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Thai Thoughts And Anecdotes Part 77

  • Written by Dana
  • January 31st, 2005
  • 40 min read


Thai Thoughts And Anecdotes #77


ACCEPTANCE AND HAPPINESS AND LOVE

I'll fly away and meet God on his golden shore. Where ever that may be. What's more delicious than the final falling away? The push off. The spinning weightless fall towards a painless future. Suicide as a marker of evolution! A decision of strength and higher consciousness. All relationships pale beside me falling and God rising up to catch me in his arms. Goodbye and Hello!–IDH


PART ONE: Ship's name–SANUK Captain–DANA Destination–PATTAYA

If the farang sailor lay down on the starboard side and grasped the hot bronze turnbuckle with his left hand he could just reach over and touch the dolphins! Same on the port side. Laying his mahogany chest down on the baking hot teak and grasping the shroud with his right hand; he could just lean over with his left hand and make contact with the slippery forms. Whichever side he chose the dolphins would crowd over and crowd in and press against each other and compete for attention. He would touch them and stroke them and press against them. All the time he would be talking to them. In the low kind conspiratorial voice that we reserve for friends. Low and confident and kind and friendly and intimate. Connected. With much to lose and little to gain the dolphins had offered their friendship to the man. He had accepted and found himself ushered into a theater bigger than himself. Sometimes he would crawl down into the bow chains with a deck scrub brush and scratch their backs. They would push and shove and squeak and chirp with pleasure. Down in the chains right on top of the water his boat was removed from his vision. There was only the horizon and the sky and the water and the glistening torpedo shapes of his friends. He knew he was a part of something beyond himself but he didn't know more than that. Humans have limits! When he tired and crawled back up on deck the dolphins would flip and corkscrew and somersault and squeak with pleasure to end the game.

Sometimes during the day or the night they would disappear en mass. Probably out hunting. Then they would return. If below he would hear their squeaks through the hull. Friendly squeaks of pleasure and fun. This had been going on for fifteen days. Quiet seas and steady winds meant hardly a sail had to be touched. The ship ploughed on towards the next port as if pulled by a string. The empty chart showed a steady line of x's advancing inexorably towards Pattaya. The next harbor was on the next chart. No need to worry. This chart was empty. Just water and position fixes marching towards Pattaya.

Pushing the ship and himself hard like in his racing days, the sailor put the Babuyan Islands to port as he started down the South China Sea. Surrounded now by Vietnam, China, Malaysia, and the Philippines he was now in paradise. There were friendly brown flip-flop women at every place on the chart. But he didn't stop! Something was luring him back to Thailand. It wasn't a Wan or a Noi or a Fa or a Lon. No slim-hipped wonder was waiting for him. His mooring off the new pier in Pattaya Bay awaited but no raven haired smiler would be on the dock waving. But still he pushed. Night and day. Traditional maritime pleasures held little appeal this time–there was an urgency from an unknown source. He must get back to Thailand. He didn't know why!

One night he was awakened at dawn by the sound of squeaks through the hull right next to his ear. But these were not squeaks of pleasure and fun. They were agitated and high pitched and frequent. He lay listening; trying to divine the meaning. Wondering if something in their watery lives required him. Then the hairs rose on the back of his neck. A message was being sent. He came up on deck and immediately looked over the stern to see if a squall or a ship or a rogue wave was sending a message of death. A helmsman's habit formed long ago. But there was nothing. Just early morning flying fish and streaks of dawn. So he turned to face the bow. The dolphins! They were all massed around the boat as the sun was coming up. A thousand of them. Turning and laying on their sides and looking at him. Then en mass they churned to the bow, tore off in a streak; and then arched to the right. Then they circled back and repeated. Tore off the front of the bow on his course and then arched to the right. The third time they did this it occurred to him that they might be trying to tell him something. He dropped down below and looked at the chart. Nothing. Clear water ahead. Groggy with sleep his arm slipped and pushed on the sextant case he had been using to anchor the chart. There under where the sextant case had been was a reef. Right up ahead. Close. Deadly. Bounding to the deck he took the beckets off the wheel, slacked the mizzen sheet and bore off towards the right. The dolphin course that they had been showing him. He was saved. Saved by his slippery friends!

