Thailand: where the double dip is encouraged

“Did you just double dip that chip?”
“Excuse me?”
“You double dipped the chip!”
“’Double dipped?’  What are you talking about?”
“You dipped the chip.  You took a bite.  And you dipped again.”
“So?”
“That’s like putting your whole mouth right in the dip.  From now on when you take a chip – just take one dip and end it!” – a conversation between a partygoer and George Costanza on Seinfeld.

Every day’s an adventure living in a country that looks down upon those who kiss in public, yet that’s pretty much what every man does amongst drinking buddies.  I’m not sure if Thai people know what a germ is the way they share them with no shame.  If they do, they don’t care.  This is another adjustment I’ve made since coming to Thailand – getting over my fear of germs.

It was never a large fear, but I sometimes worried every time someone would ask to try my beer or when I used a doorknob in a skuzzy Wisconsin bar bathroom.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more germ-conscious.

That germ-consciousness has now been thrown out like the Marcy’s Playground album from your CD collection.  Yes, I’m still washing my hands at vital times, but I’ve stopped worrying about sharing a glass of beer with peers.  I have to.

At every home I’ve been to in Thailand, guests are served a plate of rice and there are various dishes at the center of the table (or floor) to put on top of your rice.  Guests take only what you need for the next few minutes.  This isn’t Old Country Buffet – take only what you need.  You use your spoon to do this as does everyone else.  There’s no sanitizing that spoon between scoops – you’re sharing germs.

Just the other night I was sitting on a mat in a yard with a group of men who were drinking beer and whiskey.  I was given a glass of beer with ice (very common in the heat.)  After drinking half of it, I realized it was the only glass the eight of them were using and I quickly passed it on.  The same went for the whiskey.  One person would pour a shot and pass it on.

You have to use your best judgement when sharing a glass with men in a country with no toilet paper.

I’ve been doing this since January.  I’ve been sick a few times, but nothing too major – each time can be attributed to dehydration and malnutrition.  I have gained no diseases or cold sores since I began this germ sharing.

I have a friend in the states who used to be extremely afraid of sharing germs – so much to the point where he rarely ate at a restaurant.  If he still had this issue and came to Thailand he would likely implode after my host mother picked off a piece of chicken with her fingers, blew off the ants from the plate and the put it on his plate.

There’s a famous scene in Seinfeld where George “double dips” his chip at a party and is caught in the act.  He is chastised for it at the benefit of the viewers.  A Thai person would not understand this joke.  It would not be funny, just another day.

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