I had a clueless friend who once sat down at one of these tables. He was tired of walking, and needed a chair. Well, some girl sitting at the same table started chatting with him. He said they had a very good fun conversation and he even bought a beer from her. He described it as ‘a nice friendly enjoyable chat.’ But after a half-hour he decided to go home and got up to go. So the girl said, ‘you aren’t going to take me home with you?’ My friend was confused . . . ‘huh?’ He walked away in awkwardness. A year later he still hadn’t quite figured out what happened at that table until I explained ‘the system’ to him.
On rare occasion I pass by those tables at night, and sometimes they try to chat with me. They really are a friendly funny group of people. I remember one conversation went something like:
ไปไหน bpai1 nai5 “Where are you going?”
กลับบ้าน glab2 baan3 “Going home.”
ไปด้วยกันมั้ย? Bpai1 duay3 gan1 mai4 “Can I come with you?”
ไม่ได้คับ จะโดนแฟนตี mai3 dai3 krap4 ja1 don1 faen1 dtee1 “I can’t. My girlfriend will beat me up.”
ไม่เป็นไร งั้นฉันจะตีแฟนคุณก่อน mai3 bpen1 rai1 ngan4 chan3 ja1 dtee1 faen1 kun1 gawn2 “It’s ok. I’ll beat her up first.”
They always have something clever to say . . .
Note: in more recent years there have been mobile bar stands that pop up there at night, some run by mama-sans. The girls there are also becoming more like the stereotype, so it’s probably not a good example any more. The word ‘mama-san’, which has Japanese origin, is the same in Thai, มาม่าซัง maa1maa3sang1.
But don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to go near shady areas to find this stuff. I once met one, who looked and dressed absolutely normal, approach me around 1pm at the high-class mall Siam Paragon. Serious. It started off with her being friendly, then asking me to buy her food and such . . . but I kept saying ‘no’ and she got more persistent. I admit I was clueless until she asked to go home with me . . .
language note: A polite word for a girl who sells ‘services’ is called saow5 kaai5 bo1ri4gaan1 สาวขายบริการ. Do not confuse this with a girl who sells insurance and investment policies, saow5 kaai5 bpra2gan1 สาวขายประกัน. I once made that mistake . . . man, was she mad at me . . .