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From Denver, With Love

For American men tired of American women, Richard Beals knows how to Thai the knot.

As Yuvaree hands out the presents to the kids, Sammy gazes at her. She's never been someone's first choice before. She's never even considered herself a serious candidate. Yuvaree has seen Thai women fall fast for men on Richard's tours, but she doesn't understand how they can move so quickly. She says she wants to take things slowly.

Yuvaree once spent almost a year in Vermont with an American family. She dreams of having a similar family of her own one day. "Love me, this is very important," she says. "Not only need something, love me. I want to be the last woman in his life, not the next, not the first or the second or the third. I want to be the last."

Sammy and Yuvaree go to dinner and the mall that night. They talk and hold hands.

"I like her, her only," Sammy says.


That evening, everyone's hooked up except Scooby.

In walks Kid, a rice farmer who smiles a lot. It's okay with Scooby that she speaks no English, but she has a two-year-old girl and a fifteen-year-old boy, and Scooby knows he doesn't want to raise any more children. "So he goes upstairs, and I can see he's kind of depressed," Richard says.

So Richard asks Kid if she's open to leaving her children in Thailand with their grandmother. Kid says yes. And Scooby, who was considering cutting his trip short, comes back downstairs with a smile on his face.

But there's a new problem: Three gold diggers have shown up, in the company of a woman whom Richard and Seow like very much, as well as the woman's husband -- a man who'd been on one of Richard's tours and now looks ten years younger. Rudeness isn't an option, so Richard keeps an eye on the gold diggers.

Kung arrives, and Lee starts bouncing up and down, again disregarding Seow's advice.

A nineteen-year-old walks in with her mother, father and aunt, who want to play a role in any match. Greg takes a liking to the girl and shows her his photos, while Aoy waits patiently in the background.

Richard tells Greg that judging from how close she stays to her mother, the girl is probably a virgin. He guesses that the family will want a $10,000 dowry, and Greg frets about having to take out another loan. Richard advises Greg to stay in touch with the family if he's serious about the girl, calling every couple of days. "You can make it work with this family, because they're looking for a provider," he says.

"So if this does work out, I could probably take her for a pretty low price?" Greg asks.

"Maybe $5,000, hopefully, but you don't pay her until after she comes to the U.S.," Richard warns. "And don't fuck this up."

About fifteen women show up this night, including one who claims to be eighteen but looks younger. With Greg momentarily on the loose again, she says she's ready to go up to his room -- if he'll have her.

Greg's eyes glaze over in what Richard refers to as the "college-quarterback syndrome," referring to an abundance of choices. Richard tells Greg to go to his room while he checks the girl's age. She was born in November 1988, so she's seventeen -- old enough to get married in Thailand with a parent's permission. But not old enough to get a U.S. fiancée visa.

Richard calls up to Greg's room and breaks the news.

Greg comes downstairs and tells Richard that he's screwing up by going after these young girls. He's got a good thing with Aoy, he says, and shouldn't let that slip away. Fortunately, Aoy is still in the lobby. She understands that Greg needs to explore his options, and says she's lucky that he's considering her at all.

Greg grabs Aoy by the hand, and the two get in the elevator. Richard has the interpreter explain to the seventeen-year-old that she can be on the tour next year.

She sits on the couch, slowly turning the pages of Greg's photo album. She studies the photos of his life in Ohio, of his sons, of NASCAR races, of bears rummaging through dumpsters, of Gatlinburg.

"Lost in a dream," Richard says.

The lights in the lobby shut off.


It's now the sixth day of the marriage tour, and everyone catches up at breakfast.

Lee had a rough night. He burned his mouth on some KFC hot wings and went to bed -- which gave him plenty of time to think. He's decided to propose marriage to Kung. She's already told her eighteen-year-old son about him and that they're in love. This will be his second proposal of the week.

Ben was sick last night, too, and Boom played nurse all night long. That's something his kickboxer of an ex-wife never did. "We just showing our love," Seow explains. "She wants him to see."

Boom can relate to Ben's rocky marriage. Her husband left one day and never came back. She's been working as a 7-Eleven manager six days a week, twelve hours a day, to keep her family in their middle-class home. Ben is considering marrying Boom.

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