Boulevards Of Busted Dreams
Soi 7 Biergarten, 2004
“You guys are gonna think I’m nuts,” said Johnny Youngbucks, “but I’m thinking of buying a go-go bar in Pattaya.” The 30-something Canadian, who divided his time between carnal pilgrimages to Brazil and Thailand, sat in the muted afternoon gloom of the Biergarten at the behest of Ronnie Oldbucks, who would not meet at any other venue..
Oldbucks brought his Thai girl-toy: a petite woman with an impressive upper body. Back then, breast implants were rarer than tattoos, and Oldbucks had posted nudie pix of the lady’s fabulous physique on an Internet forum. He knew what he liked—his other paid companions in Manila and Phnom Penh sported equally pert and outsized frontispieces. He enjoyed posting accounts of how many families he supported in Southeast Asia through his philanthropic efforts to save the region’s lasses…well, the ones with outrageous tits, anyway.
The trophy gal picked listlessly at a plate of Biergarten stir-fry. Oldbucks traveled constantly and was in town maybe once a month, so she got bored and hired a Thai boy- toy, then managed to get pregnant. Her general demeanor was boredom, at least when I met her, which was only with her sponsor at said beer dispensary. He claimed she weighed 33 kg, which I found dubious as her breasts alone probably weighed 5 kg.
We told Youngbucks it was a foolish idea, and he agreed, but his ego was still clearly considering the option. Then the two started discussing their yachts and I made an excuse to exit. Never saw either of them again.
2020: the year of the Metal Rat
The Chinese calendar is based on lunar cycles and the combination of five elements & 12 animals. While the Gregorian calendar celebrates change-of-year at 00:00 January 1, the Metal Rat continues chewing until February 12, 2021. And that mythic animal has gnawed mightily on us humans.
I moved back to Bangkok in mid-2019. I have lived on lower Sukhumvit since then, through all phases of lockdown. And throughout it all, no matter what, vendors sold sex toys, dodgy boner-pills, smoking paraphernalia, bootleg DVDs etc etc, while streetwalkers plied their trade. Tuk-tuk touts yelled “Yes boss!” at any farang in sight and coolers with cold beer for sale by the can were always about, despite the nationwide alcohol “ban.”
Legit businesses slowly opened back up, and credit to the Thais for their anti-COVID efforts. There are nominally no cases in-country although borders—especially the one with Myanmar, where many of Thailand’s migrant workers come from—remain porous. I’ve spent much of the current pandemic in my locked-up-tight flat, using the swimming pool for exercise and making shopping excursions. Things right now are at a “new normal” level…at least in Bangkok.
In August I made a trip to Pattaya and thought of Youngbucks. Did he ever buy his ego- stroke go-go bar, was he another casualty on Sin City’s boulevards of busted dreams? I stood in the middle of Second Road near Pattaya Klang Road on a Sunday night with zero traffic—it was like an upcountry capital. Almost all the Indian restaurants were closed, beer bar complexes now housed the homeless. It was a dystopian present with an unknown future.
I don’t know what it’s like now. Perhaps I’ll return in the Year of the Metal Ox.