“But wait– It’s not June!” “You always make references about Thais doing Christmas lessons and displaying Christmas paraphernalia in July… is this a similar occurrence?” “Wait wait wait… I know this one… Ohhhh Thailand. Right?!”
These are all things you may be thinking to yourself at my having a Father’s Day entry in December, but the fact is that Thais simply have a different Father’s Day. And just as Mother’s Day in Thailand falls on the Queen’s birthday, so did Father’s Day this year mark King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX’s 84th birthday. He’s a big deal in these parts. Not only is he the world’s current longest-serving head of state, he’s the longest reigning monarch in Thai history. (That should be in quotes, as I took it directly from Wiki after checking the spelling of his name.) His status is that of a near-deity in this country, and you can’t walk into any house, school, restaurant, or even down the street without encountering larger-than-life images of him and Queen Sirikrit. Any Thai person you meet will tell you, “Everyone love the King!”, and though we do happen to know there’s jail-time at stake for any remarks made against him, it does seem that people genuinely think he’s done many good things for the people of their country.
Unfortunately, he’s been ill for some time now, and between you and me I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibilities that Wayne and I took part in King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s last birthday celebrations. (Upon rereading I feel it’s really worth stating that I don’t say that in any kind of capricious way, and that whether they were the ultimate, or penultimate, or 16th-to-ultimate-because-he’s-going-to-live-to-be-100 celebrations, it was an honor and a great experience for me to be able to participate.) And it seems that the common sentiment towards his only son and heir is not quite as glowing, so it’s possible there may be a dramatic shift in the culture of the Thai monarchy in the not-so-distant future. Though far be it from me to take on the morbid task of compiling a Celeb Deathwatch (um, let’s just say that site’s not not not G-rated) list. Sidenote: the fact that I just noticed Fidel Castro’s on it reminds me of that time I was 18 working at Uno Chicago Grill and saw a headline on one of our muted TVs that read, “CUBA AFTER CASTRO.” So naturally, in order to make smalltalk with my tables, I started telling all my customers that Fidel Castro was dead, only to find out after the fact that it was just a hypothetical “news” story. Whoops.
Okay so that might have just got a bit weird, roll pics.