Mad Dogs And Farangs

Several hot seasons ago I met Jamie Parker at a bar on Soi Concrete. I wasn’t going to my old local. The owner had stiffed Nick Von Reiter for $5000. I had fought him on Soi 6, actually the brawl was two punches with the keys in my fist. At my age there is no fighting fair.

Jamie looked ten years younger. He was recovering from his affair with the Ice queen Ort. New teeth and the furrows in his forehead had been smoothed out like 5-star hotel sheets. I was a little jealous.

“Looks like you’re ready to apply for a gigolo position on Palm Beach.”

“Botox. A full body dip. Breathed through my nostrils. Tightened my skin like a drum. Teeth too.” The only sign of his age were his eyes. Jamie had seen a lot in his 50 plus years. The doctors had no cure for too much life.

“I’m staying with the old body.”

“Are you sure?” Jamie pinched the loose flesh under my jaw. “They can get rid of that chicken gullet for $500. Then the two of us can hit on all the old board at the Leopard Lounge.”

“You know about the Leopard Lounge?” The bar in the Chesterfield Hotel was infamously renown for heiresses seeking hot men in their 50s.

“A little bit of luck and you and I could be living in the lap of luxury.”

“Not the right season.” Palm Beach swung between Xmas and Easter. After that the rich fled the heat.

“And this is the right season here?” The temperature hadn’t dropped under 90 since Songkran. “Damn, it’s hot.”

“Lorn mak.” Pattaya has been baked by the seasonal heat wave. “I think it’s hotter than last year.”

“Me too, but check out that fat Teabag across the street.”

“He seems fine with it.” The Brit was about 55. Tattooed like a druid, 5-5 and weighing about 14 stone which is a XXXXL in the USA. Bare-headed and no shirt. Skin burnt to a tender red. I was wearing a full-length shirt and a cowboy hat. Long pants too. Standing in the shade we ordered two beers from the PIM bar.

“Yeah, mad dogs and Englishmen. Only ones that can take this heat.

“You know this isn’t really hot.”

“Up in Isaan it gets hotter.”

“Cambodia is a frying pan this time of year.” My friend Nick and I had spent last Songkran in Phnom Penh. Both of us would have suffered from water depletion if it wasn’t for a steady replenishing our liquids with Khang beer. (7-11% alcohol).

“What about the East Village in July?”

“Worst is Needles, California in August. I got off a bus there and smacked by a wall of heat. The thermometer inside the Dairy Queen said 135. didn’t have any money and had to hitchhike out of there. Old couple heading to Lake Havesu saved my life.” I can remember a cold glass of lemonade. The old man wasn’t scared of madmen on the highway because his wife had a gun. A Colt 45.

“What year was that?”

“1974.”

“You were a hippie then, right?”

“I had long hair.” At least I listened to the Jefferson Airplane and Iggy Pop, instead of the Dead.

“Here come some more mad Englishmen.”

A trio of skinhead beer-drinkers on motor scooters. Bare-chested to the tropical sun. Sometimes Pattaya seems like the Millwall hooligans have a training center on Soi Bukhao.

“They’re all early melanoma cases.” I used sunblock 50 on my face, which had vanished the black circles under my eyes. “Madmen. I was stranded in Penang once and wandered into the old English graveyard crammed with Brits struck down by the heat.”

“No one sane should be out in the heat this time of day.” I was melting like the Wicked Witch of the West.

“What about us?” Jamie was no hypocrite.

“Let’s go up to Maggie’s for a cold one.”

Jamie was primed for a pint.

Me too.

Cold beer is the only way to go to avoid the madness of Englishmen. We were only a little bah or crazed by the sun. Back in the 70s hippies went to the California Welfare Bureau to get certified mad to collect insane status checks from the state. I don’t think Cally offers that service anymore, but if the State does, California here I come.

The sun has got me again.

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