The Genie In The Bottle
If you had one wish that would be granted by a Thai Genie, rising like a whisp of smoke out of the neck of an empty bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label – what would it be? I pick Johnny Walker Black Label because Thai Genies do not reside in cheap bottles, thank you very much. And don't forget to rub the bloody bottle, or he won't come out. I don't even like Johnny Walker Black Label – I prefer Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey – but you have to play the game, you know – most Thais like Johnny Walker Black so one can assume that Thai Genies do the same.
OK, now that is sorted out, what would you wish for? Perhaps a never-emptying bottle of Johnny Walker Black? Or maybe you would like a lifetime membership of The Eden Club where all costs are paid up front by your Genie, no matter how many times you visit or how many girls you ask for – no? I know – how about a Lifetime Residency Visa at no cost whatsoever, where you never have to leave the country again or go through the renewal procedure ever again?
No – I wouldn't wish for any of those – I want something much simpler. My wish is that I could be comfortably-rich and it could be 7 pm on 03 December 2004 in Chiang Mai – and I am just about to walk into the bar on Kotchasarn to meet the lady I still think about always. I remember how it all goes and I want to go through all of that again to change the way it all panned out – so that it never ended
I guess this is where I came in, back when I first started writing subs for Stick in 2011. Nothing much has changed, in those intervening ten years to back in Chiang Mai, in the way I feel – and I doubt it ever will because I don't want it to change due to the fact that, no matter how hard I try, there is no way I can forget or let go of how it was. You know, there are some people whom you meet that you have this inner feeling – a knowing – that it was supposed to happen that you would meet – and the rest was up to how we handled it from that moment on. I handled it quite badly back then – so it would appear – but not all of it was my fault [Now listen here, Bozo – it was bloody mostly all of your fault.]. Oh, OK – it seems like it was mostly all of my fault.
The things I am describing are not unique as I have corresponded, in the past, with several other sub contributors (who will remain anonymous) who are just as lost as I am in the memory of someone who was so special that she was unforgettable. You become totally fixated so that nobody who follows after her can ever replace what you are missing. My previous sub – East Is East and West Is West – contained the words for a song written by Canadian singer Stan Rogers – it is called "Forty-Five years" – and the words in that song are the words I wish, so very much, I had been able to speak to this person about whom I write. I have given her several different names at different times but none of them is her real name – so I will just call her Lee.
I'm thinking about Buak Haad Park in the south-western corner of Old Chiang Mai City – a place that was very significant in the time that Lee and I shared together. We would go there often to feed the fish and try to find a quiet place to lay out our hired mat to stretch out for a while to talk and just hold hands. So many times we came here because it is such a pleasant place to relax and watch the people coming and going – young mothers with babies – old men lying on park benches asleep – and all the beauty of the greenery and flowers of all colours – and the shady spots to nod off to sleep. There is an old buffalo cart in the gardens that has been preserved and often has baskets of flowers sitting in the tray – and I have a photo of myself crouching down in front of the cart that was taken by Lee. I have one photo that I particularly love – it is of a young Thai mother sitting on one of those mats that you hire – and her little girl is sitting near her mum and looking at us with a pair of sunglasses half in place on her little head and their stroller is behind the little girl. I thought to myself how wonderful it would be for Lee and I to be a family just like that. I would have given the world for that to be. I did wonder where the father was.
Lee started talking about marriage, probably around a couple of months after we met – a thing I would do with her, without hesitation, if I had my chance over again as a gift from the Genie – and I would have dearly loved to have a family with Lee. I would have treasured a little girl with Lee and I know she would have been just as beautiful as her mum. Lee started trying to fall pregnant and I would have been absolutely delighted had that happened – but, back then, things were different for us – but a new start would make such a big difference and I know things would surely work out just as we wanted, if we had that chance again.
I can still see the lovely restaurant near Saraphi – just a short distance off the Chiang Mai-Lamphun Highway – where we would go for dinner each Sunday with Mama and Papa. Looking west toward Hang Dong, the sun would be setting behind the mountains to the west with whisps of cloud glowing in the orange reflected from the sun's rays – seems like it was only yesterday.
There are too many things to remember and recount – all of them special – but it would take a complete book to record it all. Maybe one of these days I will write it (no, I won't have time) – quite a lot of it is written in diaries or transcribed onto hard drives – yet part of me doesn't want to share it with anyone. My work has taken me to many places and given me the opportunity to meet many women/girls – some of them being one-night stands or short dalliances – but there has never been any person who has affected me to the degree that Lee was able to. She always has been "the one".
In past subs I have written a lot about the lady I met in Bangkok – a person I truly loved and still do – but I have never felt comfortable while still hanging onto the memory of Lee – with me every single day of my life since we parted back on Tuesday 13 September 2005. There have been three occasions since then when Lee and I have shared short periods together – but, under the same circumstances as existed back in 2005, it was never going to be any different. The last time together was a total disaster – but I cannot blame her because it was my circumstances that had not changed and her's had changed significantly. Even so, I still had the same feelings for her – and I still do.
Lee and I have no contact now – not since 2010 and I often wonder if she will marry again (she had one daughter from a previous marriage to a Thai man) or follow the pattern of many Thai women who consider themselves too old once they reach age 30. At least Lee still has her beauty, way beyond 30, unlike many Thai women from country backgrounds who spend almost all of their life working in the fields beside their husbands and end up like Rodin's "Belle Heaulmiere" (the helmet maker's once-beautiful wife) – the pretty maiden trapped inside the farm wife's toil and care.
Perhaps I should change my wish with the Genie – so that Lee and I meet before either of us have married or have any prior romantic involvement. That way, there would be no baggage being carried around and we could have a clean start. I want that – and I would even change my preference to Johnny Walker Black Label to get on the good side of the Genie. I wonder if Jack Daniels has a powerful Genie! Might be able to do a bit of horse trading here – well, it's worth a try. What's that – you don't believe in Genies? Now come off the grass – don't come the raw prawn – we all know that ghosts exist in Thailand – so why not Genies? First of all, you have to believe. Geez … I have some difficult customers.
I doubt I will ever go back to Thailand again in this life – age and my attitudes toward change are things I know I cannot alter. That's what happens when you become a grumpy old fart. Perhaps I have a few years left – whatever – it doesn't concern me much – but one thing I do know is that Lee's name will be the last word I say before I go to wherever it is that we do go.