“After about two years of living as a transgender, my partner and I both decided we were more 2 spirited polyamourists, and although we tried to keep our misadventures outside our relationship, there were, of course, those moments when we all ended up in a messy naked heap on the floor.”
Greg collected the sticky rice with his fingers as he spoke, methodically rolling it into balls before plucking up a mouthful of green papaya salad, and popping it into his mouth. I found this to be a fascinating display of misplaced authenticity – the Thais, traditionally eat with a fork and spoon, using the fork to guide food onto the spoon before placing it into their mouths.
While his method of eating may have stemmed from a desire to go ‘native’, his geography was off – and I was dying to tell him how pretentious I found it. But that would have meant interrupting his monologue confession of his sexual history – we were now in the second hour of it, and although I was feeling extremely uncomfortable, the stories were hypnotic both in the graphic details of the experiences themselves, and the extent to which this man had tried some really ‘out-there’ stuff.
Straight. Gay. Bi. Transgendered. Two-Spirit. BDSM. Humiliation Play. Sexual Tourism. Paedophilia was out, he said – but everything else was fair game.
Greg continued, describing the young Mexican prostitute he’d struck up a relationship with in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. In my semi-trance, I scanned the day’s events to see how I ended up at this place, with this man. Short, fat, bald and in his early forties, Greg originally struck me as friendly, odd, gay and harmless. It was now clear that these monologues were an elaborate seduction ritual, and that I needed to interject some real boundaries before this got out of hand.
I had arrived in Nong Khai, a sleep Thai city near the border with Laos that morning. I’d met a Belgian girl and Greg had approached us discreetly, asking for a light and then offering to show us a cheap restaurant nearby for lunch. He was a journalist, he’d been in Thailand for months, and Nong Khai for awhile. Later, he came up and formally asked me to join him for dinner. I had accepted. And now I was being told, play by play, about his favourite sexual encounters and how he thought we had a deep connection. I tried to find it amusing, and slightly pathetic, while I ate quickly and took mental notes to help me recount this story later for my friends.
“I was raped recently,” Greg ploughed on, “in Kuala Lumpur. I didn’t remember it for days – I blocked it out. But during that time I was terrified and paranoid and I didn’t know why. I thought the CIA were following me. I thought the Thai embassy was going to grant my visa only to arrest me upon arrival. I actually went to the Republic of Ireland and attempted to claim asylum. The cultural attaché there was really nice – he talked me down and exposed the problems with my logic. Of course, once I remembered what happened it all made sense – I guess everyone goes through these paranoia phases”.
I’m in shock, and now worried as I’m not only dealing with a sexual eccentric, but someone with clear mental health issues. Thailand, I think, you sure do bring in the crazies. I ask Greg questions about whether or not he thinks he needs to speak to someone about that, but he laughs it off.
“Have you ever been sexually assaulted?” Greg asks. My jaw drops five feet to the floor. I stammer and try to find words to manage this question – not wanting to simply answer ‘no’ but to also say ‘thats none of your fucking business’. In my silence, he explains.
“I’m only asking,” he says, “because your breasts are very underdeveloped. In my experience, when women are assaulted when they are pre-pubescent, it affects their development. And you are so round and full everywhere else. It just seems obvious.”
“No,” I say, “my mother has small breasts. It’s genetic. I don’t think any part of me is ‘underdeveloped.’” I feel sick, and I want to leave. I don’t like this man, and I worry about making my rejection clear. He is unstable, and my silence has been interpreted as interest, my presence as evidence of our ‘connection’. I’ve been uncharacteristically silent, unassertive. I’ve had enough. I suggest we leave and have dessert in the guesthouse, where many travellers are gathered in the garden relaxing and drinking.
As we approach the guesthouse, I tell Greg I’m not interested in hearing his poetry in his room. I had a lovely time, but I think I’d prefer to join the large group. I see his face fall as we join the large table. I sit far away from him, and I know he’s figured out that somewhere he’s gone wrong, but he can’t quite figure out where. As I laugh and chat with the others, I can feel him staring at me. I excuse myself and go to bed.
Later, I’m awoken to Greg’s screams in the garden at 3am.
“Something is fucking GOING ON!!!” he screams “I want to go to room EIGHTEEN NOW. I WANT TO SEE MY FUCKING FRIENDS. YOU HAVE ALL TAKEN MY SHIT AND NO ONE ELSE CARES”. My heart drops. We are in room 18. I get up and check the deadbolt. Vee, my roommate, sleeps peacefully. Greg is asked to leave in the morning – he screamed for hours before they could get him to bed. I learn later that after I went to bed Greg asked if she was interested in joining him and me for a threesome.
“I could teach you so much,” he said to her, “you don’t even know.”