Why It's Relevant: I shaved my head and bought a skateboard.
Whenever a man with lots of hair shaves his head in the movies, something awful is about to happen to that man. Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. The new soldiers in Full Metal Jacket. Edward Norton in American History X. Uh...Jake Gyllenhall in Bubble Boy. All shaved their heads...all ended up dead (?).
I was thinking about this as my many thick tufts of hair buried my barber's chihuahua puppy as my formerly wanton ringlets fell from my head and onto the paw-tread floor. The chihuahua was nipping at my toes as a flamboyantly gay Thai man carved out highway lanes of close-shaved hair into my scalp.
Trail of Tears to walk for Indian head-lice. Death march, death march, these buildings been cleared for gentrification.
I asked my students what the Thai word was for "buzz cut," to get one's hair shaved off.
"Ask for 'skinhead,'" they replied nonchalantly.
And so I did. And now I am a skinhead.
I find subtle hints, buried cryptographic suggestions of racist tribes of years past and present in everyday Thailand. I wonder, Crying of Laat 49 style, if everything is connected, if beneath all of these signs is a fascist minority-hating shadow group that operates Thai language and culture.
For example: skinhead, a common term for a haircut, no shades of offense. Neo-Nazidom.
For example: the word for thank you. Kharp Khun Khrab. KKK. How many generations away are we from simply saying Ku Klux Klan when you want to thank someone?
For example: women say "Hello" and "Goodbye" with the phrase "Suh Wat Dee Kah." Say it really fast: "Swastika."
For example: last night at the liquor store I discovered something quite disturbing. A bottle of molasses and cane sugar liquer, called Uncle Tom, manufactured by the White Spirit company of Thailand.
The Da Vinci Code. Conspiracy Theory. A Beautiful Mind. That episode of The Simpsons with the mysterious island where Homer is sent after he discovers that the flu vaccine is a hoax. This is what I feel like.
One day I will read a history book and I will be able to use a cultural-historical reference point that does not refer to the last twenty years of terrible summer movie nonsense.
But that will not stop me from investigating. The truth.