There’s the romantic side of getting married, and then there’s the ‘wedding’ itself…
When I’m nervous I yawn, and the more nervous I am the more uncontrollable my yawning becomes. Right now I’m not tired, but I’m yawning once every twenty or thirty seconds
The man behind the desk is smiling at us and stamping papers. There are hundreds of papers and he’s stamping either side, in carefully chosen places, without looking down. The speed is incredible. He looks about seventy and I wonder for how many years he has been here, stamping these same forms in the same places.
I’m getting married today. Like, right now. Right this minute. It’s happening now, after months of planning, of waiting. There is no priest, no vows, no dress… Just a guy stamping papers quietly and smiling while I yawn like an idiot.
We’re already wearing our rings – only on the wrong hands, and after we go outside we’ll switch them over. I wonder how it’ll feel on the other hand. I got used to it pretty quickly on my right. It’s tight, though. I can’t get it off by myself. Only Amy can pull it off.
Our witnesses are a couple of translators. One doesn’t seem to speak much English, and is sitting quietly. The other speaks fluently and is falling in love with Amy because she was born in Korea and, for her, Korea is the epitome of cool.
And so now, as I am in the process of being wed, watching the papers near completion, Amy is trying to explain to this girl that Korea is not “the most perfect country” on earth, and that Korean pop stars are to be pitied, not worshipped. “In fact,” she explains, “the people are all batshit crazy. It’s in our blood, especially the women.”
And I yawn again. And again.
“I can speak a little Korean,” the girl says. “Saranghaeyo! Oppa!” She’s trying to convince us, in spite of having never been to Korea, that it’s the most wonderful, romantic place on earth.
There’s a couple behind us, waiting patiently. They were ahead of us earlier, offering help with the translation issue, but somehow they fell behind.
So many white men marrying Thai women, many with visible bumps on their bellies. So many I wonder if we skipped ahead by virtue of our passports. The surly bitch at reception didn’t like us, but she really didn’t like the couple when they asked if they could help us with translation. The Koreaphile is her friend, I think. A cheap scam.
“Korean men are so sensitive,” she tells us. “And the women are so beautiful. Such white skin.”
I yawn again. It’s making my eyes water. Didn’t think I’d cry when I got married.
Saw a woman last night with her half-white baby, wandering the streets of Soi Rambuttri. An extremely drunk American took her baby and played with it as she told us the daddy was no longer around. She seemed to know all the drunken middle-aged white guys, but none of them had brought her to the amphur.
The man is still flipping through the papers, checking, stamping, asking our translator questions like, “How long have you lived together?” and “Why do you want to get married in Bangkok?” Nothing too probing, but it seems to indicate where the next stamp goes.
“I went to Korea once,” the girl tells us. “It was so clean. Well, I was just at the airport, actually…”
There’s a sign on the wall that says, “Happy New Year!” It’s July 13th. Even in Asia New Year was many, many months ago.
The old man is looking at me and smiling and I try desperately to avoid eyecontact. I fear that he suspects we are doing something wrong by marrying here. It seems that half the people married here are foreigners, but never do they have two foreigners marrying each other.
And then, suddenly, he’s done.
“You’re married,” the translator tells us as the old man smiles again. “Congratulations.”
We are, indeed, married. No grand ceremony, just the stamping of papers over talk of K-pop.