On Who the fuck did you come here with?

We went to Asiatique on the waterfront of Bangkok’s Chao Praya river. As many times as I’ve been to Bangkok, I rarely see the river. I’ve been on a boat twice. I’ve never taken a water taxi. I’m just not used to rivers and canals being a legit form of transportation, being born and raised in Toronto.

Asiatique was built just a few years ago. I think it used to be a fisherman’s landing; the bones and structure of the main warehouse is still there. It’s mainly a tourist enclave, a gleaming, sparkling marketplace with stalls selling clothes, accessories, massages, bubble tea, ice cream. No street food – weird because that’s where local and tourist interests align.

There’s a ferris wheel and go-karts and a boardwalk where cruise ships drop off Chinese mainlanders who travel in huge groups wearing fanny packs and carrying selfie sticks (I have nothing against selfie sticks, but what’s the point when you’re traveling with others?).

So it’s touristy, but it’s great fun. It reminds me of that amusement park in Karate Kid, the one with the water park and go-karts and carnival games. That scene has bored itself into my memory and stayed there. I would kill to live that scene, when Daniel tries to apologize to Ally but she’s not having any of it and shoots him with that video game gun and then her snarky friend snarks him. That became my ideal date place and probably the reason why I love bring dates to places like CNE and Asiatique.

Right, so I’ve brought maybe 4 girls to Asiatique, beginning with a girl I traveled to Bangkok with a few years ago. As me and Good Girl Local Girl were walking down an aisle towards the restaurant area, I asked her, “When did we first meet here, again?” She looked at me shocked and said we never met there. “Are you sure? I’m sure we did.”

“Ma ti ni gub kai?” Come here with who? Or, Who the fuck did you come here with?

“I don’t know,” I replied, naturally and cool. “I thought it was you. Oh well.”

“Ma ti ni gub kai?”

“Mai roo. Ma ti ni mak mak.” I don’t know. I’ve come here many times. “Bangkrang poo-un, bangkrang pooyeeng, bangkrang poochai…” Sometimes with friends, sometimes girl, sometimes boy…

“Ma ti ni gub kai?!”

This went on all night, her asking me who I came here with, smiling but not really smiling. Bad move. Every time she asked – joking or not – I would feel my independence slipping away. I would feel the noose around my neck tighten. I would give her a look and spite her and think, “I didn’t ask for this. We never agreed to this. You are not allowed to do this.”

We sat at a fancy-ish Italian restaurant. She ordered a Bolognese thin crust pizza and I had the squid ink seafood linguine. A baked spinach and cheese dip appetizer, though it didn’t come with bread or crackers so we just ate it with our forks.

She ordered water and it was Chang. She asked if they had another brand. She’s very particular about which bottled water she drinks, since she works in the industry. She swears she can taste the difference between brands since they use different methods to filtering and purification. Singha was the worst, she claimed, while her company was the best (they white-label water for the big supermarket chains).

The other day, she was feeling the thickness of a plastic water bottle because her company wanted to switch to a thinner, lighter material in order to decrease shipping costs. I love this shit.

She didn’t want to ride the ferris wheel, but she wanted to ride the 5-minute “4D” ride, where you sit in a theater and the chairs move and shake according to the scene on the screen, which was some mining cart thing like in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. More fun that I expected, with sprays of actual water and smoke emanating from the floors. Afterwards, she had to sit down to gain her composure.

“Keed tung.” We were at my condo now, on my couch.

“That means ‘I miss you’ right? How can you miss me, I’m right here.”

“It means I missed you.”

“Then how do you say, “I miss you,” like, right now?”

“Keed tung.”

“Then how do you say, “I’ll miss you,’ like, tomorrow?”

“Keed tung.”

“Thai is stupid.”

“You’re stupid.”

 

On 750 Words in Five Minutes

I have a date tonight with Good Girl Local Girl. It might be the last time I ever see her, but that hasn’t really hit me. Or it has, but I’m just taking it very, very well. I’m good with goodbyes. Does anyone ever say that? I don’t think I’ve heard it before. But there it is: I’m comfortable with never seeing people again.

Not in an awful way, like Good riddance, bitch. It’s just that after traveling for so many years and meeting people on the road — and believe me, when you meet someone on the road and travel with them for one week, you become veritable blood brothers — you eventually split up. You trade Facebook contacts, swap Instagrams and fade abruptly and never see them again.

I might see her again next week. If it were up to me, I’d see her next week, one last time. She was the most consistent local presence during my year in Thailand. Aside from drinking friends. Well, no, even including them. But something might come up and I may have to go see about a girl.

