I’m still trying to complete 24 hours of sobriety.
Yesterday I made it to 10.p.m.
I spent much the of the afternoon with friends at my old haunt, out by the lake, east of Pattaya. They were all getting drunk and I stayed sober. but eventually I drove back into Pattaya, hit a few pubs and suddenly decided to drink again. I drank until 2a.m. and went home very drunk. The morning was a write off, but I am feeling much better now.
I will try again today. I now know that I can never drink in moderation. I am sick. I have to find a way back to sobriety, or I will surely get very ill, have an accident or harm myself, probably fatally in some other way.
MOBI’S STORY – (PART 34)
THE RETIREMENT YEARS (CONTINUED)
“It’s time for wife number 5”
The Wedding was fascinating and exhausting, but ultimately it was a traumatic disaster.
I was already a regular visitor to Dang’s village in Sa Keo, and everyone in the village and the surrounding area knew me quite well. After all, I had built one of the village’s most ostentatious houses, and I had also been the main benefactor of many drunken parties, where folk came from miles around to eat drink and make merry at my expense.
We arrived a couple of days before the date of the wedding, and the arrangements commenced in earnest.
The whole area surrounding Dang’s house was cordoned off and the road blocked off to traffic to accommodate the stage and dining area for the forthcoming wedding. Caterers were coming all the way from Chonburi, and one of the biggest entertainment groups for miles around were coming to set up stage and provide the live music and entertainment.
In the meantime the monks from the local Wat turned up on a tractor and set up a huge sound system outside the house to provide music for the ‘pre-wedding’ festivities that would run for the 2 days preceding the wedding itself. So the loud music, eating, drinking and merrymaking commenced, and the whole village downed tools for the duration.
Dang and I had already had western wedding outfits made at the Bangkok wedding shop: Dang in a beautiful, floor length, white figure hugging wedding dress, and me in traditional evening dress. But on arrival in Sa Keao, we both went into town to be fitted up with Thai style wedding clothes, which would also be worn on the day.
Then there were the photographers, the wedding video makers, the cake suppliers, the floral designers and flower suppliers, and “Uncle Tom Cobley” an’ all.
I made many, many trips to the ATM during those 2 days.
Things started to turn a bit sour when Dang disappeared for longer and longer periods – leaving me alone at the house, surrounded by a bunch of drunken Thai men. Of course I was also drinking, and the more I drunk the more upset I became at Dang’s long, unexplained absences. It finally came to a head on the eve of the wedding when Dang had been absent virtually all afternoon and evening. I was getting drunker and ever angrier. I kept calling her, and she kept telling me she was with friends, or having her hair done and would be back shortly; but of course “shortly” never came.
(I should add that even by this relatively early stage in our relationship, I had realised that Dang was a compulsive and accomplished liar, and that she was always up to no good, so every time she was out of sight, I would become paranoid about where she might be and what she might be doing. As the years wore on, I slowly realized that all my worst fears were more than justified.
It was getting very late, and still no sign of Dang, and I got so angry and drunk, that I stormed out of the house and staggered through the village, before passing out at the side of the road, a mile or so from Dang’s house.
I was found by some locals who were sent out to track me down and escort me back home. I found that Dang had finally deigned to return. No doubt someone told her what had happened.
She was beside herself with rage. How dare I shame her in front of her family!!! She had not done anything wrong and I had behaved in such a shameful and disgusting way. The wedding was off, and I should leave now and go back to Bangkok!
Dang would always defend herself against any problem that I had with her by attacking me. She would always come out with all guns blazing, even though I had caught her out in an outrageous lie or unacceptable behavior. On this particular occasion, she had promised me faithfully all day long that she would return in the afternoon, and then in half and hour and so on and so on, and of course it was nearly midnight when she finally arrived. But it was all my fault for getting drunk and shaming her. And if I hadn’t kept calling her she would have come home hours ago.
So in a pattern of behaviour that was to be repeated time and time again over the years, I offered my abject apologies, and begged her to forgive me, and apologized to her mother and family. She finally relented and agreed that the wedding would proceed after all.
I slept very little that night, and the wedding day was one of the most exhausting days I have ever lived through.
Dang disappeared at around 4.30 a.m. to go in to town and have her hair done and be made up and dressed in traditional Thai garb for the morning ceremonies. By the time Dang left, there were already dozens of villagers and family milling around the house preparing food and setting up stuff in perpetration for the Thai ceremony.
The photographers, video team, and floral people turned up and commenced their own preparations.
Dang finally arrived back around 8.30 looking like a Thai Princess. I had to admit she looked absolutely stunning.
Then at nine about a dozen monks arrived on a tractor and went into the house, and Mobi – dressed as a traditional Thai Puyai (nobleman) was taken out of the village to await start of the ceremony. I was accompanied by a large crowd of villagers , and a pickup truck which had a sound system on the back together with a group of Thai musicians, sporting various western and Thai musical instruments.
At the stroke of nine the music started up, and I had to walk slowly back to the village, accompanied by mor lam,(northeastern folk music); the already drunken revelers dancing madly around me. The women seemed even drunker than the men and they kept covering me with flowers as we slowly made our way back to the house.
Upon arrival at the front door, I was bidden to remove my shoes and socks, and a local girl washed my feet, and I was told to pay her. In fact I recall that during my march back to the house I was forever paying various amounts of money to all kinds of people for God knows what reason – ostensibly Thai traditions. Maybe they made it up as they went along.
