Saturday, September 03, 2005


Nobody in Thailand has a last name. Oh... Thai people have last names and first names. I'm referring to the expatriates... the farangs. We don't have last names.

That's not that big a problem if you have an uncommon name, like Jil. I'm Jil, and everybody knows it. If there were two of us Jils in Pattaya, I'd likely be American Jil and my counterpart would be British Jil or Aussie Jil or Kiwi Jil or something like that. (I never hear anybody called "Yankee"... so I wouldn't be Yankee Jil, although I could be, I suppose. )

The people that have it tough are the Mikes and Johns and Daves of Thailand. They get real nicknames. For the Mikes I know, there is Bike Mike, Tex Mike, Mike Greybeard, and Reeza's Mike. (Yes... you could get nicknamed after your wife here... which is why we avoid marriage at all costs.)

Of course, if you own a business, you automatically become a walking billboard: "I'm Bob of Bob's Bar-be-que." "Have you seen Rick? Margaritavilla Rick?"

Personally, I don't know why we don't have last names. Maybe because we are officially casual now, living here in Thailand. If you give somebody your last name, you might as well have handed them a business card or (gawd!) an e-mail address. (Good jesus man! The next thing you'll want is my passport number and tax ID.)

Seriously... I have some exceptionally close friends... and I don't know their last names.

It's kind of cool though, in a gritty Casablanca / frontier kind of way. Losing the last names makes us all characters in a Hemmingway novel, where we are known by our gangland Apache-esque Tony-one-eye and Jimmy-the-pistol monikers.

Well, maybe it is becuase we are just too fucking manly for last names. OK?


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