Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Stereotype Smashing 101

My friend Don Gilliland's friend Margaux moved into her new Bangkok home and had her birthday almost simultaneously, and while this might well have caused a lesser woman to retreat to her bed and take to strong drink, Margaux had a party, inviting family, friends and strangers, of whom I was not the only one.

Margaux is the kind of woman who when presented with bottles of wine and no corkscrew promptly goes next door to meet her new neighbors--and then invites them to join her party. It was sheer delight for her to discover that her  neighbor's face was adorned with thanaka paste--Margaux had just returned from a trip to Myanmar and her neighbor was from that country. It was true friendship at first sight.

Everyone at the party was enchanted by Margaux's exquisite young neighbor, who is smart and funny in at least three languages: her own, Thai, and English. Less enchanting for me was her male comrade, who was easily double her age, and he appeared to be equally disenchanted with me. There's a definite antipathy between many foreign men of a certain age and their femals counterparts, and Paul and I looked at each other with more than a little wariness.

As the evening wore on, that wariness wore off. It became obvious that despite the age difference, Margaux's neighbors were genuinely happy together, with eight years of cohabitation to attest to that. And when we discovered that we each had a deep love for our chosen country and respect for its people, as well as a voracious appetite for volumes of history, Paul and I began to become fledgling friends.

It's always a humbling experience to realize your own prejudices and borderline bigotry, and an exhilirating moment of growth when someone gives you the opportunity to rise above all that--plus a card for a computer genius at the intimidating mass of high tech stalls at Panthip Plaza. Thanks, Paul!


margaux said...

Wish my english was good enough to express exactly my thoughs Janet, but thanks for your comments about the house warming party !!!
whenever i see a guy with a woman that could easily be his daughter not to say his grand daughter, i also tell myself " here we go again ..., the usual crap" particularly in Tahiland of course NEVER is the other way round ...
still, i've seen Paul a couple of times after the party and he really is someone very interesting as well as very delicate person.
When i met him the other night at the swimming pool (i was there hanging around with a gorgeous italian boyfriend that definetely was my best birthday present, sorry Don, it's not that i didn't appreciate your book ...)he went so far as saying
" i hope you friends were not too disturbed by the fact i'm pretty old" i mean, what kind of guy says those thing ? definetely someone that does not belong to the usual crap ....

Janet Brown said...

Margaux, I'm so glad you found this! I was going to forward it to you today. Was too tired last night.
Paul is interesting and kind and I'm happy to have met him--but not as much as I am to have met you!

wanderer said...

I´m glad Margaux found it too and that she told me about it! But you didn´t mention the Italian.
I also liked your comments on blogging. I have let mine fall by the wayside and did have plans for a new one and you may just have spurred me on. Thanks Margaux and thanks Janet.