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The Endless Summer




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I was having a drink at my favorite bar in Rawai when I heard the loud rumbling coming closer and closer. There was no need for me to turn around when the noise came right up behind me. There was a final roar and the huge motorcycle came to an abrupt silence. A hand clapped me on the back and a voice called for a Sang Som and soda before a warm greeting and a hug from my pal Mac.

I wondered aloud where Mac’s latest girl was.

‘Took her back,’ came the matter of fact reply.

‘Why? I thought that you really like her.’

‘I did, but time’s up.’

‘Time’s up? How long was it, three days or four?’

‘Doesn’t matter- when it’s time, it’s time.’

‘Anyone ever tell you that you have a serious problem with intimacy?’

‘Not since I left America. Had a girl back there kept mentioning the dreaded ten letter C-word.

‘Which is?’

‘Commitment. One had the audacity to suggest that I see a psychotherapist- work out my problems. Me! Can you imagine that?’

‘I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would suggest that to you,’ I laughed.
Mac ordered another drink and one more for me. ‘You know it’s so surreal here most of the time it’s like being in a movie. Maybe life is like that- like the movies. Sometimes we’re in a comedy and sometimes an adventure film or even a musical.’

‘OK, what movie do you think you are in now?’ I was a bit dubious.

‘Do you remember “The Endless Summer”? It was a documentary, shot in beautiful color. Three kids travelled around the world looking for the perfect wave. Well, Thailand is the Endless Summer- only instead of looking for a tight curl or a long roll-its tight buns and long legs and there are always a few more just around the bend.’

‘Very philosophical.’ I shook my head.

‘Sure it’s easy to see. It’s summer here all year around.’

If Mac was aware of my hesitation he didn’t show it and continued on enthusiastically.
‘Ponce de Leon went in the wrong direction. Florida is filled with old people now, America’s graveyard. Just think if he had come to Siam instead. Do you realize that I will never grow old here? Can you imagine that?’ Mac’s grin spread across his entire face.

I raised my hand. ‘check bin khap.’ Time for me to get out of here, I thought.

‘No wait. Don’t go. Can you comprehend that when I’m seventy, going on seventeen, I will still be going out with twenty-two year old girls and riding around on my Harley.’

‘Until you drop dead that is, no doubt with a glass of Sang Som in your hand. Do you realize that you sound very shallow?’ I frowned.

‘So be it. I’m not vain or bashful. I admit it. Selfish and shallow is what a woman called me back home and she may have been right.’

‘Only one woman called you that?’

‘She was a nice lady, others called me much worse. That’s one of the reasons that I feel so comfortable here. Like most of the Thais, my long range plans are terribly short sighted, except that I recognize that fact.’

I jumped up from my stool. ‘Do you also recognize the fact that you sound childish and silly? Don’t you think you should act your age?’

‘There- you hit it on the head. That’s why we’re here. We don’t have to act our age. Here, you’re never too old to have a happy childhood. What would you have me do, date sixty year old women?’

‘Might be safer for you. Remember- I was at the restaurant two weeks ago when your girl jumped you, climbed all over you like a fly on rice. Almost knocked your brains out with a beer bottle. Good thing I grabbed her arm in time.’

‘Yeah, thanks. That was some night; what was her name again anyway?’

‘See that’s exactly what I mean, you can’t even remember their names.’

‘Sure I can. You know that there’s only ten or eleven Thai girls names in all, don’t you?

I left a tip and shoved my change into my pocket. ‘How do you figure?’

‘Hell, they’re all named Lek, Nui, Noi, Oi, Poi, Nuit, Nit.’ Mac held his hands out, palms up and nodded his head in a -you know I’m right gesture.

‘I have to get back to my house, write down all these words of wisdom, going to make a good short story one day. Any other profound observations?’

‘As a matter of fact, yes. Ever notice that when we go into a local bar, the girls hardly look our way?’

‘That’s because they know you’re a hopeless case.’

‘Exactly.’ Mac stabbed the air with his finger.

‘I was only kidding- well, kind of kidding.’

‘But that’s it. I’ve been here five years, understand a bit of the language, am retired and am never going back to the States. That’s precisely what they don’t want to hear. So now when I go to a new bar and get asked the usual three questions: Where you from? How long you stay? What you do?

I tell them that I just arrived a few days ago, have a very important job and will most certainly return to America.’

‘Why?’

‘To give them hope of course. They all either want to leave the country with you or want you to leave by yourself and then have you send them money. And if you can’t understand what they say, they can talk about you in front of your face; call you a big nosed kee-nok- bird doo-doo. I figure that if they can fib to me I can fib right back.’

‘What? Thai bar girls fib?’ I smiled.

‘Listen, if more guys had my attitude, everyone would be a lot happier. So what if you send your girl ten thousand baht a month and she goes out with someone else, or you live together and she doesn’t come home one night.’ Mac shrugged his shoulders. ‘When you go surfing, a wave knocks you off the board but you get right back up and catch another wave. Same thing here. I’m serious now, and please listen to me, as this should be printed on everyone’s visa.

“They tell you what you want to hear, and it sounds good- so you believe it.” They should print that along with, “It’s Ok to play if you know the rules.” Some of the rules are that you will be lied to and will also have to part with some baht. But in the mean time you might catch a hell of a wave, if you know what I mean. Call when your short story comes out.’

I jumped on my Honda dream. ‘Hey,’ I shouted, ‘many a true word is often spoken in jest.’

Stickman's thoughts:

Time for Frank to write a book, I reckon.