Not just a girl. Might be The Girl. I don’t fucking know, something’s brewing in my fucking head with all that thinking about no longer leaving it up to fate and chance to find love and instead taking a more logical, quantitative approach. Whatever, it’s not a hashed out plan. And anyway, in the end I’ll fly by the seat of my pants. I just can’t even begin to think of how to strategize such a move. So I’ll choose the potential woman by carefully measuring and comparing specifics of personality and history and all of that shit; but I’ll leave actually doing something about it to chance.

Ah, there I go again, trying to get some magic in there. Well, fuck, there has to be some, doesn’t there?

The timing’s all fucked up. But the timing’s always fucked up. But this time, the timing is truly, authentically fucked up, if I have Europe/Toronto/LA/Mexica/Panama/Argentina in my sights for the rest of the year, and she lives in Asia. That’s not a small, Oh, let’s just re-route here and re-plan this and take longer here and cut short there. Look at that fucking itinerary, look at the motherfucker. None of the places are anywhere near Asia, where she lives, where I’ll be leaving in one week.

In one week.

So how do I know to go? I don’t, I don’t fucking know. I’m asking the gods for some sort of sign.

Dude, focus on your date tonight. That’s the thing, too. I can only focus on one girl at a time. Actually, let’s modify this. Well, by modify I mean just completely X the fucking statement out, because it’s not true anymore.

Wow, that’s not true anymore.

In Toronto, I couldn’t date multiple women at once. I liked focusing all of my efforts and scheming (wrong word, asshole) on one girl at a time. Not only did I like it, but I was incapable of doing otherwise. I would completely stress the fuck out, wake up frazzled.

But yeah, that’s over. Or is it? Because, yeah, I’m capable of juggling multiple women at once now, but they’re mostly inconsequential women, aren’t they? I think I mentally closed the doors of future potential on all of them, aside from a small crack for Tall French. I gave her the keys to the doorknob, but have the deadbolt in place so she has to knock, anyway.

So Good Girl Local Girl tonight. Tomorrow for lunch I’m meeting a traveler I met in Taiwan. We were both motorcycling solo and parked at a lookout on a cliff. He had a Same same but different t-shirt on — a popular Thai expression — and so I told him I live in Bangkok. He’s from .. Switzerland? … but works at a hostel in Costa Rica and was presently on his usual 2 month vacation. We traded Facebook contacts because he mentioned going to Eastern Europe in the summer, and I needed contacts in Eastern Europe. Also Costa Rica. Like I said, this is how traveling works: we talked for about 7 minutes before we hopped on our bikes and he went north while I went south. Now we’re friends and he flew into Bangkok and I have a duty to drive all the way to the other side of the city tomorrow to eat with him, and I have no doubt he’ll do the same for me in Croatia, Costa Rica, Switzerland, or wherever.

And then we’ll say goodbye and I’ll forget about him because I’m good with goodbyes.

On Import/Export Girl

This local girl that I went on a date with just messaged and asked if she could see me before I leave Thailand. I assume this is a booty call date, right?

See, I’m good at first dates. Also at second and third and fourth dates. Where I’m not good at is Month 6 and beyond. I don’t know what to do after the Honeymoon stage. I don’t know what to do with my handddssssss. But where I lose the girl the most is before the first date; they simply rebuff all of my efforts to get them onto that first date.

It’s probably because of my unsavory/savory reputation in Toronto for dating frequently. I say “unsavory/savory” because while people say I date often (bad thing), it gives me social proof so that more women are willing to date me (good thing). “What is it about this guy that I’m not seeing, I’m going to go find out…”

Jesus fuck, what am I talking about? Get back to the local girl!

So I met this local girl on Tinder. Let’s call her Import/Export, because that’s what she does. She’s the second girl I ever met off Tinder, the first being a transsexual. So I suppose he didn’t count and Import/Export is the first girl I ever met off of Tinder.

We met at Shades of Retro, in the hip, rich, trendy Thonglor neighborhood. It was Thursday night and although the bar was empty, the traffic there was horrendous so we were both late. I arrived first, grabbed a pint of Asahi and sat on a couch in the back. The furniture was mismatched – retro and all – so I chose the seating arrangement most conducive to conversation: couches close together, cozy lighting and a low coffee table (I detest high coffee tables that make me feel small).

Listen: I authentically like new people. I like finding out what they do and digging into their industry. And when you’re authentically interested in people, I think you give out a certain energy that makes them feel closer to you, even trust you. It’s probably what serial killers do. So I’m like a serial killer but instead of killing them, I pay for their drinks and friendzone them so I have someone to eat ramen with sometimes.

