Bangkok’s reputation as one big, nocturnal XXX sex show full of tattooed pole dancers and post-op ladyboys beckoning with flesh and degradation? It’s obviously still out there, but we’re too blinded by diapers and Elmo books to see it. Besides, we go to bed at 8. Tonight, though, we kept Hannah up late and met some friends for dinner at one of Bangkok’s many night markets. I wondered if I would see some freaky shit.
Freakiest thing I saw was this:
Whatever they’re making in there, I want some.
You drink it, then you smoke it. Then you lie down.
I tried to devour this evil poultry before it sunk its deep-fried claws into my neck and squeezed the life out of me. But there didn’t appear to be anything edible underneath the heavy batter, just lots of foot cartilage and veins and the audible screams of a thousand angry Thai ghosts. I dipped and chewed, dipped and chewed, but nothing ever broke down, other than me—I went in search of pad thai.
The Night Market was cool, though. Another series of endless stalls proffering tchotckes, and then a massive courtyard with tables stretched for hundreds of yards, surrounded by ramshackle kiosks proffering every kind of Thai food imaginable. Video screens showing a soccer game, lights flashing, a band playing pop hits. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard “Baby Got Back” in Thai. (“I like big gôn and I cannot bpôh-bpòt!”) It was a big party, and we were in the middle of it.
We drank an insane two-liter contraption of Warsteiner with our friends, both of whom are American women teaching English in Bangkok. They live like royalty here, with their own servants and drivers and huge apartments. Both kept telling us to move to Bangkok, and the more beer I drank, the better it sounded.
As for the sex and depravity, the only nudity I saw that night involved Sarah breastfeeding Hannah. She was eating tom sum with anchovies and crab at the time, which could qualify as kinky. That’s gotta be some spicy breast milk. Even spicier: Hannah, when she was done, grabbed a chili pepper from the soup and promptly put it in her mouth. This is the kind of chili pepper that has put me in the bathroom for much of the past week, crying bitterly to myself, and in a flash I imagined what kind of damage it could do to an 11-month-old baby and wondered about the quality of Thai hospitals.
Before we could even begin to freak out or shift into Operation Heimlich, Hannah turned the kind of color you don’t find in your average rainbow, coughed a few times, then was back to normal. No tears. No aftermath.
My first thought was relief: My child would live.
My second was pride: That kid is amazing.
My third thought: I’m not going anywhere near that diaper.