Thai Thoughts And Anecdotes Part 17
Thai Thoughts And Anecdotes 17
Rule of Three
I have a good friend who built a boat. It was a big boat and a big project that took years. He was not a professional boat builder. He was an amateur. So he would make mistakes. He would be working on some new task and would make an error. So he would have to do the task over a second time. Invariably, he would make another error that ruined the work. But the third time was always the charm. He would have learned from his first two mistakes and the third time he would get it right. After a while, this happened to him so many times that he began to see a pattern. So he stopped trying so hard on the first two attempts. The first two attempts at craftsmanship just became a pro forma for the final attempt. There is no faulting this wacky logic and I remember laughing when he told me this. The boat looked great when launched–he just had to do everything three times. He called it his Rule of Three.
In Thailand, I also seem to have a Rule of Three in my life. I can't explain it and I can't defend it; but I can't ignore it either. In my case; it does not relate to accomplishing mechanical tasks, it relates to interpersonal relationships. And the number three in the series is not the charm, it is the denouement. I have noticed that if the first date with a bargirl goes really, really well; then the second date with her goes even better! There is the beginning of a pattern here. An upwardly ascending curve of happiness. This is usually when I used to go out and buy her a gift for our third date. Our third date was going to be simply wonderful. We were going to build on our past history and emotionally invest even more in ourselves. We would sleep together like happy puppies, flow into each other like water, and laugh like children. This almost never happened. Invariably, the third date was a disappointment of relationship ending magnitude. This has happened to me so many times now that I just assume that any new relationship is heavily tipped that way. So I go 'balls-to-the-wall' on the first two dates and then I don't buy a gift for the third date. This strategy has saved me a lot of personal heartache and a lot of money. All you've ever got is what you've got. In my case, I invariably seem to be holding 'two date' cards! Fine. You've got to know when to 'hold'em' and you've got to know when to 'fold'em'. I'm learning.
We are about 11 hours into a 13 hour flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong and it occurs to me that the guy next to me has no luggage of any kind. We both boarded at Boston and he went through the line ahead of me. Normally, I don't make it a point to notate people's luggage lives but in this particular case there must not have been anything around that had hips wider than her waist. So this guy is flying from Boston to BKK–halfway around the world with no check-in luggage. Then it occurs to me (I am really bored) that I haven't seen him getting up and down like everyone else and pawing through the carry-on luggage in the overhead bin. Looking around his feet (I am terminally bored) I notice no fanny pack, no day pack, no big purse or bag, no laptop, no shopping bags, no briefcase. Nothing. Nada. Goosegg. Niet. Bupkus. Zero. Prisoners being transferred have more luggage than this! Babies have way more luggage than this. Japanese college girls returning to Tokyo have bags and bags and bags and bags and stuffed animals and little backpacks and duty free items in shopping bags and purses and cell phones and laptop computers and gifts from the gift shop. And the Chinese have overhead luggage so heavy that the pilots have to madly crank the ailerons to keep from crashing. So I ask him. He and I have been chatting amiably. And he tells me that he does not travel to Thailand with luggage anymore. He says he had a four year marriage and the divorce started between saying the vows and the church door. A lifetime of nagging and criticism and misplaced anger and mental instability piled on him by his wife in four years. The last thing his ex-wife said after the divorce, when he was helping her pack was; "And you don't even know how to pack!". So he stopped packing. Now when he goes to Thailand he just gets on the plane with his wallet and cash and credit cards and passport and airline tickets and medications. He has a taxi take him to a guesthouse in the Banglamphu section of Bangkok and then he buys everything he needs on Khao San Road. He usually tries to get into the Siam Oriental Guesthouse because it is right at the end of the road. If not he will go to the Buddy Guesthouse for old time's sake. If both are filled he will go down the ally and check into the Vientai Hotel. He says the next morning he starts on one end of Khao San Road and by the time he has reached the other end he has a backpack and a day pack and a fanny pack, pants, shirts, shorts, sandals. hat, sunglasses and block, socks and toiletries. The cost is negligible and the experience is fun. When he gets home the stuff is still new looking so he gives it away as gifts. He said he owed the heartless bitch thanks. He never felt so free in his life.
Did you ever watch squirrels in a public park? Running around like crazy. Looking half mental as they go from tree to bush to flower bed to special place. Stopping and starting. Running and jumping. Twisting and turning. Doing U-turns and retracing their routes as if they don't know what they are doing or where they are going. Doing stuff with their nuts. Well, a female researcher wondered about this in New York City. To wit: she wondered if squirrels could remember where they buried their nuts. So she got government funding, cordoned off a section of public park, made a grid square map of the territory with every rock and tree and bush and flower bed notated, and settled down to watch. She watched and took notes of the squirrels in that section of the park for a year. Every squirrel was named and every squirrels nut handling behavior was traced on paper. An aerial shot of the plot paper showed a crazy random bunch of lines from bush to tree to rock to flower bed to special places. It didn't really look like the squirrels had a plan or knew what they were doing. But they sure were busy with their nuts.
Sometimes when I am in the Nana Hotel–Soi 4–Nana Entertainment Plaza part of Bangkok, I remember what an aerial shot of that squirrel researchers plot plan looked like. As I scurry madly from the Nana to the Plaza to the Foodland to the Bus Stop to the Minimart to the Dynasty Hotel to the pharmacy to the bookstore to the Rajah hotel to the 7-11 to the camera store and to the sidewalk vendors–I imagine I look just like one of those squirrels. Doing things with my nuts!
More entertainment from the man of controversy, Dana.