So we talked about importing and exporting and how she sorts the logistics for shipping and warehousing for certain large and famous restaurants in Bangkok. I contributed to the conversation with my own experience of manufacturing and shipping pantyhose from China. Dropped words like “LCL” and “manifest” and she tilted her head 35 degrees this way and then that way and and looked at me curiously, fascinatingly, like when you say a dog’s name in a different tone and it’s unsure if you’re calling it or not, but excited all the same.

She is what sexy is to me now: Imp/Exp is an older woman – 34 years old – with a great career and a balanced, simple daily routine consisting of work, yoga and wine. She travels alone to places like Maldives and Budapest and hits the gym at least 4 days a week. She just bought a condo and her parents are real estate developers. She has a car, a souped-up Civic (no, it was something else…) with all-leather interior and a rear-view cam. This is what attracts me, now. Good Girl Local Girl is young and arguably hotter, but the other day I yawned six times around her, and all six times she stuck her finger in my mouth and giggled. Jesus fucking Christ.

I switched to a Mojito and she wondered if she should drink anymore since she drove. I told her to be careful, because you have to have to have to say that. Then I said it’s a 2-minute drive, max, and that she should try to Old Fashioned since she doesn’t like sweet drinks.

We drank and talked and her face kept changing shape, from pretty to stunning to average and then back to pretty. Every inch that she moved in the light, she became a new person. Most of them were cute, anyway, so I switched from staring at her face to staring at the bottom of my glass.

Shades of Retro was closing early – dead Thursday night – so we headed to Bad Motel, a joint I like because of the outdoor patio in the back that reminds me of an actual hotel in Toronto (The Rex). We decided to drive her car and she tossed me the keys after I told her I had my license. I took them and started her tricked-out Honda Civic, then did a 16-point turn to get out of the tight parallel parking spot she scored in an adjacent alleyway. As I drove the 500 meters to Bad Motel, I looked over at her in the passenger seat and Import/Export sat there with her hand covering her mouth, unblinking, completely horrified that I was going to kill us.

I didn’t kill us.

At Bad Motel, we both stuck to Mojitos. I kept telling her that she was beautiful, because she was. I hoped I wasn’t saying it in a creepy way, because to say that straight in Toronto would get you a look, right? But in Bangkok, where English words are words to literally describe things without any subtext, saying, “You look really beautiful,” means just that. “You are handsome, too,” she replied, and I immediately thought that she was full of shit. Like you don’t have to come back with anything. Just be cool and nod and say thanks, shit.

We were talking about movies and prom came up. I asked if she ever went to prom and she said there’s no such thing in Thailand.

“But you know what prom is, right?” I asked while making Tom Cruise Scientology eyes at her (Google it).

“Yes, from movies,” she said.

“So you never got to go? Did you have any dances at all? How did you ever learn to slow dance, then?”

“I don’t know how to slow dance,” she said, looking down her glass. “I never slow danced.”

“Oh, shit. Let’s go.” A plan formulated in my head.

We went to her car and slow danced in the parking lot, her AUX cable plugged into my iPhone. My 90’s playlist full of Jodeci and PMDawn came from her speakers and out the driver’s side window, where I was getting us into position. First I had my right hand on her waist and my left holding her hand, but then I decided to start from the beginning, from when we were in 7th grade, 11 years old, and riddled with anxiety and sweat. It’s not really slow dancing as it is hugging and tracing your feet along an invisible circle.

She was wearing a fitted black dress, sleeveless, I think cut right above the knee. She couldn’t – or wouldn’t – move her legs apart to step in the circle pattern more effectively, so we did a weird swaying-on-the-spot thing. Her face was buried into my shoulder, tightly, like she was hiding her face. Was she happy? Terrified? She was shaking.

Terrified, she was terrified. She wasn’t used to this kind of public fuckery. Thais do that, they scram when it comes to anything PDA. The presence of a security guard will ruin a first kiss. Nothing was as romantic as I thought it would be – her anxious, me sweaty, the parking lot bright, the traffic loud – as I visualized it in my mind’s eye.

She was happy to stop. She smiled, laughed a little. We hugged goodbye and she climbed into her car, gave me back my iPhone and plugged hers in. We didn’t kiss and I walked to the main street on the other side of the parking lot to catch a taxi.

On Failing Soul Mates

First of all, I’m using the word marriage for lack of a better word. I have no care for marriage in its proper usage. I tend to dislike all man-made dogma. I think that something happened early in my life to make me distrust doctrine; like I was somehow betrayed by all of mankind, but nothing comes to mind. I especially dislike borders and visas and immigration officials, and take it personally that these stupid fucking arbitrary lines prevent me from freely roaming the earth.

So when I use the word marriage, soulmate, The One, etc., I suppose I’m talking about the concept behind it: the finding of an eternal mate; the (I guess) monogamy; the partnership. Not the papers or the wedding or the rings or the adopting of the last name. Whatever, you know. Everyone knows, it’s not hard to grasp.