After making the course correction the sailor looked up. The ship was surrounded by dolphins! Ahead and astern, port and starboard. Laying on their sides. Looking at his eyes. A thousand smiling slippery forms. Suddenly they shot ahead and disappeared. Then up ahead and a mile abreast a thousand upwellings became a thousand leaping, jumping, splashing, smashing, slippery, smiling friends. Right course taken. Final validation from a higher power–no rocks or reefs ahead. Altruism only comes from a higher consciousness. Felt abstract bonding and demonstrated love. The sailor wondered what else they knew! Did they know something about his future that he didn't know? Did they save him from his present so that he could meet his future? He wondered if he would ever see them again.

Tell this story to a scientist and he will wonder how the dolphins knew of the position of the reef when it was over the horizon. They miss the point. That is not the most interesting question that you can ask. The most interesting question is why they took an interest in the man. They had nothing to gain. Traditionally we act to avoid pain or to seek pleasure. But this was neither. This was altruism. A mammalian species to species connection beyond understanding. We are all acting on a bigger stage than we know. Sometimes when the house lights go down and the curtain goes up it is best to just go with the flow. The theater of life is always bigger than us and we are connected to each other in ways beyond our understanding. At sea sometimes the person at the wheel will suddenly feel the hairs on their neck go up. There is a message being sent. Turning and looking over your shoulder you will sometimes see a big wave or a ship or a squall. There is a new actor on the stage and he is bigger than you. You have been warned. Now it is time to pay attention. Your life is about to change. It is time to go with the flow. Always listen to the hairs on the back of your neck. It is a message of involvement. Something bigger than you is calling. You are about to be involved in something bigger than yourself. You have to know when to jump. Jump off the moving train to save yourself. Or jump on the moving train to find yourself. You have to learn to listen!


PART TWO: WHAT IS THE MESSAGE?

It is 7am in South Pattaya and I am feeling fine. I have just said goodbye to Wan in front of the AA hotel and I am now on my way to the Mini-Mart on 2nd road to pick up the Pattaya Mail newspaper and some cashew nuts and M&M candies and some yogurts and a carton of orange juice. Breakfast. It is already heating up. Another typical early morning experience in Pattaya that I love. And I have learned that instead of taking my breakfast loot back to the hotel, that it can sometimes be very profitable to go down to the boardwalk next to the ocean. Who knows what beguiling beauty is waiting to have nuts and yogurts and orange juice with me?

But this morning is different. Walking up soi 13 I suddenly feel the hairs on the back of my neck go up. Electrically charged message receivers. Instinctively I turn and look over my shoulder. But there is no rogue wave about to roll over the transom and inundate the vessel. There is no ship without a lookout on a self steering course that means death to all before it. There is no black horizon with silent lightning bolts stitching the sea to the cloud. It is just soi 13 in Pattaya early in the morning. I could see Beach road and the palm trees and the boardwalk and the quiet ocean beyond. Quiet. I turned and continued my walk up soi 13. The hairs on the back of my neck stood out like miniature porcupine quills all the way up. By the time I got to the curb of Second road I was exhausted. "OK" I heard myself saying, "I'm paying attention. But what are you trying to tell me? What is the message?"

As I stepped off the curb of Second road to begin the trip across to the Mini-Mart my right eye spotted a big yellow car far in the distance. A canary yellow 1933 Rolls Royce Phantom II Continental Saloon with black window frames and door handles and detailing, smoked glass, and gold plated spokes. Like a deranged mystic staring at the sun I couldn't tear myself away. Hypnotised. Now stopped two feet off the curb and oriented towards the apparition like a coastal range finder at right angles to the beacon. But this was no beacon. It was just a big yellow car. What did it matter? How did it involve me? The big yellow apparition was a long ways away. I looked around. Was anyone else involved in this? Was anyone else staring at this car? Nope. Just me. I felt a connection. A disquietude. My throat was constricting and the back of my neck was getting tingly and my eyes felt dry. I was losing my self. Crossing the street with my eyes averted felt like treason. As if I had forgotten my role. My right tracking eye noticed that the car changed lanes twice. As I jumped the curb it was now in my lane. It's lights flashed. I ran into the Mini-Mart like a roach escaping under a baseboard.

Standing in the back of the Mini-Mart staring into the drinks cooler I have the random thoughts of the early morning riser–"I've been coming to this Mini-Mart for years and I can never for the life of me remember which one of these little orange drinks I like. . . I wonder if Noi will be on the boardwalk this morning. . . I wonder if that big Rolls Royce has gone by yet. . . I wonder if there will be the same interminable brain fry of a wait at the checkout counter as the cashier puts in a new cash register tape–you'd think that they would do that the night before. . . If I turn around and see that yellow car I am going to shit in my pants!"

