over a year.

“Are you still faithful to her?”

Yes. Maybe she gave me a love potion.”

“Maybe she did, because there’s something wrong with being faithful in Pattaya. You’re not scared, are you?”

“Of what?”

“Of Mam cutting off your penis and feeding it to the ducks.” Castration was a favorite punishment Thai women inflict on philandering males. So much so that Thai doctors had become the world’s premier saviors of amputated penises. Accordingly Thai women cast the severed member to the duck pen, since quackers, unlike pigs, eat anything. Even cock.

“Better to keep your sins in thoughts.” Jamie advised, for Ort was equally vicious as Mam when it came to his roaming eye.

“Deeds we can save for the after-life.”

“Or secrets we never tell anyone else. Is it a sin if no one knows?”

In this town everyone knows sooner or later. Mam also knows that once I’ve had two drinks all I really want is a couple more drinks and I went home to surf through the ennuidom of international TV. Mam was playing cards with her friends. She wasn’t answering her phone. The night was still young, but I shut off the TV and went to sleep with dreams of becoming a saint.

At least in deed.

Thought was another story, because anyone in Pattaya is going to hell.

At least according to Reverend Joe Stannis of the Holy Revival Church and a baptist knows Sin when he sees it and so do I.

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