Love at First Sight
I met Luna, my girlfriend of five years, on the streets of Bangkok. I was walking to a phone booth, looking at all the lights and not really paying attention to where I was going. Luna was sitting with a friend on a small sidewalk restaurant, and I nearly walked into them. I apologized, and her friend asked me to sit down with them. I declined and walked on. I looked back, and saw Luna smiling at me.
This happened in Sukhumvit, a part of town with many sex workers and where inviting smiles are common. At least one or two other women had smiled at me that night. But after my phone call, I was still thinking about Luna’s smile. Both she and her friend looked a bit different than most of the women around Sukhumvit: different fashion sense, a bit darker, a bit heavier, an less bored and mechanical. And Luna’s smile–it was stuck in my mind. I decided to walk back, and take them up on their invitation.
Her friend Minnie invited me to sit down again as soon as she saw me. Minnie was a flirt–and as I learned later also an alcoholic and a freestyle sex worker (i.e. frequent sex with foreigners for free, for drinks, for money, and for long term relationships–whatever seemed appropriate at the moment). She lied to me about being from the Philippines and about having a job. But she was good natured and fun about it, and I am thankful to her for keeping the conversation going. Both Luna and I were a bit shy, and the encounter may have amounted to nothing without Minnie’s lubrication.
Luna shared some fried cakes she had cooked at her home in the country with us. She said that she had just arrived in Bangkok that morning for her job. When I told them I was a professor at CU, Minnie’s eyes opened wide but Luna only looked at me blankly. Minnie tried to explain what a professor was and that CU was a famous school. Luna only smiled at me. I started to focus my attention on Luna.
They were just finishing their meal, and talked about going to a bar that Minnie knew. Luna started to pay, but Minnie told her to put away her money and let me pay. I started to reach for my wallet, but Luna insisted that I hadn’t eaten anything and that she would pay.
They stood up abruptly and walked away quickly. I wasn’t sure if I was invited to come. Then Luna turned around, looked in my eyes, held out her hand and gave me that smile. I took her hand and we walked across the street together. . . .