Walking up to the check-out counter I can see that the sweet Thai father's daughter is putting in a brand new cash register tape. Time slows as if it is an experiment in Einsteinium physics at La Cern. You can almost hear the grinding of overtaxed synapses in her brain as she grapples with the vicissitudes of mechanics and logic. Oppenheimer at the Los Alamos Proving Grounds didn't have a problem of this complexity with the atom bomb. "Chill out" I say to myself. "It's Thailand. Once you puncture through this idiocy barrier the rest of the day is a coast." Then the big yellow Rolls Royce pulls up outside! It fills the window. You can't hear the engine. A quiet behemoth of luxury and power. A great beast that looks out of context on this shabby Third World street. The large hood ornament is cut crystal. A bare to the waist Thai woman with flowing hair and wide set eyes and high cheekbones. It's not sexy. It's commanding! The symbol of an alpha woman. There are three occupants. Two men in the front. A woman in the back. The men's heads don't move but their glinty reptilian eyes track and then lock on to me. I feel like a naked woman with someone's eye at the keyhole.


PART THREE: CONNECTION

Early morning breakfast paper and goodies in hand I should exit the store, cross the street, and start down soi 13 for the boardwalk next to the sea; a brain synapse plugin due to repetition and happy memory. But I don't. Instead: like a common streetwalker, I turn right and start walking down the sidewalk. Slowly, hugging the curb; ramrod straight posture, clear sinuses, little hairs standing on the back of my neck. Something tells me that the big yellow car that I spotted on the horizon has come for me. I can't explain it but I can feel it. It changed lanes twice to no purpose. It flashed it's lights at me. It stopped in front of the store. The guys in front made eye contact. My instincts tell me we are connected. Walking down the sidewalk with the quiet monster creeping up behind; I feel like a bargirl being followed by a farang. Except that I don't have the confidence of a woman. Inside of ten strides I can feel the insides of my psyche crumbling like an old building's brick facade. My throat is going desert dry and I can feel the clamping down inside my chest. I now have to throw my feet forward. Gone is the confidence and the easy gait and now the bottoms of my legs have concrete blocks attached instead of sandals. Finally, it is no good. One of us will have to stop. Either the following car will have to stop and release me; or I will have to stop and will a confrontation. I stop. I turn. The car eases up beside me and stops. Standing on the curb where the door frame separates the front window from the back window I can see inside.


PART FOUR: SEX AND POWER

Looking in the front I can see that the driver is a bullet head who looks like Odd job in the James Bond film Goldfinger. His front seat companion is an impassive Thai in his forties with a face of little short scars. Muay Thai memories! He is wearing the too-tight shirt of ex-police. There is a stainless steel chromed Glock on his lap–invisible to outsiders because of the smoked windshield but easily accessible. An employee willing to stop a bullet for his mistress in the back. The yellow touring car a giant beehive of fated lives. The worker bees in the front sworn and happy to protect unto death the queen bee in the back. In the Glock's mirrored finish I can see the reflection of an AK47 strapped to the roof. It is painted purple to match the purple plush velour of the overhead. The front of the car exudes power and potential violence waiting for the order to spring into kinetic violence. The back of the car exudes female sex. Eyes rolled back, arched spine seizure coupling beyond personality. Sex and Power. The big time! Both front seat occupants (I will call them Glock and AK) are in love with their passenger. Neither is consciously aware of it. More than two or three neuron switches at a time taxes their brains but they would defend her to their deaths. They are satellites orbiting her sexual planet inexorably falling in towards her over time. Their final immolation in her sexual force field is their dim dream and source of their loyalty. I stand on the curb looking. Frozen in time and space. Their snake eyes move but not their heads. Blasting caps couldn't get smiles out of these guys. I am not fooled. One aggressive move towards their female employer and I would end up in the boot wondering where all of the skinny knives came from. But once accepted by their passenger; one hand raised to me would trigger their unthinking defence and signal the death warrant of the offender. Jesus, what a big game.


