You could hear the titters resounding around the globe this week after the latest scandal at Suvarnabhumi airport pushed us reluctantly into the international spotlight again.
Security at our airport was called into question when a man was arrested at New Delhi airport with a primate down his pants.
Primate Down My Pants _ that could almost be the name of a new Kanye West or Jay-Z song, couldn't it?
Yo! Gotta primate down my pants! Shawty see me swagger and dance! Ain't lookin' for no romance Dat's just a primate down my pants!
How juvenile to make light of such a serious situation, Andrew. Besides being a security threat it was a clear example of cruelty to animals. In this case it was a slow loris _ not the usual fare we men put down our pants, like a sock or a cucumber from Tops Supermarket.
After last week's column I made a promise to put a lid on my distaste for our international airport, not just because it was a cheap shot or that ''flogging-a-dead-horse'' is my middle, albeit way too long, middle name.
I just figured despite my constant criticism, one single concrete edifice can't be completely rotten. Also, there are thousands of decent Thais in there going about their daily work lives, so I decided to put a moratorium on my criticism.
Look what happened not 24 hours later.
A man was arrested with a slow loris while trying to board a connecting flight to Dubai. Officials found the offending animal stuffed down in his underwear.
And where had he just flown from? Lights ... camera ... action ... Suvarnabhumi airport!
He was arrested last Monday in New Delhi. That means sometime last Sunday he arrived at Suvarnabhumi airport with a little monkey tucked away in his nether regions.
He checked in then went through customs. He probably had to take off his watch and belt and shoes as he walked through the scanners.
Maybe he beeped. If he did, a friendly official ran that baton over him, including his nether regions, and let him pass. That official didn't think to ask: ''Is that a slow loris, or are you just pleased to see me?''
Imagine him walking the two _ or is it three? _ kilometre trek down to his departure gate. Left, right, left, right, swish, swish, slow loris in the underwear. Once there, he boarded and the man settled into his seat, watching as the flight attendant explained the keen intricacies of opening and closing a belt buckle for those morons on board.
I know a little about slow loris, thanks to an amazing lady by the name of Leonie Vejjajiva who used to keep them in her inner-city Sukhumvit home up until 10 years ago.
''They really are very slow, see?'' Leonie showed me once as she put on a pair of thick rubber gloves. The primate with the great big eyes was truly cute, and truly slow. I did question Leonie as to the need for gloves.
''When picking them up or feeding them, you need to wear them,'' she said. ''They are prone to biting you. And their teeth are sharp.''
And you're gonna shove one of those down your Y-fronts?
I don't know the going price for slow loris on the international black market, but I tell you what; whatever the figure it ain't gonna entice me to thrust one down there. One man at Indira Gandhi International airport, along with two accomplices, thought otherwise.
They were identified as Hamad al-Dhaheri, Mohammed al-Shamsi and Rashid al-Shamsi, three men willing to shove a primate with teeth sharp as razors down near their reproductive organs. They make those fire-walking, swords-through-the-cheek shamans at Phuket's vegetarian festival look like pansies.
Apparently this is not the first time men have been caught with writhing crotches. Customs officials recently caught an Indian man at Mumbai's main airport with 10 turtles in his underwear _ what kind of bulge does that create? I bet you he got free gin and tonics on the plane.
This type of news story elicits the same reaction in male readers as any story that has to do with penis severance, eunuchs, or accidents where a baseball slams into a player's crotch. We cross our legs while adrenaline shoots through out veins, and quickly turn the newspaper page for the funnies.
It's a guy thing, ladies. And don't think the media doesn't know it.
Every news agency was quick to point out the length of that primate. Some said it was 16cm long, others said it was 17cm. The media is predominantly male, and thus very comfortable in exaggerating the length of such things.
I had to google 17cm to find out how long it is in inches, not because I am a size freak, but because I am a victim, as the Americans say. I had a full two years' schooling in the imperial system before Australia turned metric. The ensuing confusion surely qualifies me as a victim and entitles me to some kind of government payout.
''Forget all those weights and measures we taught you over the last two years,'' my teacher said, and remember, when you are seven years old, two years is a helluva long time. ''We're now going to learn a new system.''
As a result I am fluent in kilometres but hopeless in centimetres; comfortable with Celsius but unfamiliar with grams.
It turns out that 17cm is 6.7 inches long, a length not unfamiliar though perhaps a little generous in the eyes of the average Australian male.
Appendages aside, once again we have to question the security measures at our international airport.
I am at Suvarnabhumi every other week and when I pull up in my stately vehicle, I am greeted by two security men who ask me to open the boot of my car.
(That's a trunk for my American readers. Don't laugh because we call it a boot; where do you guys get off calling it after an elephant's appendage?)
These guys run their state of the art mirrors on sticks under my car with meticulous scrutiny, while I remind myself to strap the TNT on the roof of my vehicle if ever I wanted to commit a heinous terrorist attack.
I see we have changed tack recently on our marketing of our international airport. We are now the ''Airport of Smiles''.
Did you see my eyes roll just then? I don't want an Airport of Smiles. I want an Airport of Strict Security Measures, ensuring terrorists and slow loris are quickly identified and detained.
That moniker is yet to stick. Just last month I drove into Suvarnabhumi. The two security men were there, their mirrors on sticks nearby. But were they using them?
How could they? One guard was texting on his phone while the other was asleep. I took a photo to prove it.
With such security measures in place, it's only a matter of time before somebody fronts up with a weapon of mass destruction in his underwear with a fake John Holmes passport.
That, dear reader, will wipe the smile off our airport and will bite us more painfully than any sharp teeth of a slow loris.
About the author
- Writer: Andrew Biggs