LOS: Land Of Suicides
"So he finally jumped. Poor devil. Lost his money, eh? Pets.com was it? No, he just spent it all. Sex addiction". This was the kind of talk about town right after his passing. And athough it was all true about his addiction being his undoing,
no one but me knew the real Tony. The others in our circle, in addition to us two Yanks, were the usual Pattaya expat denizens from Europe and the UK that were also addicts to various vices. Hard to find one guy without some fatal flaw, without
something a little rotten at the core. For me it's race pride – not the Molotov missile through the Southern Baptist church window type, just a healthy and natural inner strength for one's heritage. So anyway, this circle of ours
I'll characterize as eating freinds, – "peuan gin" as the Thai call fair weather friends, quickly forgot Tony although they'd known him years. Haven't met another drinking buddy his equal since, and that was in '98.
He used to say how the sound of the waves at Jomtien helped his depression after she'd left him… Now here goes a cautionary tale of how they met, and his decline and ultimate surrender to gravity's pitiless clutch.
Tony was a roofer from Buffalo. Sure those four Super Bowls bothered him, but of course that wasn't it. I knew why it happened. Like almost all of us, he was just a bit lost, needed an earth-angel to cast out his demons. Anyway, he built a portfolio of rental properties with his wife. Some equity, a line of credit, and yada yada, fulfilled an ambition to travel. Tony qiuckly fell into the "pitcher plant" that lies in wait here. His sex addiction was made manifest to me, when after his dream girl of 5 years, Miss Q, had left him for a young tutonic, we'd bar hop all night, have a hundred laughs, and if he didn't find "something", he'd say "this night has been a waste". I knew then that he was a sex addict, and I'd scold him, a bit bitterly, because my vanity hoped our camaraderie should be enough. He was seriously depressed.
Sorry for the convoluted chronology, but please allow me this: One night, walking up Soi VC in 1993 I heard an excited voice saying, "It's true, just take it slow with them and they'll stick by you. I can't believe I found her there!"
"There" was the Blue House Bar, which was next to the Billion Bar in the Pattayaland row of sois. Back then they were THE boom boom / BJ joints for farang. In those times, there were no "beach girls", only the more expensive Walking Street freelancers. I did concur with Tony's choice of Miss Q because she was simply an amazing specimen, a rare find. Even Thais would drop their jaws in dismay seeing this long stem brown beauty with a Caucasian. Tony in contrast was plain as homemade soap. Back then, in 1993, the best of the best you'd find today on the Beach Road were the kind stocked at the Blue House and Billion Bar. The beach trade competition has relegated these once proud establishments, and their brands, to obscurity.
His wife had cancer and had to battle it alone, poor thing. Tony neglected his wife and his properties equally. Typical addict. The 90s were an era of real estate funk while technology stocks, and especially dot com stocks, were the tulip bulbs of the age. This pitiless economic reality played a major part. Sunee Plaza's California Hotel back then was a…what am I thinking? No one cares about this… What a collection of characters it housed. Now part of the gay ghetto there on Soi VC. I recall when the company van was dispatched there to coax me back to that language clip joint I quit. Hated that Chinese bitch. Treated us like cattle. There was a dangerously deranged Iraqi with Stockholm Syndrome that glorifyingly began every sentence with "Saddam…", and a New York Jew tailor's son that wore the same clothes forever and bummed money off poor Thais. Here since 1965! Never expected to contribute to the family business. Kept him on the rolls so he'd get SS benifits. Never goes out at night. A tea totaller. Extremely perverted. Spits when he speaks. Encyclopedic knowledge. Huge collection of tailored suits he has NEVER worn. Anyway, I'm seriously dithering and I'm sorry, but here is where Tony and I had rooms, and why not share some iconic Pattaya past? As Tony's finances crumbled he was never out of sorts, he just persued that ultimate experience as all addicts do, until one day when he knocked on my door at the usual time to go Jomtien Beach to meet our motley group of selfish Pattaya expat flotsom, when he announced ashen-faced, "Well, I've got to do it now."
"What?" I asked.
"Jump, what else?"
I said just go home and get a job, save money and holiday when you can.
By now, he was not welcome home by the wife or his own sisters, and felt it was over for him.
He said "I'm 56 and had a good run. I won't go home and flip burgers".
He asked me how he should do it, and I'm ashamed to say that after telling him that he could just get A JOB and live, realising he was serious, I compassionately recommended Cambodian heroin.
We had been there once, but not to buy heroin, just to tour the place. He dissappointed me greatly when he groped a bargirl at Wat Phnom "to see if they were real". A group of young men saw him and were outraged. Violence seemed imminent but for where we were they managed to bury their impulses. He did give money to a starving boy lying under the park bench where he groped the girl.
On our flight from Phnom Penh back to Bangkok, he cackled with joy every time the plane did something to appease gravity, which was often on that blustery day above the Cardamom range. The four floors of the Bamboo Hotel came and went without a reprieve. Supposedly, there are no ground floors in Thailand, only first floors. You can make a good case for both, but the ground is what kills you. Makes no sense, but nothing about these suicides does unless you really take "No money, no honey" to heart.
Wish he had taken better care of his money. The cops knew who should ID Tony's body, as they'd remembered Miss Q from the year before. Buffalo never claimed its son. His people back home didn't want him anymore. Here for eternity. It's what he would have wanted.
Pattaya has eaten up and spat out a lot of "Tony"s.