twelfth round of lamvong had just ended and Phaengkham hadnt danced even
once. Now the thirteenth was starting and
everyone was having a good time.
She sat on a bench next to the
band and its loud music. She was the only girl who was still sitting alone because no man had offered her a garland.2 So she sat and
listened to the obnoxious songs sung by the long-haired,
bell-bottomed singer on the bandstand. She didnt listen to the songs with delight or
interest, she just listened. The noise penetrated her ears whether she
enjoyed it or not. She listened because she had no choice. She
listened because there was nothing else to do. She listened to pass the time and to hide the embarrassment of being left alone at a public dance.
She sat there almost without moving, staring
at the players in the band without even blinking an eye.
Once in a long while she glanced with envy and
frustration at her friends on the dance floor.
Over there . . . Laddapone was
leading. Laddapone smiled constantly and a little snobbishly, maybe because she was a beautiful girl and had been chosen to
present a garland to the "sponsor" for this round. The
sponsor was usually a rich man of high status, or sometimes the representative of a
company, who paid for a round of dancing. This person could select a girl
to present him with bunches of garlands. She was called the
"owner of the garlands." Before each round of dance, the chosen girl was asked to stand in the middle of the floor and offer garlands to the sponsor,
who would distribute them among his friends. Each friend then took a
garland to the young woman with whom he wished to dance.
Following Laddapone was Sohnnapa,
another beauty who had been designated as the next "owner of the garlands." She had danced every round since the night began. The most graceful person and the focus of all male
eyes, both young and old, was Farvichit. .................