PART FIVE: HEAP OF WHEAT

The sound of the rear window lowering the last inch alerts me to the passenger compartment. I step to the left. A face fills the window and looks at me. I am staring at the hood ornament come to life. A face of timeless beauty and fading youth. Wide set eyes and high cheekbones and dark skin. She is turned to face me and gripping the windowsill with both hands. It gives her the straight up support a short woman needs and the black window frame surrounds her face like a gilded frame around a Rembrandt. She knows that. She knows everything. This car is all about calculation and focus. I'm standing by a riverbank in two foot grass thinking it is time to look for snakes. All I wanted to do was pick up a newspaper and some breakfast snack foods and go down to the boardwalk. But I have been turned into farang statuary. I can't move. Her face stares at me. No girlish flirtations. No practised guile. She is gripping the sill with both bejewelled hands. I start to feel the leaning forward that presages the jumper. I am about to tumble into her eyes. Her eyes that are the mirror of her soul. A soul that knows I am the one.

I can feel the blast of air-con escaping from the driver's side window. But no chilled air escaping from the back compartment. The air-con is off in back. The woman is naked to the waist. Sweat bursting from her hairy temples, matted black groin hair rising from her embroidered skirt belt glistening with sweat, her bare breasts mounds around which rivulets of female musk run. She likes it hot. Her red lower lip is high frequency vibrating from sexual need and sexual promise. A woman has needs. But I'm not next in line. I'm last in line. The last impact crater on her moon will be me. It's our fate but my choice. Until I touch the door handle. Then choice will fly away and I will be swallowed whole. Giving myself to something beyond my ability to understand or control.

Unlike most humans she is hirsute! Thick sweaty mats of musky hair running down her stomach and her arms and her legs and landing on the backs of her hands and the tops of her feet and clotting and filling up her pelvic girdle. Low brow, monolithic eyebrow, filed and pointed front teeth, one red pupil and one grey flecked pupil. This is not an alpha woman who is used to men making and keeping eye contact with her. And this is not the girl next door. Her small aged breasts have streaks and stretch marks. I don't care. Her waist has lost it's girlish shape. I don't care. I dream of laying my head down on her stomach as on a heap of wheat and dreaming of fluffy clouds. She is a woman to her bones. In the shower she won't have to be shown how to put her arms up with palms against the tile. And a gentle press between her shoulder blades would trigger the bend over reflex. The stones on her fingers are the silly secondary stones that Thailand endlessly promotes. But these rubies and emeralds and sapphires are not the neutered tumbled round shapes attractive to the teenager or the housewife from Hamburg; these ring stones are great huge rectangular boxes with sharp vertically slashed sides. They look like they were cut with chisels. They scream sex and power and libido. One of these great sharp stones under my nut sack would rewrite the sexual contract every night.

Reading her eyes I can read the offer! She is not begging. There is no seduction. Stepping off the curb would deliver myself to a Thai Transylvanian picnic of sexual slavery amongst the jungles west of Sangkhla Buri. I would be a slave to myself. A self only dimly dreamed up to now. A younger Dana would feel the warning hairs rising on the back of his neck. But I am not receiving any messages of danger. Only the pressure in my chest and the stretched muscles in the backs of my legs as my body and my mind wrestle with the fateful act of leaning forward. At a certain age you are only left with two choices; fetal position and whining victimhood, or moving through curtains of time and experience towards the next adventure. I am leaning forward. Not yet fully committed, but not scared either. The rest of me at age 54 is falling apart but my ego and my libido are still intact. Like a dog scenting the morning breeze, I can feel the rest of my life on the cusp of my very next decision. There won't be a second chance and no one will believe my story. I am all alone. Like a philosopher astronaut cutting his own tether to drift towards a personal dream and an unimagined future. I have to act alone! She won't help me. It is not about seduction or about predation. It is about choice. My choice. I am being offered a gift that can not be duplicated. I am being tested. Am I man enough?

She has waited her life to meet me! Am I ready? When her sharp pointed front teeth scrape across my jugular vein will my heart race like a hummingbird's heart or beat like a metronome of acceptance? Her eyes go from opaque to smile. But not to seduce. Just to show the humanity and the depth of the water. I have to be smart enough to know that seduction is not necessary. Nothing I have learned in bars or with bargirls is relevant. It is 'start over' time. The eyes tell me that the door is not locked. But I have to be able to step through. Mr Glock and Mr AK in the front are not going to open the door for me. That's not in the playbook. Not yet. This is going to be two birds on a branch; fated and mated for life. No talking, no negotiating, no posturing. Quiet deep water reflecting the sun by the day and the moon at night for whatever eternity is available to us.