Once inside the house, I found the monks seated along one side of the large downstairs room, and all the family and visitors kneeling and facing them.
The sound system was alive and well, and the wedding activities in the house were broadcast at umpteen decibels to the surrounding countryside to those who were not invited indoors.
The village elders took charge of the ceremony – which of course was all in Thai – and went on forever and ever. There was much chanting and praying, with Dang and I being the focal point in the center of the room.
We had to kneel with our hands in the prayer position for ages, and after a few minutes I could no longer manage to maintain the required position – I was in agony. A kind soul brought me a cushion which he put under my elbow to provide support. I looked ridiculous – but what the h…..
After what seemed like an eternity, Dang and I were blessed by the monks and then the food was brought out, which we had to present to them, one at a time. Then there was some other stuff, and finally the part of the ceremony involving the monks was over and at long last I could get up off the floor.
But the remainder of the proceedings still had a long way to go. We were re-seated in a specially prepared area, surrounded by a large wedding banner and floral decorations, and had to greet every member of family, and every villager, one at a time, to receive their individual blessing.
Every blessing had to be photographed for prosperity, and it seemed never ending. When at last everyone, including the village cat had blessed us, the group photographs started. I had had little sleep, no food, was terribly hung over and sore from my kneeling on the hard wooden floor, but had to endure another hour of photographing: large groups, small groups, family groups, friend groups, in-law groups, and so on ‘ad infinitum.’
Then I had to pay over the Sin sod, (wedding dowry). The agreed amount of gold and cash was produced, counted and duly handed over to Dang’s mum – all with a running commentary to everyone, near and far. She then wrapped up her new found wealth in a large cloth and and took it upstairs with the loot over her shoulder.
For the last item on the morning agenda, Dang and I were accompanied upstairs by family and friends into the marital bedroom, where the bed had been prepared, covered with rose petals. I was required to pick up my wife and put her on the bed and lay down with her and everyone covered us with the petals. (It goes without saying that all this was photographed for posterity.)To this day I’m not too sure what it was all supposed to mean, but if it was intended to ensure that we enjoyed long and happy sexual relations, then it failed miserably.
The day was only half over and I was exhausted.
The evening part was yet to start, and as I made my way downstairs to get some food in my belly, and cure my hangover with a ‘hair of the dog” I noticed with an inward groan that the catering company had arrived, and were immediately followed into the area by the “entertainers”, in two very large trucks, jammed full of staging and other equipment.
The stage that they erected over the next few hours would had done justice to Wembley stadium. It was massive, and came complete with yet another, even bigger sound system, and a full range of overhead stage lighting. The stage was so high that the crew, musicians and dancers were able to set up house underneath, and cordon off little rooms with curtains so that they could get ready and change in relative privacy.
The caterers did their thing and about 60 tables were set up in front of the stage and the entrance to the site was prepared. By the time dusk had descended, the whole area had been transformed into an impressive, outdoor wedding venue.
Five of Dang’s lovely girl friends had arrived from Bangkok, and they were dressed to kill. Together they formed the ‘welcome committee’ at the venue entrance and as the guests arrived, they handed over their envelopes containing money, and in return were given little wedding mementos by the ladies, before being escorted to where Dang and I were standing – this time dressed in our ‘western’ wedding clothes, for yet another session of photographs. We had to be photographed with every guest who arrived, and once again it seemed to go on forever.
In the meantime the food was served, the music had started, the singers were doing their stuff, and the dancing girls were dancing up a sexy storm on the huge wedding stage.
At length the late arrivals reduced to a trickle so we then made our way to each table in turn, for yet more group photos with the guests. By this time I was running on adrenalin and alcohol. I must have done more waiying on that wedding day that I have done before or since in my entire life.
Before I had managed to get a single spoonful of food in my mouth, the speeches started. We had an MC, and if any of my dear readers have ever been to any official Thai ‘do’, you will know that Thais love to speak on stage to a captive audience. I was looking forward to some personal time to get something to eat, but that idea was soon shattered when to my shock and embarrassment I was called to go up on stage, along with Dang , her mother and other local dignitaries.
We formed a line alongside the MC, and interviews were conducted, one at a time. I was dreading my turn, as although I spoke reasonable Thai, this was all too much for a humble farang. At length he asked me if I had anything say, and I mumbled shyly back – in very bad Thai, thanking everyone for coming. I don’t think many of the Issan speaking guests understood one word that I said, but the MC kindly translated for me into ‘real’ Thai.
Then each guest was invited to sing! I put my foot down here, and even though they assured me I could choose a farang song, I stubbornly refused, so in the end they gave up on me and moved down the line.
The speeches and singing were finally at an end, and I left the stage, managing to get something to eat and to get drunker than ever.
Dang was also doing pretty well, and was getting uproariously drunk. I was hoping to God that she behaved herself and didn’t start any trouble with me. Please God, let this be one occasion when we could get drunk, enjoy ourselves and stay happy with each other.
The cake was cut, the champagne opened and the party became ever drunker, wilder and louder. The band were paid extra to keep the music going past the agreed finish time and it was around 4 a.m. when it was finally all over.
Dang, her friends, Mobi and all the family and neighbours were pissed out of their gourds.
Then the trouble started.