Every year condom manufacturer Durex comes out with a sex survey that titillates us for oh, a day or two, before we tsk-tsk and return to our daily lives.
Durex. Now there's a brand close to our hearts, among other vital organs.
I am old enough to remember the days when buying a condom was a little embarrassing.
One had to sidle on down to the chemist, as we call a pharmacist or drug store in Australia, and pretend to be interested in buying something innocuous like a comb or a nail file.
Once at the counter, you'd casually say: ``Oh, and a packet of condoms, too,'' to which your voice would crack nervously for a split second, betraying your profound embarrassment.
(``What size?'' a female chemist once asked me, and so mortified was I by her question I had to flee the shop, my comb and nail file scattered on the counter, not realising she was just enquiring as to if I wanted the three-pack or the economy five-pack, which happened to be on sale.)
Thank goodness for HIV and Aids. They forced us to come out of the condom closet, as government campaigns scared the entire nation into using them. Suddenly a trip to the chemist was no longer an exercise in embarrassment for the nation's teenagers, men in mid-life crises, sex workers and clergy.
Times have changed and even I don't flinch when I have to pick up a packet or two when friends ask me. Yes, dear reader, when friends ask me. I have no need to buy them for myself, but not for any reasons you may be thinking of.
Two years ago a laboratory hired me to teach their students English conversation. That laboratory tested condoms. They had all sorts of fascinating machines, such as one that tested a condom's resistance by slowly blowing it up to three times the size of my head before it popped.
To this day whenever insomnia calls you can find me lying in bed, eyes staring blankly at the darkened ceiling, wondering why the world needs condoms that must cater to such sizes.
Anyway, at the end of the course the lab was so enamoured of me they presented me with a parting gift; a box of 400 condoms which is why you won't see me buying condoms for myself for the next 80 years.
I was touched by the gift. ``I'll think about all of you every time I have sex,'' I told my beloved students, and some of the more conservative Chinese-Thai ladies coughed softly and looked away.
But back to Durex, the British condom maker. How quaint; the Brits, whose collective persona avoids anything that may remotely stimulate a sexual urge, are the leaders in world condom manufacturing.
Last Tuesday night I read a news item on my radio show concerning Durex's latest survey results. This year's survey interviewed 29,000 women from 36 countries. The topic? Female infidelity.
The little West African nation of Ghana came out on top, which must have upset Durex to no end. While being a pleasant enough country, it hardly sets the world's media on fire. If only Spanish women had been the most unfaithful, or the French.
Here in Thailand we didn't bat an eyelid either. But you should have seen our eyelids at number two.
With 62% of Ghanaian women saying they had been unfaithful to their husbands or boyfriends, Thai women were right behind with 59%. Number two with a bullet.
More than a few Thais in the media expressed their anger at this statistic. Despite Bangkok's dubious reputation abroad, Thai culture is really very conservative, especially when it comes to the dating game.
Could it be, really, deep down inside, they are the world's second biggest philanderers?
Of course they're not. And even if they are, look at Thai men!
Durex surveyed male philanderers, too. Thai guys grabbed the ball and pushed past those wimpy Ghanaian guys, romping in first. Thai men are the world's biggest philanderers, with 54% proudly telling pretty Durex survey interviewers they'd been unfaithful. They probably then asked for their phone numbers.
Again, what a letdown for Durex. We all know what Thai guys are like! It's simply not in a Thai man's genome to stay with one girl all his life. Telling a Thai man to be faithful is as effective as a government campaign telling politicians and high-level civil servants to stop being corrupt.
Asian men on the whole are the world's most promiscuous, Durex claims. Even those homely Singaporean and Hong Kong men claim to have an average of 16 sexual partners in their lifetimes, allegedly the highest in the world. Thai guys are at this moment scratching their heads and whispering: ``Only 16?''
And anyway, if you clap your hands using just one hand, it makes no noise (I'm sorry a direct translation of a Thai proverb meaning: It takes two to tango). If one sex admits to outrageous rates of infidelity, it is only logical that the other sex must admit it too _ otherwise how can you have an affair?
Even so there is still a gap between Thai women being unfaithful (59%) and Thai men (54%). The high proportion doesn't bother me; what worries me more is that 5% difference, or am I simply straying into Sapphic territory? If so I respectfully step back and make my apologies.
(Ghana is more distressing. Ghanaian guys rank nowhere up the top of the male infidelity index. Exactly who _ or what _ are all those Ghana women having affairs with?)
It is noteworthy that in this country, the alarm bells rang simply on the female statistic, not the male. The former was an issue of national shame; the latter gave Thai men tingles of pride in their straying nether regions.
I say to the Thais: relax.
I don't believe for a minute Thai women are number two in the world. I wish they really were, just to get back at their husbands and boyfriends, who do stick their noses, among other things, in way too many places they shouldn't.
I believe when confronted with a Durex survey interviewer, Thai women simply told the truth. Unlike other countries.
I can just imagine all those Spanish and French and even Australian women thinking they don't want to answer honestly. It wouldn't make them look good. So they answer: ``Oh no, Bevan's the only guy I've ever slept with _ next question?'' with a slight crack in their voice not unlike mine at the Sunnybank chemist.
And come on, Durex _ where do you get off on calling this a world survey? You surveyed a meagre 36 countries. There are 196 countries in the world. Did you survey Lichtenstein? What about those raunchy New Zealanders? Vatican City? Those three countries alone would send Thai women tumbling down to number five or six.
As for the men, you just know the Thai guys being interviewed were only showing off. Unfaithful or not, they answered yes!
Durex is happy. They're in the news again without having to spend a penny on advertising. And with all that infidelity around the globe there's never been a greater need for _ you guessed it _ condoms.
Good. Do what you feel you must, but just protect yourself. And maybe this infidelity thing isn't as bad as it's made out to be. After all, we are the Land of Smiles.
About the author
- Writer: Andrew Biggs