From listening to the bitter complaints of neglected mia nois to cuckolded husbands, there are two women who in 14 years have heard more Thai love problems than most do in a lifetime.
That’s how long “P’Aoy” and “P’Chod” have hosted Club Friday, a popular, call-in radio show for the spurned, wounded and tear-stained. They’re not calling in for professional advice – Napaporn “Aoy” Triwitwareegune and Saithip “Chod” Montrikul Na Ayudhaya don’t really offer that – but rather a sympathetic ear and emotional catharsis.
“Sawasdee ka, what exactly happened to you?” Aoy’s soothing radio voice usually greets callers, unleashing something between a hesitant trickle or venting torrents of grief.
And that grief nine times out of 10 is due to cheating – cheating husbands, wives, girlfriends, grandmas and grandpas. And with few exceptions, Aoy and Chod take the side of righteous outrage.
A woman recently called in about her husband’s habit of spending family money to buy land, launch businesses and have children with other women throughout their 22-year marriage. Now, she was finally getting a divorce.
“Not everyone has the same level of patience you do, but you finally ran out. But for anyone else listening, remember that loving yourself shouldn’t come this late,” Aoy said before offering a slice of you-go-girl encouragement. “For Feb. 14 this year, buy the biggest bouquet of flowers for yourself. Congratulate yourself for getting out of that, and how much pain it took for you to get to this point.”
In most episodes, the women listen attentively before weighing in with some soft tut-tuts and advice – much to the succor of whoever is calling in.
Highlights of the Feb. 1 episode of Club Friday.
Truth Is Stranger Than Friction
The two heard-it-alls can rattle off case after case of infidelity. The 70-year-old man who’s a serial cheat, the boyfriend who prostrates on the ground and promises never to cheat only to get right back to it.
One of the more shocking calls came from a daughter whose father was stepping out on her terminally ill mother with her mother’s younger sister. The dad periodically brought his new lover to the hospital ward. When the wife died, they hooked up at her ash-scattering ceremony.
“In my dad’s phone, she sent him stuff like, ‘I can wait for you, babe,’” said the daughter. “I told him that it was okay if he had someone new – but why so soon? And why her?”
In a video of the call, the hosts telegraph their empathy, looking visibly stressed as they cross their arms and sigh as the daughter’s voice grows increasingly pained. Their encouragement to her: Focus on caring for yourself rather than trying to stop your father.
“People who cheat think it’s just for sanook, but then feelings become involved – and you can’t put a brake on feelings,” Aoy said. “They thought it was mai pen rai, just for fun, and then they’re somehow addicted, as if they’re on drugs.”
In a 2017 talk, Aoy said 12 Thais commit suicide daily, with anguish over infidelity being a major factor.
“Cheating can create enormous depression and repressed mental health,” she said in a recent interview at their studio. “Let’s not see any more suicides from love.”
Despite the reputation for infidelity Thailand has earned, the two women don’t believe cheating is especially worse here than elsewhere.
“There are no rules and theories to love. Cheating is not measured by area or country, but by the times,” Chod said.
Although neither believe there’s a way to measure cheating, they agree that in 14 years of being Thailand’s shoulders to cry on, they’ve heard more and more stories of cheating hearts.
Whether this is due to an actual increase or more openness to discussing it, they’re also not sure. One thing they both agree on is that that technology hasn’t helped.
“It’s easier than ever to meet someone without putting your identity on the line, to start chatting with them and think that they’re better than who you have currently,” Chod said.
In one dubious sign of strides made toward equality, they agree that Thai women today are cheating in no fewer numbers.
“Now, calls are about both men and women cheating, or becoming the ‘third hand’ in another relationship,” Chod said.
The most recent episode of Club Friday featured a woman who strung along four men at the same time while her boyfriend was overseas.
“I felt like I had the right to get more options. But I didn’t break up with him yet. I admit it’s wrong,” the caller said, laughing. “It went from another guy, to two guys, to three guys!”
Chod adds smoothly, “Why does your voice sound like you’re having a lot of fun?”
“Many victims calling in are men; not just women now. There’s this, ‘If you can do it, so can I’ mentality. Women can be the harmful ones too,” Aoy said.
The two recounted one such story in which a man drove his wife to her lover’s house, hoping she would pack up her things and go back home with him (She didn’t).
Infidelity is, of course, not solely the domain of heterosexual love.
“Pain isn’t limited to a gender,” Aoy said, adding that they hear from their share of love-stricken LGBT callers. “Some men take wonderful care of their wives, but then she finds some boy that seems to just tick all her boxes.”
In another call, a woman was living with a woman who also had another girlfriend – and a boyfriend as well. She said she had to hide when the boyfriend came over, and of course the whole thing eventually ended very badly.
“I trusted her …I did her laundry, washed her undies. Then she chased me out of the house, and took back the pair of Ray-Bans she got me as a gift,” the caller said.
“I’m not really shocked by any of this,” Aoy replied. “Well, have you stopped doing all of that yet?”
Another Club Friday staple are Thai women in long-distance relationships with foreign men – while a Thai man is closer at hand.
They thought it was mai pen rai, just for fun, and then they’re somehow addicted, as if they’re on drugs
“Some women call in because they feel guilty about cheating on their foreign men,” Aoy said.
Still, the duo reiterate that not everyone is cheating or looking to cheat.
“Not everyone is cheating on someone else, but the people calling are the ones who are experiencing problems. Happy people without problems won’t call,” Aoy said.
Catch the Club Friday team on 10pm to midnight on Fridays on Greenwave 106.5, or via their Facebook page.