Ferry of Beauty
A trio of catalog ready Italian girls walk along Lamai Beach in Koh Samui.
For more babe-a-licious pictures of Thailand, click here.
I’m suddenly finding myself having second thoughts about this Thai island paradise. The ferry is full of bleary eyed faces looking exactly how I feel after a long night of restless bus riding–if, of course, I were some perfect, glossy Abercrombie model.
Years spent in Boulder surrounded by the masses of the conforming elite– sorostitutes so perfect on the surface their impossible good looks actually creating revulsion in us idealists and free thinkers–should have prepared me for the fact that their plasticine image is based not only on the large color ads in Glamour and Seventeen, but on a European standard from which these models are cut. Instead, I’m somewhere between shock, dismay, eager anticipation, and an intense bout of self-loathing.
The men stand tall, their chiseled jaws peppered with youthful bristles, unable to form a true beard and instead settling for that perfect 5-o’clock shadow seen only in blue jean ads and on underwear models. The women are lithe and supple, their simple attire capturing the girl next door look more perfectly than a Tommy Hilfiger advert. Their beauty and perfection drags lust from my core like a finger sitting at the back of my throat, the bile bubbling ever upward out of my control. I am lost among a cast of idle Aphrodites and errant Adonises, damned to find escape only by closing my eyes.
At first, I hid in a book, closing the world around me and suppressing the churning sexual tension that lay dormant on the edge of my sleep deprived libido. Though enraptured by the beauty of words, my eyes kept wandering from the serene black and white page to find a wavy-haired brunette, her sultry eyes sending my Francophile tendencies tittering. My first line of defense failing me, I closed the leaf of latent would be conquest (Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon having be defeated a day earlier) and buried my head in the crook of my arm, the soft darkness promising much needed and much desired sleep. Yet my dreams were haunted by the soft voices of foreign beauties, the echoes reaching far within the confines of my fragile psyche.
I don’t understand how my sexual desires could flare so hot at such little titillation. It’s not as though I’m in the midst of a dry spell. And even if I were, I’ve weathered arid reigns of over three years without during my college career. If anything, I’ve enjoyed more opportunities and more success this year than I had my entire lifetime prior. Somehow, my acceptance of my flaws, my immunity to criticism had, until this point, galvanized me against my romantic failings.
Since his arrival in Bangkok, Matt and I have enjoyed much conversation, from shallow quips to deep analysis of a sort only a few friends can provide for me. Sexual preference and attraction have been a recurring theme in our more personal analytical conversations. For me, nothing is more indicative of my ever unknowable desires than my experiences with Asian women.
I found many types of women enticing during my initial forays into sexuality: Hispanics and Latinos, Italians and Greeks, Native Americans and Eskimos, Arabs and Jews, Slavs and Scandinavians, Hawaiians and Puerto Ricans, Russians and Irish women. It was as if California Girls was written directly about my personal preferences.
Yet, throughout all the different women I had crushes on and found myself silently lusting after while biding my time on the train to school or even in class, Asians and black women were the two groups I glaringly missing from my personal pantheon of preference. I could appreciate their beauty and even cat call with the best of them if socially pressured, but I held no active prejudice or racism, though I’ll never be able to say for certain that societal norms didn’t foster some form of prejudice in me. I never ruled out Asians or Blacks, but I never found myself interested in one as more than a friend.
[ed – Please appreciate that I avoided making any jokes about Jews loving Chinese.]
My Freshman year of college was a metamorphosis in that respect. I found myself entranced by a Japanese-American girl. At first I was skeptical. It couldn’t be love or any of the early facets thereof because I had never experienced an attraction to an Asian. Soon, I was trying to avoid admitting it to myself that this utterly lovely and wonderful girl was more than the close friend she began as. Eventually, I felt as if there was no other choice but to admit it to myself. Unfortunately, in doing so, I also admitted it to her in a strange night of drunkenness she was in the process of wiping from her memory.
Nothing ever came of the two of us. In my mind, I had already blown it many times over. In her, it never had a chance to begin with. Even though a relationship never blossomed, the experience fostered a new understanding of whom I was attracted to and who was a romantic option for me.
During our tour of the Kwai River Bridge yesterday, our tour guide struck me as an extremely attractive young lady. She was a bit on the skinny side and the Westernized title of “Kate” was an obvious change from her real name, but her eyes were magnificent, her speech demure, and her manner sublime in all the right ways. Her Thai name was pronounced Ooie.
I tried to chat with her a few times, her English reasonable but still a barrier; my English equally faulty after only four hours of sleep the night before. During our third stop, I commented on her beauty to Matt, and, as the day went on, I could see shifts in his stance, subtle indications that he had, as he put it, shifted into alpha dog mode.
The rest of the tour, Matt appeared to take most opportunities to chat with Kate. By the time we loaded into the van for the return trip, they were flirting and joking in a way that left me awed and jealous. Though I bit my tongue and encouraged him to get her number, I silently wished that it were I that had made such a connection with our lovely guide.
In the end, our rapid exit onto the bus and further onto this ferry meant that even getting her number would have been moot. Matt admitted later that he had no idea she was flirting back, explaining that guys seem to have no sense of a woman’s messages unless they’re directed at someone else. It’s a logic I can’t fault, as I am as oblivious as he, though I’m obviously less of an alpha dog. I’m envious of his skill, though he’s readily admitted that it’s an unconscious maneuver, one he doesn’t plan to utilize due to reasons back home.
Most of the beautiful women on this ferry are headed for islands other than ours. I suspect that it is as much a blessing as it is a curse. I don’t have the physique of a Greek God, unless you refer to the gluttonous Dionysus. I don’t have the charms of a movie star, unless you mean to compare me to neurotic Jerry Lewis or Woody Allen. I do not fit in with these walking 8×12 headshots ready for Calvin Klein’s next campaign. How pleasurable can this white sand island paradise be if I’m constantly reminded how bad a match I am for the beach?