At one point, while living in Thailand nearly 20 years ago, I decided I needed to start writing some poetry. I’m not sure if it was because I was was living in a one-room apartment with no phone, television or computer to distract me, or if it was because I was drinking a lot of malt liquor and reading Bukowski. In any case, for two straight weeks I churned out clumsy prose like a madman. I never again tried to write poetry, and that is just fine by me. Here are a few unedited leftovers from that time. Your mileage may vary.
The Noodle Girl
The old, fat, convicted child molester teacher sat down across from me at a roadside noodle house.
“You know, Geoff,” he said. “Every time I make a date with these Thai girls I always get stood up.”
“Well, that’s the Thais for ya.” I said.
The noodle girl waited for him to order. He ordered in English. She looked at me. I translated.
“You know Geoff, whenever they wash my clothes they always lose my slacks. I tell ’em: HOW AM I GONNA TEACH ENGLISH IF I DON’T HAVE ANY SLACKS?”
“Well, that’s the Thais for ya.” I said.
The old, fat, convicted child molester teacher lit a cigarette and shook his head. I couldn’t quite understand what he was doing here. Teaching english to small children. He collected his styrofoam noodle containers and left. I finished my beer.
Two months later the old, fat, convicted child molester teacher married the noodle girl.
Well, that’s the Thais for ya.
Cause and Effect
The english teacher from California called us snobs because we didn’t hang out with the other foreigners. Then he talked some bullshit beer philosophy.
“Can there be effect without cause?” He pondered.
We yawned, paid our bill and went bowling. Verbal trickery and drunken paradox don’t hold a candle to a good game of ten pin.
We had walked for almost an hour and we finally saw lights ahead. And a big Coke sign. Whenever we saw a Coke sign we knew civilization was close at hand. Restaurants began to appear, bars, things were looking up. This one bar we passed had a girl in a pink miniskirt singing songs inside a giant fishbowl with little plastic fish hanging from string. We took a turn down a dark alley and came out on another street.
“OH SHIT!” I yelled.
“What?” Dave said.
“Oh my god, you’re right. Cows!” The road was full of cows. Drivers were slamming on their breaks trying to avoid smashing into the cows. We needed to get across that street. Dave started walking.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“Crossing the street.”
“But the cows!”
"What? They don’t charge do they?”
“I don’t know? They got horns!”
We made it across. Sat down. Ordered a bottle of Mekong.
It was one of those wacky Thai holidays where everyone throws bombs at each other. A group of about 15 guys sat in a circle across the street from me and passed around a bottle of Mekong. They seemed nice enough.
They threw a bomb at me.
It exploded under a car. Jim ran out of the bar and asked what was happening. I told her the guys across the street threw a bomb at me. She yelled at them in Thai. I assumed she told them not to throw any more bombs at the farang. I couldn’t really blame them. I’m a big white guy in Thailand on a bomb-throwing holiday. What did I expect?
They laughed at Jim and threw another bomb.
This bomb rolled into the street in front of Jim’s bar and exploded. Ong came out this time and gave them a stare only a former gangster turned humble, beer swilling artist can give.
His face was all twisted and mean.
He got on the phone. Made a call. Then disappeared behind the bar and came back with a hatchet.
I ordered a beer.
Soon the gangsters showed up. They rode Harleys. I knew them all. We had shared beers before. But now they seemed different. Menacing.
They ordered beers and started loading their 9mm clips with tiny bullets. I took a long drink of beer and started to sweat. I looked outside and the guys across the street were pacing back and forth and yelling at each other. One guy had a samurai sword.(!)
I sat in the corner and watched my lovable Thai friends transform themselves into axe-wielding hooligans. They laughed quietly and drank several more beers each. Then, they all stood up and turned to go outside. Here comes the killing.
Before I could panic and run out the back door and into the Chao Phraya River, the cops showed up. The cops and the gangsters all had a good laugh together. They were obviously pals. The guys from across the street were rounded up and sent off to jail.
I caught a tuk tuk home and sat down and drank two large bottles of malt liquor.