Khao Phansa—roughly, “Buddhist Lent,” also known as the Rains Retreat, a time of spiritual renewal—began yesterday.
Sara came home late from a post-workday shopping excursion with Ms. Kook, her chief mentor in all things consumerist. They went to Siam Paragon Center, where many items were “70-80 percent off.” And what did she buy? A bunch of leaded crystal balloon glasses from the Czech Republic.
“Just look at all the money I saved,” she says, with a knowing grin. Just a little one. “The original price was very high.” And she names a figure that, if you shave 80 percent off it, still leaves your average starving writer gasping for breath.
“Whoa!” I reply. “I was only talking about the half-price iMac I-will-supersede-the-human-race computer. That was all just as-if, you know?”
“Aren’t they beautiful?”
And so they are. Elegant shape, exquisite bell-like tone when you clink them. (“Clink” doesn’t really describe it.)
“Is there any money left over for some wine that might do justice to these glasses?”
“We can save up.”
“No, really. We have three months.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’ve given up drinking wine for Khao Phansa. For three months.”
Well, sure. You buy the nicest wine glasses in town—in the whole world, for all I know—and then, I guess, you merely sit around and contemplate them for three months. It’s probably some kind of Zen thing. Even if we could afford it, there’s actually no wine perfect enough for such glasses, so we instead use them as meditative vehicles to appreciate the idea of the perfect wine. Perfect.
“I also bought these panties. Eighty percent off.”
Yow. As women’s undergarments go, these are the Czech crystal balloon glasses of all panties… Wait a minute. Surely not.
“This stuff you’re giving up for Khao Phansa,” I ask, “is there anything you aren’t telling me?”