The Old Hand
Though the years give way to uncertainty
And the fear of living for nothing strangles the will
Golden bar 11 AM. Those lyrics swimming around in my head. Pushing 60 and looking it. I stare at my cell phone screen and a photo of what is gone stares back. I’m also a cynic which makes my maudlin drunken thoughts comical. It’s the never ending circle of the weak mind. I’m not alone at the bar; there are four or five clones of me doing the thousand yard stare, all no doubt playing their 70’s favourites around in their heads. Self pity? No, more self awareness. Then the small grin, memories of the threesome that lasted a month, the fist fight in Udon that I won, the injected 6 Alfa Romeo that would do 250 kph and I took it there often. Not a lot really.
I am not an endangered species in Thailand and nature has ensured a steady stream of replacements. I can look over the bar railing at soi 4 and see the future. Your secret heroes become the blokes who do jump, honest types, burden on no man, had a good innings and signed off. I toast their memory with a slug of my Leo.
What if I hadn’t found Thailand? Yeah, Thailand *ucked me up, I’m a victim, all the chances I had have been given squandered on a 40-year party. I laugh to myself and drink some more. I'm feeling good. A characterteur is all I am, but hey isn’t everyone.
Oi sits down.
I’ve never said it to any of the girls but that’s a lie, I have. But a Thai in high heels looks like Minnie Mouse. They all do, ladyboys excepted. Shouldn’t I think more about my children? Send Oi to the bar for drinks. How shady are some of the blokes in this bar? Probably no shadier than me but a Casablanca fantasy covers the obvious truth of old lost souls.
What about the blokes who still care, all bright eyed and bushy tailed. Maybe they have a secret, something like god or testosterone, or maybe (and this is my real thought that runs parallel with the other thoughts) that they are the losers from school, just old now. They sat up the front, did homework and didn’t drink. Yeah, that’s them, still amongst us, still no idea.
Oi is going through her bag for the tenth time semaphoring me to ask “what are you looking for” so she can say (not outright) money.
Starting to go nasty now, money is a back brain trigger. Oi senses it but doesn’t give a shit. I have been told that drugs like Prozac can stop the loop of thoughts in the brain thereby enabling you to “move on” but I have grown fond of the switches and now it’s the casino in Phnom Penh. I’m talking hundreds of thousand US. I sit a bit more upright on my stool, proud of myself. It’s all gone, of course, but those bright-eyed, bushy-tailed *unts never knew the feeling, did they!
Oi is old. She doesn’t even look any good naked. I should *uck her off. I can’t send her away because I’ll be lonely, like a boy, thinking of my mum long gone and the meaning of it all. Oi puts her hand on my forearm. She reads me like a book. She’s a good sort, old Oi.
How easy is it to live where it is hot? Oi wants to eat. I want to keep drinking. She could eat at the bar. No it’s too expensive, it isn’t, it’s just that I want to control her. I can see now that all my behaviour I have witnessed around drunks since I was a teen, the alcoholic brain follows a well worn pattern. We head off towards Sukhumvit Road for some food for Oi.
The drunk and the old working girl in the Minnie Mouse shoes, a subset of Sukhumvit life. Yeah I belong, I have been accepted, maybe as a figure of derision but accepted nevertheless. I can imagine the tourists looking at me and saying “Wow, look at that old hand, he’d have a story or two to tell” but I know that is a fabrication. There is no stage and the fact remains I feel too self conscious to walk into the Landmark. Shit, I need a drink. I could hit Oi for making me look like a loser. I launch in to an expletive-laden harangue at Oi. She doesn’t give a shit.
So come to Thailand, call it the house of the rising sun, no need for a back catalogue of memories here. You will end up with a new play list, your own playlist just like every *ucker before you.
Many can relate, and I am sure many will not want to relate, even if it is them…