“Josh, you need a job, dude.”
Josh didn’t really need a job. He was collecting checks from the government every month for his post-deployment disability. Josh didn’t have a disability. He found an untestable way to get 70% disability from the VA by claiming anxiety, allowing him to get a check every month for around $1400. In Thailand, that was king status.
“What do I need a job for?”
He didn’t. I didn’t know what I was talking about, either. I’m the one that needed a job. It’s a bit hard to build up a blog I could make money from while having a partner in crime living with me doing whatever he wanted, daily. Progress was slower than I anticipated and my credit cards had a limit I was approaching closer and closer each day. Procrastination was my second best friend, and Josh was my first.
Day in and day out we enjoyed our breakfast mixed with a conversation about nothing in particular. Some days we would enjoy our fried chicken and rice in complete silence. I couldn’t decide whether that was more enjoyable than our inane conversations about what we should do, could do, and ultimately did do that day.
“You wanna go ride an elephant?” Josh would ask me once in a while and I would have to explain to him, once again, how unethical I thought it was.
“You know they torture those beasts, it’s pretty fucked up.”
“I don’t care, I just want a picture on one.”
“Enjoy it, I’ll be here working.” He would never go, and I would never get work done. What I would do for sure was smoke my morning cigarette. “I’m going to go chain a heater, you want one?”
We stepped outside of our local favorite diner to smoke, coffee cups in hand. I couldn’t think of anything better to do than smoke a cig with black coffee. For some reason, the taste of shitty menthol smokes and shitty mud coffee were a match made for a nice morning wake up. Our apartment building was right next door to the diner, right along the Gulf of Thailand in beautiful Pattaya Beach.
Every time we sat outside and smoked we saw plenty of interesting things. People that say New York is the city that never sleeps have never been to Pattaya. It was early in the morning, yet there were plenty of people out from the night before on the beach still enjoying their Singha or Chang beer and shitty menthol cigarettes. Girls were stumbling along the sidewalk trying to make it to wherever their destination was. Three-wheeled taxis, tuk-tuks, cruised by as their drivers were yelling at people trying to give them rides and take advantage of their prospective passengers by overcharging them. Only foreigners fell for their pitches.
We finished our smokes and headed back inside to finish our coffee and pay. Enter Drake, our fellow foreigner who really took a liking to the local culture. He liked it so much he had a new piece of culture every night.
“Hey buds, how are y’all? Did you have a blast like me … if you catch my drift?” We knew exactly what our good friend Drake was talking about. By good friend I mean not our friend.
“Drake, I swear one of these days your dick’s gonna fall off from black syphilis. Every damn time I see you, you’re with a different girl. It must be awfully expensive taking all these girls out on dates.” Josh knew damn well there was no date involved with Drake’s interaction with these women.
“Shit, I wrap it up. Don’t you worry about me, you only live once,” Drake replied, as though he knew the risks involved but didn’t mind the consequences. “Besides, you two smoke. What difference is that, bud? Y’all got some black lungs.” He had a point.
“Yeah, whatever Drake, who was that last girl, anyways?” I was always curious where these people came from.
“Don’t worry bout it,” Drake never told us, but I always asked. “You want sloppy seconds, bud? That’s too damn nasty.”
Josh and I both gave Drake the look like when a dog is confused by something, head turned at a 45-degree angle to the right or left, eyes squinted, and eyebrows mashed up together. He promptly left. Drake didn’t seem to understand that if a girl was a working girl, there was no concept of sloppy seconds. Single digits didn’t apply unless you only counted that evening.
“Man I don’t like that guy,” Josh claimed. “He always speaks in haikus.”
“Yeah, listen the next time he talks. It’s eerie as fuck. Dude’s a goober.”
“What about the fact that he objectifies women and contributes to human trafficking?”
“Man, sit yo wannabe intellectual ass down and finish your coffee. Always trying to be politically correct and shit.”
I sat down and finished my coffee.