PART SIX: RADIO STARS

Standing on the shabby Pattaya sidewalk in the early morning sun holding my bag of groceries; suddenly with the spooky science fiction time machine vision of a rat looking down a cosmic drainpipe I can begin to see my future. Stepping off the curb and into the car I will not only leave the West and my Self behind but also plunge into past and present and future wormholes of space and time where dimensions don't compete for place but exist together. Life lived in the now but without the limiting context of past and future. It can make buying gifts for the wife problematic. Sometimes she knows what I have bought for her before I have decided what to buy her. Sometimes she knows the sex was great before we had any. A happy life of inclusion and exclusion. Our inclusion admits of no needs. Others feel excluded. They shouldn't. We are two Ishmaels that have found each other and now revolve around each other like radio stars. Glock and AK and the accountants and the lawyers and the vendors and the monks and government people and townspeople all seem to be aging. Helpless responders on the treadmill of mortality. Not us! We have escaped. Fallen into each other like the conscious suicide who imagines he is falling towards a rising God. A suicide of ego leading to happiness and acceptance and love. We will marry and spend the rest of our lives living on her jungle estate outside of Sangkhla Buri near the Burma border. The house staff will be Vietnamese virgins and the gardeners will be retired Burmese warlords. The source of the money will be a mystery. I will learn to breed koy fish and spend my days raking the hot white pea gravel in the Garden of Contemplation. She will age gracefully in the housetop cupola while the slow moving fan dries her nails.

She smiles. If I reach for the door handle she has landed me in the boat and there is no going back. I should summon all of my critical faculties and Western trained predispositions to logic to make this decision. Instead I look at her bare shoulders. I feel like early Spring grass in the morning breeze. Still rooted but wavering. Scenting the future on the wind. If I step off the curb and touch the door handle I will never see the AA hotel again, and I will never meet Noi on the beach boulevard again, and I will never take a date to the Hofs House restaurant again. It will all fade away as the past and the future fly away from each other. Stepping off the curb towards the car will be like pushing off into a raging stream full of rapids, great beauty, excitement, joy, wonder, and perhaps the chilling gathering roar of a waterfall ahead. A sensible man would stay on the curb, smile at the Korat brown, high cheeked Thai face in the car window and then wave goodbye. But that sensible man would have to be a blind man. I can see her soft shoulders and her small hands with the large rings. Her jade wrist bracelets match her green eye shadow. Her two tone red lipstick is singing a siren song of sex and grunting and moaning in the night. Her long ink black hair will sweep forward and tickle my chest as she rides me. Her musk scented sweat dripping off the tip of her nose onto my chest. My last conscious act of selfish volition will be to step off the curb here on 2nd road in South Pattaya in front of the Mini-Mart. As I touch the door handle I will feel the gathering vortex. She will be pulling me in. I will not be resisting. I will feel adrift and happy. I'll spend the rest of my days saying "Yes Honey!" and love it every time I say it. I will be entering a life of shared sexual slavery and shared psychosis. Acceptance. Happiness. Love. Thailand is finally going to have all of me! No more trips to Don Muang airport to return to the States. No more planning the next trip back. The screw will have finally turned the last time. When I am with her I won't want to be anywhere else. And when I am not with her; I'll be in a state of suspended libido–waiting to be with her again. Like a swami who can control his heart beat, my pulse will drop to almost zero until I am with her again.


PART SEVEN: JASMINE AND SANDLEWOOD

In the beginning sometimes it felt as if two galaxies of need had joined together creating the happy chaos and calm of love. Other times, I had the disquieting not so subconscious pinpricks of a lost farang boy-toy in a gilded cage. But as past and present and future looped and folded in upon themselves like the fevered dreams of physicists the rough edges of my thoughts were worn down. I would grow out of this idea and be shamed by the memory.

Like the new monk that chafes at climbing the ladder early in the morning to ring the temple bell and chafes at carrying morning water pails up the hill, after a while the physical became inconsequential. She had chosen wisely. Fate makes no errors! What wouldn't have worked with me at age 24 or age 34 or age 44 was a work in progress at age 54. Acceptance. Happiness. Love. Falling into something the way the jumper leaves behind his life and plummets towards the dimensionless future. She could have come for me thirty years ago or twenty years ago or ten years ago. But I wasn't ready. So she waited; knowing that her age and the lines in her face would not matter. Two beating hearts meant for each other. Now on the same schedule. Days of quiet. Nights of intertwined slumber. No night time fluttering lips or twitching limbs. The nightmares are gone. Two who have slipped into a pool of love and left no ripples behind. Just open hearts and generous spirits. A faraway face might see me raking the white pea gravel in the Garden of Contemplation while she dried her nails under the fan in the house's rooftop cupula. But that was just the daily dross because our hearts were still beating. She was in me and I was in her. In this life or the next. The Nirvana of Continuem.

