getHer name is เกตุ จำปาลื. In English you could spell it “Get Jampalee”. Her usual nickname is "Noy", but she has asked me to call her "Get". She is an elegant lady. She lives in Kalasin.

I had visited Laos from Saturday but nothing worked out. Friday morning I'm sitting on the steps in the Nongkhai railway station waiting for my train to take off, when I look up and see a really cute girl above me. She was looking the other way; I could not tell if she was young or old. Behind her a lady looked over the girl and it seemed to be her mother. I was watching for boobs when the girl turned around; there were none. She was a child, not an adult. Ah well. There's always mommy.

tom & noyThe girl was really delightful. She smiled at me and I smiled at her and we started talking a bit. Her mom and her sat down on the other end of the steps. I took this picture. When the train arrived, we got on together and sat together.

It turned out that they were taking the same train as me but getting off at Khonkaen, so we sort of drifted together. And I learned a lot about them.

The girl is a sweetheart. Her name is TOM, and she's eleven years old. Her mother is nicknamed Noy. She said she's forty, but I found out later she's forty-two. Tom and I got along real well, joking and teasing and teaching and everything.

Tom's father? He died one year ago. After a while, I realized that Tom was telling Mommy "Mommy? I want this guy to be my daddy."

The three of us were together about 3-4 hours; from the Nongkhai station all the way to the Khonkaen station. Tom and I were usually next to each other. There was as much physical contact as you would expect to have with a child; occasional tickling, that sort of thing.

At one point, after a few hours, we were playing the education game where I point to a body part and say what it is in English. For example, "elbow", "hand", "finger". One way to jazz up that game is to point to the lady and say "mommy". It's good for a laugh. Well, Mommy pointed to me and said "Father". I was stunned. Finally I said "OK" and we went on with the game. I threw in "Mommy" a few more times and Mommy always responded with "Father".

Tom's birthday is on March 30 and Tom invited me to come to her house for her birthday. She wrote down the address - several times. Mommy will cook, and she claims that she cooks well.

Finally the train stopped in Khonkaen. I stood up. The kid got off first. As mommy passed me, she came up to me, smiled, and sniffed my cheek. That's a kind of a Lao kiss, I understand. I was extremely surprised. It was clear that Tom wants me for a father, and the good-bye "kiss" was Noy's way of telling me that she finds the candidate acceptable.

Get is an elegant lady. That's the simplest description I can have for her. She may be rural Isan Thai, but she is a lady and she is elegant. Her movements are gentle and smooth; never rushed or desperate. Put her in different clothes and she could play an English noblewoman.

Get is forty-four years old. But she is a remarkable forty-four. Where she shows her age is in her face, and even that could be 39. She has "crows-feet" at the corners of her eyes, and she has tiny lines that appear at the corners of her mouth.

From the neck down Get has the body of a nineteen year old, and I can even tell you which nineteen year old: Aw. When I met Aw she was only nineteen years old (by Western computation), and Get's body pretty much matches what Aw's body was like back then.

When I lay there with her at night, there is a passion of the heart which is perhaps greater than I have ever experienced. Whether it is her love for me, or my love for her, I can not tell. Oh, and not to mention it, being with Get is extremely addictive.

Get shows no desire for my money. When I arrived at her village for Tom's birthday I gave her two thousand baht, and she said "Thank you" but did not get excited at all. During my visit she donated five hundred of that to the school where she works. Although I could help her, I could even double her income if I wanted to, she showed no particular interest in that possibility. Get seems to have somehow escaped the typical Isan belief that money can cure any problem.

Early in my visit I learned that I can not make phone calls into or out of Get's house. Get's phone works, but not mine; hers must have a more powerful antenna. My phone displays the signal level as 0, 1, 2, or 3, and most of the time it is on 0. Sometimes it shows 1. So I came to depend on text messages, which seem to sit on the phone until the phone can get a good enough signal to pump the message through. Three days with no phone, no Internet, with SMS messages as my only contact with the outside world. It was idyllic.

Time break. We had an interesting Sonkran together, and visited Nongkhai for a few days, then spend a few days in Banphai.

Most times, when Andy gets affectionate with Get, Tom files into a tantrum. Even when Tom didn't, Andy would lean over and kiss Get and then both Andy and Get would look over at Tom to see how she was taking it. Even if Andy could ignore Tom, Get could not.

Get has a three daughters in their twenties, and we never had any problem with these ladies. I guess they are old enouigh to know that they must satisfy their emotional needs with boyfriends, and not steal the man away from their mother.

Moral: one year old daughters enhance romance; eleven year old daughters are deadly to romance. On the other hand, Get and I have broken up already and Tom has pulled us back together.

Now I read in THE FOURTH QUADRANT: A MAP OF THE LIMITS OF STATISTICS, an essay by Nassim Nicholas Taleb:
  It is the exposure ... that creates the opportunities and dangers ...
In some situations, you can be extremely wrong and be fine,
in others you can be slightly wrong and explode.
It isn't the odds, it's betting more than you can afford to lose. Andy fell in love with Get. Danger. Get seems to have fallen in love with Andy.

When Get travels around the village, people look at her and refer to her as the farang's wife. I think Get likes that very much. Get thinks that she's the only farang's wife in her entire district (amphoe).

After a while, Tom started school again. So she really ought to be in school Monday through Friday. But somehow she seems to be able to talk her way out of school to come see me. One week she came down on Thursday for Ning's birthday. The next week she and her mother came down on Friday. On Sunday they had to go back. So it looks like Tom will be a regular thing on weekends.

Tom is going through a difficult time in her life. Difficult for her, and consequently difficult for everyone around her. She's about 80% child and 20% adult. She wants to be big, but she wants to be protected. She wants to go out on her own, but she wants mommy with her.

Eventually I found out why Get did not need my money. She's a loan shark! She will lend you 40,000 baht and collect 1,000 baht each month. At the end, you still owe her the 40,000 baht. In effect, the 1,000 baht a mont was interest. Good money, but dangerous.