When I was a child, I used to love watching pro-wrestling. At school on a Monday morning we would talk about what we had seen on the previous Saturday afternoon. Who had hit whom with a chair. What vendettas had progressed. How amazing the high-flying moves looked. And then come break time, we would run around trying to clothesline each other in the playground. I once suplexed Simon Ellis and he had an asthma attack and had to go home.
My friends were all into WCW but for me there was only one organisation that, to my ill-informed eyes at least, got it right.
That was the WWF.
Before the name change. Before women wearing almost no clothes. Before 17-way suspended ladder cage matches in which everything, including the audience, is on fire.
This was a simpler time. A time of two men pretending to hurt each other for up to fifteen minutes. The time of Hulk Hogan. Of Brett The Hitman Heart. Of Rowdy Roddy Piper.
And there was one wrestler that encapsulated the hyperbole and pomp of the spectacle.
Lex “The Narcissist” Luger.
I remember thinking how much effort must have gone into building all those muscles. How he used to walk into the ring with a mirror and check himself out before the fight. Even at that young age I knew that this idolisation of the self was too much.
What must it take to make someone become so obsessed with their image?
Apparently for infants very little.
I say this because the boy has become utterly fixated on anything that will reflect his image back to him. This includes mirrors, car body work, windows, sun glasses lenses, the tiled floor of the kitchen and most recently, the television when it is off.
Honestly, there is little that compares in terms of fear to watching him catch a glimpse of himself in the darkened flatscreen and then charge towards it like a rugby player galloping towards the try line.
I dread to think what would happen if he brought that thing down on him. I’d probably have to take him to hospital as well.
Now, I know that it is normal for babies to find their reflection fascinating, it is part of the development process; them finding out about who they are and their place in the world.
But nowhere in any of the books does it say that this exploration of the self would be accompanied by a catalogue model pose which involves a head cocked to the side and a coy smile. He genuinely looks like he should be advertising for Baby GAP.
But it doesn’t stop there. The other day I was keeping my hawk-like eyes upon him and also checking the news on my phone. I read a worrying story about a suspected rapist who had skipped bail from the US ten years ago and was arrested in our compound.
Feeling a little shocked at the proximity to us of this story, I looked up to see the boy with his face pressed up against the full-length mirror of the wardrobe in his nursery. What disturbed me more than to hear of suspected rapists being brought to justice round the corner from our house was seeing his tongue lolling about and covering the glass with his saliva.
He was, in effect, snogging himself.
I stopped him and, whilst he wouldn’t understand, I explained that he needed to wait until puberty to do that.
All in all, a worrying trend. There is however, some small modicum of comfort. At least I think I can pinpoint where his narcissistic tendencies have come from.
Clearly, being the only farang baby on the mooban has led to him developing something of a diva complex.
We take him out for a walk every afternoon, primarily to keep the rickets away, and more often than not, we will be surrounded by a chattering of middle-aged Thai ladies desperate to hold the white baby.
And when I say desperate, I mean desperate.
Usually, within ten seconds of them spotting him he is whisked away from us and carried triumphantly aloft down the road. The shouts of ‘na lak farang’ or ‘cute foreigner’ can be heard for miles around. He smiles beatifically like he’s the sodding messiah and has just cured a leper.
Once, and I swear this is true, one of the ladies wiped our boy on her daughter.
I suspect that it is for one of two reasons.
Either, she is trying to rub off some of his whiteness onto her daughter because white skin is considered to be very attractive in this part of Asia. People go to huge lengths to be as white as us roundeyes. Which is ironic.
Or, (and I suspect this is more likely) she has made a legally binding agreement to set up an arranged marriage when both parties are over eighteen.
If it’s the latter, we may have some difficult questions for the Thai embassy in London as and when we return home.
The upshot is that every stroll around the mooban has the effect of becoming a pastiche of what must happen when Michael Buble visits an elderly persons’ home.
The boy’s ego just does what it was designed to do and inflates. Currently it’s the size of Chiang Mai.
I foresee a time in the future when we have to take out all of the lions from the animal-shaped baby rusks and genuflect.
All I can say is at least he hasn’t learnt to pull himself up to standing when in his cot. That would just make him more able to demand attention.
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