The jungle compound between the Khao Laem reservoir to the east and the Burma border to the west is a land that time forget. Populated by elephants and snakes and stateless refugees not allowed back into Burma and denied identity cards by Thailand. A forgotten people living hopeless lives of hunting and gathering. The living dead. And useless. Gravitating to the compound for expected jobs they were disappointed. The men couldn't fathom or learn to operate anything with moving parts and the women were so simple that they hadn't figured out how babies happened. Standing next to the landing strip behind the house as planes came and went; they stared fixedly and uncomprehendingly. No upward gaze of the cargo cult for them: they hadn't even figured out the electric fence yet. It cracks and zips and buzzes and burns day and night as they repeatedly lurch and walk and lean and stumble into it. The wife feels that they outrage the landscape and is thinking of having them all shipped to our high altitude tin ranch in Bolivia. I would like to demur but I probably won't. I try to assuage my guilt by blocking with pleasure. I had a boat shipped in by chopper to sail up and down the reservoir. I thought it would be fun.

While she is shipping the jungle dwellers to our ranch in Bolivia to labor in the mines; I spend the summer skimming across the reservoir. Beating, reaching, or running it is all the same. The Twenty-First century incursion makes no impression. The dip net fisherman look like something out of an old National Geographic magazine. No one makes eye contact. No one waves. No one smiles. I am a ghost. Without visual or social currency. At the end of the season I step out of the boat and never look back. Two years later at a festival in far off Ubon Ratchathani 700 kilometers to the east I see the catamaran again. Shorn of the mast and the rigging there were only the two hulls and the trampoline deck. The hulls and the deck were covered with laughing children and being pulled by an elephant. I began to wonder if I was hallucinating.

As love takes over and seeps into every fiber of my being matters of the mind become unimportant. Selective memory won't be necessary. No one will ask about my past. Thoughts of the future will be irrelevant. Love and time do not inhabit the same chart. My future is in other hands. It is the Now that requires handling. Learning when I am part of the developing equation and when it is best to be feeding the koy fish. Learning new ways to deal with issues of personal dignity and self respect. Wisps of dignity like frayed ropes on a camel's pack. When I stepped off the curb and into the car I left the West and my Self behind. That sticky stuff on the bottoms of my shoes comes from her web. Somehow I must travel from her game to our game. My game will never happen.

On long solitary drives with Glock and AK I would often get the feeling that packs of slit-eyed slathering soi dogs should be accompanying us like a 15th century Transylvanian carriage. It all seemed so unreal. But looking out the window would show only the low key landscape and litter of Thailand. Sometimes while being squired around in the dreamy disconnect of my new life I would think about my dolphin friends. Where were they? Were they happy? Did they ever think of me? Having a fishy flash from the past seemed no more strange than any other part of my new life. I wondered if they knew what future they had saved me for and if we were still connected in some way. I wondered if I would ever see their smiles again.

Struggling back up the cosmic drain pipe of confused time dimensions and plopping out on to the sidewalk I realize that if I step off the curb and touch the door handle that there will be no going back. No more manic energy and thoughts spent on visas, no more worries about being deported or jailed, no trips through customs alone and nervous. No watching for and dodging police as I amble down Walking Street. I will become the second snakehead on a two-headed hydra of privilege and power. Winters will be spent in Zermatt skiing. Spring will be jewelry and fashion buying trips to Paris. Summer in Bolivia on the ranch financed by Indian slave labor and tin. The Fall in Bangkok will be the busy season attending galas, and openings, and lawyer and accountancy meetings, cultural events, trips to the palace, and multiple meetings with police and government officials. I will be like a dog on a leash. There, but not involved. Always the two FSG's (front seat guys) will accompany us. Plus assorted staff and obscure Thai friends and relatives of the wife. We will move like quiet liners through the fogs and the mists of countries entry and exit procedures. Never a raised eyebrow, baggage check, questioned document, or query. Almost as if a call had been made in advance. As the years go by I will stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. Our love will fit and wear like old gloves. My aging body will start to exhibit hair where hair never grew before and my breath will start to smell like musk. We will grow into each other.

