28 Plus 5 Makes?
Do you know how old you are? I do. I’ve known how old I was for a very long time. The last time I didn’t know how old I was would have been about 37 years ago when I was 3. Ever since, unfailingly, when asked the question ‘How old are you?’ I’ve been able to pony up the answer, with complete accuracy, in the blink of an eye.
My dear old Dad who passed away a few years ago at the ripe old age of 86 knew, despite the encroachment of time and failing health, how old he was. All my friends know how old they are, as do my enemies. The security guard downstairs knows with complete accuracy how old he is and all his kids do too. There are folk who don’t use the Julien calendar who if you asked them in a remote jungle clearing in far flung Irian Jaya ‘How old are you?’ would say something like ‘Well, next harvest I’ll be 467 moons’. And he’d be spot on. In short 99.9% of humanity know with almost uncanny accuracy, given what ever counting system they employ, how old they are.
There are however some people who don’t. Some poor souls with dementia don’t or people who have been hit in the head with a lump of concrete don’t either. Then there’s that increasingly rare group who grew up in some rural bolt hole in Siberia at the end of the 19th century and through sheer laziness on their parents' behalf, didn’t make it on to the registry of births until they wandered into town in the 1930’s, so their 14th child ‘Svetlana’ only has a vague idea of her age. We only know this because they keep showing up on the TV, in the human interest bit at the end of the news claiming to be the oldest person on earth at 146.
Where is this going you are asking yourself? Bear with me as I have met someone in Bangkok who without the benefit of senility, head trauma followed by short term memory loss or government registrars 3 weeks walk away doesn’t know how old she is.
Which brings me neatly to the story of O.
I met O, as you do, somewhere in the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ between Nana and Asoke, the area where one can overcome the laws of physics and morph from a rather sad, pot bellied westerner into someone so charismatic and good looking that girls half your age swoon in your very footsteps. It must be something in the Heineken. So there I was confronted by a lovely young lady, slim, fun, and chatty from upcountry and 28. One thing led to another and over the next week we spend a couple of nights together. All well and good. On our last night together she announced she was off back to the family farm in the sticks in the morning and the gent that I am I walked her to the bus stop and off she went with the promise that we’d do some more ‘horizontal folk dancing’ the next time she was in town. Didn’t hear from her for a while and then about 10 days later the calls started.
It was the usual. ’I miss you’, ’I think about you a lot’, ’When you come Bangalangaburi (or where ever she was from)’. I took it all in good heart. I had no intention of going upcountry to spend 2 days drinking hooch and swatting mossies in the back end of nowhere but anyway, she was due to come back to Bangkok soon so I said I’m busy here but we’ll hook when she was down.
She’s a nice girl. Not only is she easy on the eye but is engaging, tells funny stories and is relaxing to hang out with. She worked for a couple of days in a club on Soi ‘somewhere or other’, introduced by her friend, but didn’t find it to her taste and then tried her luck doing the freelance thing for another couple which is when I met her. She’s 28 and has only a tiny experience of the ‘naughty nightlife’, which is really a way for her to meet a boyfriend and live happily ever after. Those were the facts she equipped me with. There were of course other facts that she didn’t equip me with.
‘Forewarned is forearmed’.
Unfortunately for my petite fun buddy I’d had a bit of luck. About 3 days after she was supposed to have returned to Ma and Pa I happened upon her in the street in the loving clutches of a rather pleased looking farang and even luckier I was able to ID her without being seen myself. I would say ‘busted’ at this point but it was a mute point as I had no more intention of becoming her boyfriend than applying for the next space shuttle. Still if I had I would have qualified as one of the luckiest ‘bar stewards’ in the big mango.
Anyway she came down and I got the full on "I missed you" sales pitch. God loves a tryer…and she did try. Which brings me in a very round about way to the question of age. Now she’d pitched 28 and under the diabolical influence of Mr. Singha and his evil sidekicks that could have been the case…however in the morning it couldn’t. In the cold light of day, 28 would have been generous. Again, frankly I didn’t care, 28 or 38, one thing is women always fib about their age, and our freelance friends tell ‘double portion’ whoppers (with a side salad of falsehoods) and secondly, and more importantly, we’d had a good time. Who cares?
At some stage in the evening we were mucking about comparing photos when she dug out her ID card and showed me, which confirmed her at 33. I feigned mock outrage at finding out…. and this is the punch line. Obviously a little embarrassed to be found out and thinking on her feet she sat, quite seriously, and counted on her fingers up to 33 and sat there stunned at the revelation that she was indeed 33 and not 28, with an expression designed to impart ’Good God, I’m 33 and I’ve been wandering the earth convinced that I’m 28! I simply don’t know what to say’. I let it go…the effort alone in thinking up an excuse that can only be described as surreal was reward enough It was priceless. Not only had I had a good time but she’d given me a tale in a million. Had she been a fella I would have bought her a beer.
As a comparison imagine me as ‘Dave’, your best chum since school, and coming home to find me in your house, hand in your wallet, my pockets containing your family silver and as an opening gambit saying. ’I’m not actually Dave your pal from childhood, I’m actually Bill his long lost, kleptomaniac, identical twin. You wouldn’t mind letting me go would you as I have a serious disorder and I can’t help myself? Oh and don’t tell Dave’. You might be so stunned that you would.
Or maybe I’m being harsh and she really doesn’t know…. she is that thing as rare as 4 leaf clovers, comets and genuine ‘alien created’ crop circles, someone who actually doesn’t know how old they are.
Quick I better call the newspapers!
Funny story. Funnily enough, in the past in Thailand the registration of some people's births was delayed, due to their rural location and a lack of funds to travel to the local amphur office to register. Some people truly do not know exactly how old they are!