25 years ago my grandfather gave me the book “Clothes and the Man: The Principles of Fine Men’s Dress” by Alan Flusser. My grandfather drove a big black Lincoln Town Car with suicide doors, wore wool pants, dress shoes, a collared shirt and vest each day and used a pocket watch with fob. I never asked him, but I’m confident he didn’t know the word ‘tank top’, he would have called it a sleeveless undershirt.
Many days I find myself thinking of my grandfather as my least favorite male Homosapien- the farang on holiday (FOH)- boards the BTS Skytrain. The farang on holiday is generally clad in a tank top sporting the logo of a local beer brand, baggy shorts with at least fourteen pockets and flip flops; FOH like to travel in packs of 3-5 and do not modify their behavior according to their environment.
The tank top wearing FOH has one move that is especially toe curling, especially mouth watering as I feel I might puke and that inspires thoughts of a mass apology to all riders in the Skytrain car: sweating and in tank top, he reaches for the overhead handle to hold, shoving his armpit in an unsuspecting Thai’s face, the recipient seems to almost always be an innocent looking female commuter.
While Thais are very comfortable in close spaces and proximities, they are not comfortable with an armpit in their face. In general, Thais don’t wear tank tops.
My response to seeing the ‘armpit in the unsuspecting face’ multiple times is my typical OCD styled response: to ensure I don’t make this mistake I wear an *undershirt* and long sleeve shirt and if I do reach for the overhead handle, I cover my armpit with my ‘off’ hand.
A big thank you to the farang on holiday for the general rude, self-serving behavior, we know it’s your holiday and we’re just riding the Skytrain in it. Oh, the thank you to the farang on holiday is for adding yet another item to my OCD list.