There was something funny about walking around during the daytime in Pattaya. One could see odd mismatches of couples everywhere, as well as people who flat out looked like they didn’t belong, myself and Josh included.
The very obvious sex tourists stood out like sore thumbs. Nowhere else on earth would someone be able to see a fifty-year-old bald, out of shape man with crusty white lips walking around with a girl who was barely two decades old. They were probably a bunch of bankers or politicians, slapped with a scandal or two who fled their country in search of peace and quiet. And some butt. After a while of seeing it, day in and day out, you get used to it. When I first arrived I was so confused by it. Now I understand the power of a dollar.
Next there are the guys who look like they were in the military for twenty years, got hooked up with a nice retirement plan, and are spending their forties drinking cold beer and bullshitting with their old and new buddies. These guys always had a story to tell, but it was so difficult to end a conversation you started with them (or they started with you). Most of them were heavily tattooed, had short haircuts, and walked around with bodies that look like they once were into fitness but are now wrinkled up and well … retired. When you have a guaranteed check coming every month, you really don’t have to worry about much in life. They had it the best, I would say, minus their more than likely brutal divorce. I guess you have to cut a few ties to live in paradise.
There were a few people there with families, on vacation. Some of the fathers would buy knockoff purses for their wives. I take that back, all of them would buy knockoff nonsense for their wives. There’s a saying in Thailand that the merchants on the street or in bazaars would use, “same same, but different”. It looks the same, it smells the same, and anyone without a keen eye would say that as well, but it was different. Fake. Bootleg. Knockoff. Same same, but different.
Then you had guys like myself and guys like Josh. Young Thundercats who were trying to take advantage of the excellent exchange rate and incredibly inexpensive cost of living. Guys who could get by every month with only a few hundred dollars. Guys that were able to party all night and work, or attempt to work, all day the next day. Guys who “in search of themselves”, but in all reality were tired of the monotonous bullshit of the day to day life that came with wherever they were prior to going on an adventure in faraway lands.
The locals were pretty different as well. One of the first days in Pattaya, Josh and I were walking down a side street doing some general exploration. There were groups of people all sitting outside of small shops. They weren’t doing anything, just sitting there staring at nothing. Women and children and old men, just sitting there staring like they were shell-shocked. As we walked down the street, confused and slightly spooked, we looked into a random store and an older woman decided to pull one titty out and smoosh it against the window and put it on display for us.
“Aye Josh, is that a titty?”
“Yeah, that’s a titty alright.”
We turned back around and went to the main street. I like breasts and all that, but not one pushed up against a window, smearing all the dust and fingerprint marks around. Thanks, but no thanks.
All morning and afternoon, I didn’t accomplish a damn thing. I had a bit of alone time while Josh went out and looked for fake Oakley sunglasses. Sitting in front of my computer, I had nothing to write about. I don’t believe in writer’s block, but damn if it didn’t creep up about 90% of the time. It was early evening now, and I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast.
“Josh, I’m hungry. Let’s go get some chow.”
“Let’s go get some of that spicy shrimp shit from Angel’s. Is your Angus peppered?” That’s what Josh would ask if my butt was prepared for the onslaught.
That spicy shrimp shit was tom yum goong. It was a mix of assorted local plants and spices, lime, and too much chili. It was like a firecracker in your mouth, and I’ve never literally broke out into a sweat eating food before. Needless to say, it really cleaned out the bowels and intestines. Hot coming in, hot going out. End up feeling like a dragon when you eat it, and a rocket ship when you expel it.
Wallet and passport? Check. Keys and burner cell phone? Check. Underwear? Check. Thailand has some weird ass laws, like you have to wear underwear. Off we were to our destination of mastication.
We made it out the front door to our apartment and started whistling “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton. That was our thing, whistling it anytime we started walking anywhere, up until the orchestral part when we would drop the whistling and start doing ‘buh duh dum’ sounds effects. We could do it a few times in the four block walk.
