A smiling cashier, returning my change at KFC last month
It happened again a couple of weeks ago. The elevator stopped as I was heading down to the ground floor, and two uniformed workers from the serviced apartment I was staying in got on, talking to each other. One was in his late 20s, the other in his later 40s. The doors closed, and it was quiet for a few seconds before I heard one of of them speaking in Thai in a low tone to the other. A sentence or two passed between them, and then I caught it: the younger one of them said "KFC," glancing in my direction. The older one tried to suppress a smile, but failed. He, too, said something also containing the same "KFC". They both put their hands over their smiles, trying to be polite.
I looked directly at them and smiled, pointing at my longer than usual, untrimmed white goatee and said "KFC", and both of them just lost it, trying not to laugh but losing the battle and laughing out loud in agreement.
Now, the first time this happened - a handful of years ago - I was at a mall in Udonthani and I happened to walk past the Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet there, which featured a six foot tall statue of founder Harland Sanders just outside the entrance, holding a bucket of chicken in his hands.
I didn't make the connection at the moment myself, but a small child - maybe 8 or 9 years old - pointed at the statue next to me, then me, and said "Mae! Mae! KFC! KFC!" and I turned to see my reflection in the window. My beard wasn't white at that point, but it was somewhat reminiscent of the one on the replica of the old fart next to me, and I laughed. It's a story I've told many times since, although it's only happened again a couple more times over the years. Since then I've avoided wearing white suits and absurdly long bow ties while visiting Thailand - and always kept the beard very short, if I've sported it at all - but here I was again last month - sharing a laugh with two Thai.
Having a modicum of respect for my health I eat at KFC maybe twice a year, if that, but that afternoon I walked into one just to see how many of the staff (who are surrounded by the image every shift) would make the connection. About half of them did. The cashier above was smiling because I'd pointed at the beard and said "KFC".
Thankfully I honestly don't look nearly as old as the Colonel does... yet... but I may re-think the beard thing before the next trip.