“You so sexy.” His face covered in age. One long thick gray hair grew from his neck. His eyes hidden by his blue aviator sunglasses. With that one comment, that face that I initially thought of as harmless and those hidden eyes I once thought of as intriguing turned into a villain. I decided at that moment that this security guard’s intentions were insincere and that I would not attempt to talk to him again. My face got worried and then angry and then I giggled and walked away.
I walked outside. The sky was gray, trapping the humidity in what felt like the sauna that was called Suphan Buri. I was sweating minutes after stepping out the door, turning my shirt from white to translucent and then to a faint yellow. The food stands lined outside the apartment building attracted many gawking teenagers. Many of them stared, a couple said hello. They didn’t expect a response. Laughter followed.
I said hello to the couple who owned the colorful coffee van. They greeted me with smiles. A small child, no older than 7, sat in their van. His cheeks chubby. His hair shaved in a Mohawk. The woman in the coffee van dislikes this hair. Her child, still growing within, will never have a hairstyle like this. She told this once.
I continue and begin a trek across a sultry city for an iced coffee and a spot to read without distraction. The open parking lot is the perfect short cut. I take it every day despite my irritation of the forward security guard. Today he asks where I am going. I point in a direction and don’t say a word as I continue walking and avoid eye contact.
The coffee here is sweet. I have become accustomed to this taste of bitter and sweet. I enjoy my sugary, iced coffee with condensed milk. The sweat on my forehead and lower back dries. I relax.
Immersed into my book I begin to cry. I take it as a sign to leave the quaint coffee shop full of knick knacks for sale. There was room for only one customer to sit and I had used it for too long.
As I passed many shops that were closed and many restaurants that were overflowing, I came back to the blue ray bans. I failed at avoiding eye contact and he waved me over insistently. Hesitantly I approached. I followed his hand to his pocket as he took out a little notebook. In it he had jot down English expressions. One of them was “Where you go?” He held the note book close to his face and said nervously,
I said to you, you sexy. I don’t speak English. I am sorry. You… You beautiful.
With that he gave me a kind smile. When he put his notebook down It was there. He had written his apology in case he forgot. I smiled. He said again “You beautiful.” Feelings of confusion and embarrassment came over me. I was so sure he was a pig. I had even told my friends of his “gross” behavior. It was all a misunderstanding. I wish that the problem provoking this miscommunication did not exist so that we could discuss and laugh about it. All I wanted to do was say something, anything that he understood. “Mai pen rai.” I said with a smile even though my voice was shaky. He smiled back.
Unable to communicate anything further I wai him and say goodbye. Unsure whether to salute or wai, whether he was a security guard or a man, He began to wai and then quickly reverted to his salute, putting his hand to his forehead in a clumsy flurry.
He was a genuine man. It was a misunderstanding.