The boobs were what got me in trouble the most. There was so much scrutiny against them one would think I used them to my advantage and got caught. Unfortunately, that was not the case, they got me in trouble for merely existing. They were an American delicacy so often ignored and part of American culture. Fat Americans who consumed Doritos on a daily basis had large tits. Smaller people from other countries that don’t have mystery chemicals in their foods have smaller tits. It is basic science. I could see it on their faces every time I walked up to assembly each morning before classes. I greeted them with a Wai, my two hands meeting at the center of my heart in the shape of a lotus flower.
“Sawadee Ka,” I said.
They responded with the similar Thai greeting.
It wasn’t every day, but on occasion, the Thai teachers looked me up and down and whispered to each other.
I imagined them saying things like “What a harlet.” or “Who does this floozie think she is?”
I didn’t blame them for these thoughts as there were a few factors against me.
ONE. The only clothes to fit a body of a bodacious American body were the larges at H&M, but the larges were often difficult to track down. TWO. I was incredibly from drinking liters and liters of beer. My weekends consisted fo telling my teacher friends I was taking it easy, but then there was always that one bitch who brought an entire bottle of wine to the beach. One glass would turn into five and then that same bitch would suggest we go to the party street. We both would plan on 9 PM to meet up at the tequila bar, Nidas. She would go home and get ready and I would go home and pass out in my bed. THREE. The female teachers must wear skirts. When I asked about this, I was told to oblige because it was part of the culture. I was much more comfortable wearing pants while teaching drama to high school level girls and boys. I wanted to respect that culture I was in, however, I was skeptical as I had a track record of not sitting very "lady-like” in dress clothes. I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of people who’ve seen my bum unexpectedly reached into the thousands. I like to sprawl.
I struggled to keep my hips in those tube skirts, which so frequently rode up my legs. Equally, finding a blouse that didn’t pucker the chest was a 1:10 ratio. With all those contributing factors, I walked up to school each morning looking like a swollen baked potato trying my absolute best to fit into human clothes.
I think my bloated body may have been the reason the Thai teachers never warmed up to me. My face retained five extra pounds of water weight, and my breasts held an extra forty. It became noticeable for the students as well. The girls I taught said nothing because they were quiet, respectable, and cared more about their own appearances than mine. I had a week maximum for the boys to stay hypnotized by my strange American figure, but after a week they would grow bored after looking at the same thing over and over. They were likely disappointed that there was no sparkly confetti shooting out of them and no fembot machine guns. Boobs can become boring when they’re just two lumps in a Victoria Secret holster. It after the boys drop their fixation that they became a bunch of rowdy little assholes.
I cannot count how many times I threatened them. With what you may ask? The ability to eat lunch. It was an empty threat. They knew I had no control. They could see it in my eyes. What would happen if they upset me? Nothing. I would scream at them and tell them they were the reason I was leaving the school. They would become quiet finally, but the next day it would return to the same madness. My way of punishment was singling out students and making the other class members give them their love.
“Hey guys, Dennis is acting out because he doesn’t get enough love. Can we all just give him our support and let him know that we’re there for him?”
Dennis would cower with embarrassment as the other students gave him hugs. After that Dennis would listen in class for the next couple weeks.
Due to my overinflated demeanor, the younger students made a key observation that I may be with child. When training to be a proper teacher in Cambodia, the kindergarten students would line up and take turns hugging and kissing my belly. They would rub it as though it were the magical lamp from Aladdin, but instead of a genie with the ability to grant three wishes, they hoped it was a fetus. I broke their hearts when I had to explain to them that I was just an American who drinks beer far too frequently.
I gave extra lessons to what would be considered 7th graders every Monday evening. I wasn’t a fan of it. Each Monday at around 3:30 I would search around the humid hallways for my students. It was a game of hide and seek and I was always seeking. If they weren’t in the cafeteria scarfing down chicken nuggets or weird gelatin snacks, they were hiding in the bathrooms where I couldn’t reach them. The gymnasium was always an option to hide because it was loud and full of other kids who were hiding from their extra lesson teachers. On the journey to finding them, three basketballs would fly at my head and nearly kill me. I would always find them though, and yell at them to come to the classroom. Once this long, grueling, and sweaty task was complete, the students would take another fifteen minutes to get to the classroom.
I was relieved extra lessons were nearly half-way through when I heard one of them ask, “Teacha, you have baby?”
“No, Nine,” that was his name. “I do not have baby.”
“Teacha, you fat.”
I remained speechless as the children screeched with laughter. My face got hot with embarrassment.
I screamed at them telling them to be quiet and sit down and shut up and be quiet and sit down and shut up. I had to repeat it four or five times. They knew they were in trouble then. I wrote the following on the board:
I WILL NOT SAY TEACHER LINDSEY IS FAT.
I made them write the sentence thirty times and if they spoke a syllable, the lines would be doubled.
It was the whispers amongst Thai teachers about my boobs and the rumors of pregnancy from the students that really made me lose my drive to try at all. By the end of my contract, I was taking naps on the floor behind my friend Harriett’s desk in the art room. I would go home and sleep for three hours and then come back in time to make an appearance for afternoon activities. I was the kid in the hallway with my earbuds ignoring students if they wanted to say hello or ask me a question.
The older kids liked me because I would shit on Donald Trump every lesson.
“Teacher, how does the voting system work in America?”
“It’s a load of shit Jon, let me tell you.”
The whole lesson I prepared vanished and a discussion about the Electoral College filled the space.
I taught the Black Lives Matter movement and other social injustice topics for a class called Social Awareness which was supposed to be a class about social media, but I turned it into a class on how to be PC. This was where I encouraged Thai 7th graders to debate about immigration laws in America because it was during the time of Trump’s travel ban. When I wasn’t brainwashing students with Democratic propaganda, I was showing them whatever show I was obsessed with at the moment.
In Thailand kids miss school constantly. In most of November and December, I only had five students in my sophomore drama class.
“Have you guys seen this show called Stranger Things? No? Cool. We’re going to do some scene studies.”
They were supposed to recap each episode in their own words, but failed to complete the assignment. I wrote in some marks for them anyway because they were quiet and not bothering me.
With my smartest students we were supposed to be reading and discussing A Streetcar Named Desire. The male students had military training and missed most of the classes anyway so the rest of us would order copious amounts of KFC and watch movies that received Academy recognition. It was the beer and the KFC that made me look pregnant. KFC in Thailand is a thousand times better than the American equivalent because there were these things called Wingz Zabb. They were tiny spicy wings coated in chili powder and MSG addictive enough to make you order them four times a week. KFC in Thailand also delivers. I was always bad at communicating with the drivers in Thai so I made my English proficient student tell them our location. Ordering KFC for even the most insignificant events was my unique teaching style.
In the end I only lasted a year. If I wanted to extend my contract, I don’t think they would’ve allowed me. In February of 2017 when I only had a few weeks left, each girl in the senior graduating class gave me a rose and cried in my lap. They cried either because they loved class with me or because they were sad we couldn’t dance any longer on the party street (seeing 18 year-old students on the party street was a recurring event). I told them not to cry because I wasn’t a very good teacher and to cry about leaving me was a waste of their time. They sobbed anyway and I comforted them, because despite all the failures and mistakes I made, there must have been at least one day maybe even one hour, where I got it right.