Trips to Paris were always hurried affairs. First the trip to the tailor who had her dress manikin. Into his hand she would shove fistfuls of fashion ads she had ripped out of magazines. Weeks later the postal person in Sangla Buri would start making trips to the compound with big cardboard boxes. Or the heralding trumpets of elephants and screeching of tropical fliers would announce the inbounding of a STOL plane to our remote compound in the Thai jungle. A turn around at the end of the strip and taxi up to the gazebo and a small dark pilot would open the door and hand out a big cardboard box that my arm couldn't fit around. Another shipment from France. Another maniken measured custom made Parisian outfit had arrived for the wife. A woman who spent most of her time bare to the waist in sarong and flip-flops. Carrying the box across the close cropped lawn looking for cobra and krait and viper I could always feel the smaller items sliding around inside. Every outfit came with matching purse and shoes and jewelry.

Sometimes the boxes were never opened. Other times she would model the new outfits for me; Paris fashions within an elephant ride of the Burmese border. Sometimes I would wonder if I was hallucinating.

In the beginning, I used to try and engage the pilots in happy eyes and happy talk but they weren't having it. As soon as the package was delivered they would slam the cockpit door, gun the engine, and get out as fast as they could. Standing in the steamy humid heat of the high peaked bamboo gazebo with our cooks Good Luck finch cages bumping my head I would get the chills. I lived in a bubble of love and planetary nirvana beyond expectation and dream but it didn't travel well. Nobody wanted to stay. Nobody wanted to be dusted with the cosmic pollen of love without strings.

Paris was also one of the stopovers for the diamonds. Stones would be picked out in South Africa and then flown to Paris for consultation and design. Blueprints and stones would then make trips to Amsterdam and New York for primary and secondary cutting. Glock and I would usually courier the stones. Spooky trips with a non-speaking Thai whose sworn promise to his employer was to kill anyone who imperilled me.

Paris and France was full of Thais with various histories and stories and importances and some of them got visited. Once in a while when near the coast I would be able to smell the shore. Low tide and the oxygen rich organics of the mud and the seaweed would waft inshore and carry me back to my sailing days and my youth. I would loved to have rented a car and spent a month driving from one French boatyard and marina to another boatyard or marina looking at boats and talking to sailors. But it was all out of reach now. Part of my psyche that was sucked into the black hole of my past when I chose her. Even the blessed who have acceptance and happiness and love have to make compromises!

Walking arm and arm through the villages and the cities the locals wei to us when we are together and wei to me when I am alone. But few smile. Few make eye contact or step forward. They genuflect and step back. Power and respect freely recognised and freely given. Not necessarily love. She only receives love from me. I only receive love from her. If I am alone and I try to tickle the village girls, or shake the village boy's hands; they flee to the protection of their mothers. My power by association protects me but isolates me. People are alternately attracted and repelled. The only person in my life who makes eye contact with me is my wife and no one makes eye contact with her.

Tedious pointless questions never arise! Who is she? Where is she from? Is she human? Whence the power? Out of what well are we dipping the money? Why the landing strip in the jungle? Few come to visit. The runway is surrounded by generators and lights. But I have never seen a night landing. Do they happen while I am away? The sound of gunfire at night. What is that all about? More things I don't need to know. I don't have to be knowledgeable or competitive or competent. My power and my protection comes from love. A hand raised to me would mean instant death delivered by Glock or AK. Sometimes I wonder if the locals can scent death on me. Only the one thing. She has filed down pointed front teeth. . . Kinda curious about that.

I will choose to see what I want to see and what I want to hear. Best to ignore the way the police stop and divert traffic for us and best not to hear the pistol shots at night. Just close the window and turn up the air-con. Once in a while I will talk to the koy fish. I will wonder what it would be like to walk alone again down the boardwalk in South Pattaya to Swenson's Ice Cream. But then I catch sight of my elegant wife directing the gardeners. Her single off center braid tickles her rear. Her clear acrylic nails glint in the sun. Her green eye shadow matches her green platform sandals. A potpourri bag of jasmine and sandelwood shavings hangs around her neck and her small heaving breasts are running with sweat. She wears only a gold silk skirt. I stow any thoughts of tourist pleasures and ice cream treats.


