First impressions - are lasting

Here is an extract from a blog in which two Americans are traveling in Thailand. They happen to meet Jack Sterling on Thanksgiving Day, 2006. Jack Sterling is embarrassing to his fellow Americans, not just the Thai people.

The Animal Kingdom

Our first stop was Chiang Mai, where I promptly blew out my flip flop (no, not from a "pop-top"). Chiang Mai was not really a destination for Vanya and I, but more a stop-over to arrange transportation south, toward the beaches and islands. We arrived approximately 3-4 hours after all of you Americans had just finished eating Thanksgiving Dinner and, amazingly, Vanya and I found a western-style restaurant serving traditional, Thanksgiving Dinners. I finished dinner with two pieces of pumpkin pie, and was promptly put into a food coma. It was during this dinner that we met a guy named Jack.

Jack is a gruff, heavy-set, late 50's-something American guy. We met him because Vanya complimented him on his t-shirt, a Harley Davidson logo entirely in Japanese. This guy was as American as our Thanksgiving dinner, and loud. He talked to Vanya and I throughout the whole dinner, talked and talked and talked, continually explaining to us how he had "lived life." While traveling I try to be as inconspicuous as possible, a "good" traveler, I guess, and here Jack Sterling would yell across the restaurant, repeat whatever he had said loudly whenever he was not at first understood, and continually critique the food as being "microwaved." I felt guilty by association, but he was also a really nice guy. He explained that he had rolled with John Lennon back when, knew Sylvester Stallone, and so on. He had gone to Vietnam and had "come out with two holes in my body," never to go back to the United States. He now breeds Thai Ridgeback dogs, and has 81 of them at his home. After dinner, he showed us around town in his Ford pickup truck, and we rode in the bed.

He was an extreme example, but Vanya and I have met a decent number of "Jack's" in southeast Asia. I would characterize them as this: they are usually older men; they have a southeast asian girlfriend/wife; most are retired; they are irreverent; they have an old-fashioned attitude about women, girlfriends, prostitutes; they are burnt out; they have been away from the U.S. for a long time; they want someone to talk to, especially Americans. This is a broad generalization, obviously. But I have seen a lot of these guys wandering around s.e. Asia