Block one down and we could already point out two pairs of odd couples. Gross. We were offered the chance to buy some boom boom pills, which could be anything from Cialis to ecstasy to baking powder. Hard to pass up … not.
Block two was defeated, as my hunger grew deeper. Two chicken drumsticks and sticky rice doesn’t last very long when you’ve been working so very hard all day. It doesn’t last long when you haven’t done a damn thing all day either. A taxi driver yelled to us a proposition to see a donkey show. My hunger has top priority right now, sorry honcho. That and the commotion up ahead was too good to pass up.
“I swear if Angel’s is getting raided right now I will murder a hooker.” Oh Josh, what a kidder. On occasion the local law enforcement, if you could call them that, would storm local bars in search for underage drinkers. That’s what the passports were for, to verify we were who we were and to verify that our visas were current. Yeah, that and extortion.
As we got closer, we saw that it was one fool they were attempting to arrest. Attempting, and it looked like there was a bit of struggling. The police were struggling, that is. Curiosity got the better of the two of us so we had to get a closer peek. As it turned out, we knew the fool putting up a fight.
“Yo! That’s Drake’s dumbass trying to fight off those little Thai police!” Josh had a pair of eyes and he knew how to use them. “Dumb motherfucker!”
Since we’ve known him, Drake was never one to use the right side of his brain, or the left side for that matter. When he wasn’t paying for butt he was usually drunk. I had to figure out how he got into this mess.
“Hey man, what’s going on over there?” I talked to the first guy I saw. Turns out he didn’t know a word of English so I got slammed with an earful of Thai. Unfortunately, I don’t know a word of Thai so I had to go through the crowd that was forming and find someone who knew a word of the native tongue. Luckily Angel stepped out from behind the wok and dropped some words of wisdom.
“You friend did the bad thing! He ripped the king.”
“First off, that’s not our fuckin friend,” Josh chimed in with the correction extra quick. “That dirtbag gets whatever comes to him. Who cares about ripping the…?” Fortunately, I was able to smack the taste out of Josh’s mouth before he could finish his sentence with what I assumed to be the word ‘king’.
“Bruh, read a book. It’s like, capital offense to disrespect the king.”
Oh yeah, it was. That on top of fighting off the police was going to land Drake in a world of physical abuse and fish heads.
Angel continued to explain the situation, which unfolded like this: Drake was getting his daily dose of Chang beer and wanted a bit of food. He hopped into a tuk-tuk taxi and arrived at Angel’s. Drake paid the driver and decided that the driver was taking too long to give him his change back so in his infinite wisdom thought to snatch it out of the driver’s hand was a good idea. The driver had a good grip on the money, so a few bills were ripped in half. Since Drake was the foreigner, it was his fault. The police were promptly called to the scene because the driver yelled for them and there were two on every damn block in this city. Now Drake has the drunk strength and isn’t going peacefully. It’s not hard to resist arrest from a couple 5’4 130lb rookies, even if most of them are fairly proficient in Muay Thai. Amateur mistake, Drake.
Drake was able to resist for a bit in his drunken state and being unable to feel pain. Unfortunately for him, they had something perfect for a guy like Drake.
“Yo! He just shitted on himself!”
Josh was right, Drake shit on himself. And he pissed on himself too. I guess it’s true that you lose a lot of your bodily functions when you get hit with a pair of stun probes. Probably more so when you get hit by two pairs from a couple of rookie cops that don’t know how to properly turn them off. This was probably, no, hopefully, the last time we ever had to see that goofy fool again.
“Angel, you still have a bit of tom yum goong, right?” I had to ask.
“I never run out!”
Josh and I enjoyed our soup the best we could while we were sweating bullets, basically acting like what we just saw didn’t just happen. It was hard getting the image of a grown man wearing light tan khaki shorts with a big dirty dookie stain on the back out of our heads. Just a normal day in Pattaya I suppose. The evening will be filled with alcohol and debauchery, but alas, I still didn’t get any work done today, and Josh still didn’t need a job.
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