PART EIGHT: MATURATION

So this is what my twice a year trips to Thailand were all about! It never had anything to do with meeting cute naughty girls or feeding cut bamboo treats to happy elephants or climbing to the top of a temple for the view or the imagined ex-pat future; it was all about maturation. Marking time until I was worthy. They say that the worst thing that could happen to you would be to have all of your private moments made public. Well, she watched every one of my private moments in Thailand. Without judgement. It wasn't a matter of patience. Patience was never the issue. It was just a matter of time. How many more times did my heart have to beat until I was ready for love! That day the big yellow car flashed it's lights as I was crossing 2nd road in South Pattaya was D day. Decision day. Time was up. She knew it. Did I?

She waited because she knew that I was the one. The hairs rising on the back of her neck years ago had presaged a message that she listened to. She didn't need dolphins to help her. I was the one! But we were on different schedules. Now it was time! My fading body and increasingly dreamy mindsets are irrelevant. It's flash the car lights time! Decision time. Commitment time. Time to be two birds on a branch. Will I be smart enough to step off the curb and touch the door handle? There won't be a second chance! My intact libido and compromised 54 year old physique are the patina needed on my ego to be ready for love. Now it is possible for me to be connected to someone by a silver cord of information. Bits and bytes of soul and mind.

Monks spend their lives chanting and self sacrificing and waiting and hoping for the freefall. The delicious leaving behind. The escape. The unburdening of life's woes. Nirvana! They could shortcut the process by stepping off the top of a very tall building. Or by accepting love when offered. Love is a kind of suicide where you leave your self behind. As you fall towards God's uplifted arms you always see love. Love is coming for you. But you had to make the commitment first. You had to throw the baggage off the train. Standing there in the early morning sun with my future in the shadow of the back seat I knew that if I stepped forward she would move over. Contract signed. She would freefall too. Into my arms. Like two dust motes in an uncomprehending embrace we would live out our lives being blown by the wind. Sure there would be some structure. The Sangkhla Buri compound as home, Zermatt in the winter, Paris in the spring; but it would all be like indistinct fast moving images through a dirty train window. The only thing that would count would be us. If my hand reached out and touched the door handle I knew that the screw had turned for the last time. Contract signed. Writ large in my soul's ink. All would be left behind. There wouldn't be any more trips to the Nana Entertainment Plaza to look at girls. There wouldn't be any more passport stamps to the United States. She would forget her children and I would forget my family. And there wouldn't be any more submissions to Stickmanbangkok.com.

Already I can feel the winds of change as the gravitational attraction of the car starts to effect my sense and my sensibilities. Present and future already displaying themselves without regard to chronology. My brain has shut down. All I can hear is the sound of the car and the sound of my heart in my ears.

Finally, I step off the curb. Seizing the moment and making the commitment to the freefall. The release we are all instinctively attracted to when we teeter on the edge of a tall building. So that is what I do. That is how it all ends. And begins! I step off the curb in front of the Mini-Mart on 2nd road in South Pattaya and touch the door handle of the Rolls Royce. As my hand makes contact with the door handle and my love moves over inside, the hairs do not stand up on the back of my neck! There is no rogue wave or overtaking ship or black squall in this theatre. All safe now. Right decision made. I have finally graduated. I am a man. The car door frame is like a portal to Nirvana. My final voyage and no squeaking slippery friends need to look after me. As my hand touches the door handle and the commitment contract is signed a great whoosh of tension leaves my body as if someone has opened up a psychic relief valve. This will be replaced by an incoming inflationary wave of love as I pass through the door frame and sit next to my future. Before I open the door I take one last look over the car's roof towards Pattaya and the sea. The sea and the sky is the normally featureless tableau of nature. Clear light blue sky and flat dark blue sea. Suddenly just off the beach there are a thousand upwellings that burst into a thousand leaping dolphins. Individuals and groups and families and packs of leaping, spinning, somersaulting, splashing dolphins. They line up abreast for a mile and splash and smash and jump and flip and squeak and smile. Thailand. Land of Smiles. Final validation from a higher source–no reefs or rocks ahead–right course taken! It's time to go!

A wrapped-in-rags trash picker across the street has been standing in the early morning light staring at the car. Canary yellow with gold wheel spokes and smoked glass and crystal hood ornament it looks like a great beast and beacon of the life she would never have and had scarcely dreamed. Standing by the car looking over the roof at the city and ocean beyond I was having my last personal moment. The trash picker could see my lips moving. But she couldn't hear the words. But my new life inside the car heard the words.

"So Long Guys!"

Stickman's thoughts:

The end of an era.