Why am I here?
One day, much like every other day, I woke from an early morning nap on the couch up-country. I find I sleep at the drop of a hat, or a bit after the drop of a skirt, when in the village house. Things can be tiring there. What with my jobs of taxi driver; falang-fare cook, house painter, bartender, furniture mover, bicycle repair man, bank teller, bug and rodent exterminator, soccer coach, English teacher, television technician, father of many who aren't biologically my own (All the kids there call me Papa, which can be a bit disconcerting.), husband, lover, and beer taster, my times are very taxing in the village, and I need some extra rest every so often. Plus it's hotter than hell, and I'm sometimes fighting off the effects of my beer tester and taster employment.
This one morning my lady woke me with her beautiful nagging voice, "Honey, you sleep? Darling, wake up!"
For some reason I can never really get pissed off at her. Must be love, I guess.
"What Wife? What you want?" I say to her, wiping my eyes, and reaching for a perspiring plastic bottle of water.
"My sisters and friends want to see you. Want to drink some beer with you. Come see them!" she exclaims, pulling on my hand until I sit up on the couch.
"What? Again!" I moan.
Such a chore these village drinking bouts are.
I shoo her away, promising to come next door to see her lady friends and relatives after I grab a quick, refreshing, ice-freaking-cold ladle shower. She grins and laughs, and runs off, after securing my promise to be quick. "Frigging woman'll be the death of me yet." I grumble to myself in my still sleep addled excuse for a brain. "What the heck time is it?" I think, and glance toward the clock on the VCR. 10 a.m.! Shit, the lushes are starting early today. I hope the beers are at least semi chilled today. Warm beer Chang just doesn't sit well with my Thai breakfast of noodles and squid and peppers. Damn, I feel sick just thinking of this.
I take my ladle shower, scooped from a large plastic trash can bought new expressly for this purpose, screaming like a little girl once the cold water first splashes on my naked, steaming hot and sweating body. Damn! How the hell can that water get so cold when it's like 90 or more freaking degrees outside all freaking day, and night too. I actually shiver. I ponder this, and other anomalies of living in Thailand, as I soap myself clean.
I ponder and ask myself for the umpteenth time a question that still bothers me to this day. I wonder where the hell the Thai baht bus taxi drivers got that ugly laminated paneling shit they use for the inside of the roofs, in the back where customers ride, of seemingly 90% of the baht buses in Pattaya. You know the stuff I'm talking about? You would if you had ever been there, because it is so odd to see. It's the ceiling laminate of the New England farm house and barn, in fields of snow. Where did they get this stuff anyway? Why did they choose to use this stuff on almost every baht bus? How much does it cost? Can I get enough to panel my village bathroom in this soothingly chilly scene? Does Ripley's know about this? I wonder. Would they believe it? It's doubtful, but this is Thailand after all.
I douse myself fully with some more chilly water of a doubtful cleanliness and rinse off the shampoo, trying not to get said doubtfully clean water in my ears. I've had at least three ear infections since starting to stay in my lady's village. I've never before had an ear infection my whole life since I was a baby. It's always the left ear for some strange reason. I'm thinking of buying ear plugs like some people wear to swim. I wonder if they sell these in Thailand.
One of the ugly tables and benches
I actually bought.
I finish my shower and lightly towel off the moisture. Might as well let evaporation cool me down for awhile. I jump into a tank top shirt and a pair of shorts. Screw it, this ain't Bangkok, there's no need to dress up or dress to impress. My Dockers shorts are probably worth more than the combined total of the clothing in half the village. Slipping on my Teva leather sandals outside the door I amble over to Sis Mun's gossip and Lao Khao shack next door.
Sis Mun's Lao Khao Emporium and Gossip Shop
Are these crappy, flimsy and cheap plastic stools made by just one company? Are there many competing companies around the country making these things? If so, why? Do they come in any other colors besides blue and red? Will it support my big falang ass for an extended period of time? Could I start a plastic chair company and make a better stool, with a back and arms to it?
Are these stools the reason my back hurts now all the time? I wonder.
I spread my "Chok dee krups" (good luck, cheers) about liberally and sip my drink. It's strong, like I like it, but it isn't even noon yet. In between rice planting and rice picking seasons there isn't much else to do up in the village really. A lot of drinking and card playing goes down between the seasons, plus the booze helps one sleep through the hottest part of the day if one wishes to grab a siesta. I slip my 4,000 baht Vaurnier sunglasses down over my eyes, and my eyes thank me, as the sun beats down relentlessly on my seat of honor, placed, for some reason I can't quite fathom, outside the shade of the rusting tin roof, in the blazing sunlight. Is this a test of some sort? Am I being dissed? Have I brought them to believe I actually want to fry my ass off in the hot sun all the time? Have they no concept of 'tanning' what-so-ever?
I glance down at the dirty, red, dusty ground between my legs. There on the dirt, directly between my feet, is the rotting carcass of a small rat. I watch the ever present ants feeding and marching about with their minuscule rat bits of treasure and feel my gorge rise. Damn. I wash my gorge back down with a healthy swig of my Black and Coke, and move my wonderfully comfortable plastic throne to a place in the shade, under some nearby trees and bushes, where I may be at less risk of contracting some strange and horrible tropical disease. Do Thai's own rakes? Does anyone else even notice the dead rat here? I know they don't have rat traps in the stores. I've searched high and low here, and never found a one. I had to bring some all the way from the states on one trip over.
The very same pig!
How much would an apartment in Surin cost me? Why didn't Buddha write about sanitation, as the god of the Jews did? Or did he? I've never found much in English to read about his full teachings and sayings, at least any that didn't sound mostly like "Confucius say ..." Did Buddha live in a village like this once he swore off his riches and left his Prince-ship behind? I think I read somewhere where Buddha was a rich guy once. Did his father the king own a plastic stool producing factory? Well maybe a wooden or bamboo stool factory anyways? How long will I have to sit here drinking whiskey before I can go back and grab another nap? Can I talk my lady into a "nooner" while here in the village? I look over at her to see what she's drinking. Hmmm. Wine cooler. Spy brand it is.
I'm gonna have to get her drinking the Black today. Whiskey makes her a bit randy, or is it brandy that makes her randy? I forget now. Too much to drink I imagine. I need another nap.
I sit in the shade, and continue drinking and pondering. It's what I do best, really.
(The Central Scrutinizer)
Written in the year 2000. All rights reserved by the author.