More Q & A ...

Hope you don't mind the inclusion of an action shot from my active social life.

Well, where to begin, with so many topics to choose from?

First I refuse to be drawn into semantic word games. There is far too much of that in the forums and it is always a downhill path.

I loved that really polite, roundabout way of asking me “How Much”? As noted, figures run to the extremes. It is just such a personal and individualized subject, that in spite of its obvious importance to all of us, I refuse to comment on money and how much. I liken it to asking about the specifics of one’s private parts. There is simply no polite, discrete way to inquire about the size, shape, appearance, smell and pubic array of someone else’s partner, for example. Sorry, money is important, as is sex, but you will just have to figure out that one, all by yourself.

As for the question about why I “retired” at the tender young age of 53, perhaps I shouldn’t correct you by informing you that the actual age was more like 40. That is apt to raise even more questions than it answers. I am unable to make any grandiose claims of being a self-made man. I always hated work and everything about it, but that is a very long, drawn out philosophical debate, better suited for another time. I can say that I have always been very, very disciplined and in control of my finances. A fair amount of luck has lead me to where I am now, however.

DAGO, what can I say? From what I have seen, there isn’t anything you can learn from me. You are doing just fine. I feel a kinship and truly enjoy having you along for the ride. I hope you stick around.

Finally we arrive at the winning question of the day. “Who is this woman that has changed your life?” Thanks JK for giving me the opening to discuss one of my favorite subjects. Specifically my wife and more generally, women.

I read the question to my wife and asked her if perhaps I should say that I had made or created her. Her response was typical. “Tell them I couldn’t change you “at all” and you changed me “a lot” (note: long drawn out pronunciation).” Perhaps it is semantics but I wouldn’t say I really changed her. I simply used my advanced age and extensive experience to manipulate her into finding her own potential. Understand, I have friends that bristle at the notion of game playing or manipulation. I find their arguments more than a bit naive. Life is difficult enough without limiting ones arsenal of tools and techniques to achieve a successful conclusion. Why should I not take advantage of all I have learned over the years, from all the various women I have known?

Born the oldest of three siblings, in a then remote and very poor Northern Thai Village. Born to a singularly simple mother, both illiterate and unintelligent. Her father epitomized all that I find disdainful about my own sex. Had he been born in my country, to more money and had a different family name, he could have been elected President. As it was, his attempts to be elected village headman were to no avail. I doubt even his own family voted for him.

I would suspect that being the oldest child and having that responsibility laid upon her slender shoulders, molded her character to some extent. Uniquely, she is a self described chameleon, capable of adapting and blending in to almost any situation, social or cultural group.

I recognized elements of her life that had been lacking and went about creating a fertile environment that would nurture her neglected potential. It took some time and trial and error before she began to find out who she was. Reminiscent of the movie Runaway Bride where she had to compare egg recipes to determine what she “really” liked. She is still a work in progress and struggles with some control issues. But then again, I have enough control for both of us. That is part of the synergism of our relationship. We are better together than separate. We compliment rather than compete. I am the rock that brings stability and she is the water that comforts and envelops me, as well as the air I breath.

Experience had taught me to be guarded and elusive. She released a kinder gentler me, capable of feeling and more importantly, showing those feelings, at least to her. On a more practical level we both had a checklist of things that we knew from experience were deal-breakers in a relationship. I had tired of the following scenario.

Somtam, gossip, gambling, shopping, somtam, alcohol, superstition, no can’t do that, no don’t like that, somtam, Thai soap operas, one baht comic books, celebrity gossip, no interest in anything new, somtam, no hobbies, no interests other than food, shopping and money, untrusting and untrustworthy, petty, competitive, jealous, and even more somtam.

Sure she is Thai, so still likes some of that stuff (somtam) but she reads books in English (Da Vinci Code for example). She went skydiving and hiked with me in amazing places. She has foreign girlfriends not just Thai. She is trusting and never goes through my stuff. She eats and enjoys many different cuisines though sadly she is not a great cook. Not for want of trying, however. I eat and praise what she feeds me while she chides me for my dishonesty. We tease each other mercilessly at times. We, however, never loose sight of the big picture and as she says, “Even when I hate you, I still love you.”

I believe her list included things like no alcohol, smoking, gambling, wife beating, philandering, no all night soccer matches on TV, ample time for showering her with attention, a touch of arrogance, a strong physical attraction and basically not to be anything like her father. Fortunately we share the same flaw or age issues. Neither of us are attracted to members of the opposite sex who are in the same age group. That definitely works to our mutual advantage.

I admire the courage of those who trustingly dive headfirst into uncharted waters. That is far beyond my capacity. I revel in diversity and complexity and view the world from my own skewed perspective. Perhaps I have raised more questions for you than I have answered on this day but I strive more to stir the pot and improve the flavor of life than to put a period at the end of a sentence or a dollar sign to anything.