Anyway.

This whole thing, my entire plan to meet a wife without planning to meet a wife… I’ve failed, haven’t I? This method of running around and bumping heads with random women – well, I suppose bumping heads with pretty women; let’s be honest here, that’s the first thing I notice.

So this method of running around and bumping heads with random pretty women and then dating them to see if something long-term can grow from our chance meeting – it’s been a failure. It’s been 36 years. I’ve been actively dating for the past 20 of those years, and was really, really good at it in the past 10 (good at getting, not at keeping).

Though I keep using the word failure, goddamn, do I mean it in the best way possible. This failure has brought me adventure and love and romance through several countries on multiple continents across oceans. I loved every goddamn one of those failures, from the enormous, sweeping, multi-year relationships to the sudden ones that transpired in a single night in Nha Trang.

What I mean is, looking at the ultimate objective – marriage, soulmate, The One, etc. – if I were to look at this as a quantitative experiment, then this would be where I pull the plug and light the laboratory on fire for the insurance money, right?

It’s because I keep waiting for that one fucking girl to walk into the room and bowl me over. The one that I’ll look at and think, “Oh, I could marry her,” just based on her gaze, her wardrobe, her good girl hairstyle that makes me think she’ll be a good mother. The thing is, this shit happens every day. It’s happened a thousand times in my life and most of them inconsequentially left the room while I went ahead and dated a handful of them. So what I’ve been waiting for has already been happening.

What else is there? What else do I need?

There are probably half a dozen women in my life right now that I could marry and make it work with. I could see the whole thing, the babies, the house, the stable job (ugh). Family parties during the holidays and road trips to Florida. Not because we’re soulmates but because we’re perfectly, thoroughly compatible with each other on all of the crucial levels that you need to be compatible on. These are beautiful, powerful, intelligent women who exercise for fun, are nice to waitresses and have a generally happy demeanor in life.

I mean, if I were to meet any of them for the first time tomorrow, the sparks and butterflies would be there. I would be straight up gushing.

But the reasons I don’t – I think, because this isn’t a hashed out theory yet, it’s falling out of my brain right now – is because I’ve met them already. I know them already. They don’t fit the profile of my Dream Girl because we didn’t do that thing where they walked into the room and we went from nervous banter in the corner to dating to engagement to marriage in one sweeping motion on a singular timeline.

There was a hiccup here or there – maybe I went away, maybe her ex returned – and for some reason our dating was interrupted and it just never got back on track and so I discounted them as Not The One.

But that’s insane. Life’s not so organized, so neat and tidy, and I’ve always championed that line of thought. I’m the fucking authority on living a not-so-tidy life. Except when it comes to this, the marriage, soulmate, The One, etc., suddenly I need it to be a John Cusack flick.

So my entire issue has been this, that I wanted the experience more than I wanted the woman.

Jesus Christ, did I just seriously put together this enormous piece of the puzzle at 8am on a Tuesday morning killing time at the gym and waiting for the squat rack to open up?

On Good Girl Local Girl: The Origin (Part 4)

Her webcam cut off and I stared wide-eyed with my mouth open and air leaking out from my throat. My fingers were frozen in place on the keyboard. Did she really just “No no no no” when she found out my age, abruptly shut everything down and scram? Did she just do that?

No, she didn’t. And thank god she didn’t because that’s the shit that would give me a complex for the rest of my life. These tiny moments of mortification shape my future self more than huge events like break-ups of years-long relationships (I have a theory that it’s because the lengthier the relationship, the more confident you are that you’re making the right decision. It’s horrible and uncomfortable and icky to think that it’s harder to break up at 3-months than 3 years, but life doesn’t care to be horrible and uncomfortable and icky.)

She messaged me something about her mother walking into her living room and so had to wrap it up. Because I’m old as fuck.

Later, I found out that this was how she liked to answer questions. The repeated no’s weren’t to exaggerate the negative but just a stylistic accent to her speech.”

“Do you think it’s going to rain?”

“No no no no no no no no no no. No no no no no no. Nooooooo no no no no.”

“Okay, Jesus fucking Christ.”

We didn’t meet in person for another month. It was a Sunday and I was coming back from a weekend in Ho Chi Minh. But my weekend wasn’t over: I had visitors in town from Toronto, so I had to race from the airport to my hotel to the Sukhumvit neighborhood where they were staying. I took them to moo kata, a super local Thai-style bbq joint that’s all-you-can-eat for $6. Damn good food at a damn good price, and you’re surrounded by locals – motorcycle taxi drivers, salon workers – just getting their hands dirty and grubbing in an outdoor restaurant on the side of a main thoroughfare.

Good Girl Local Girl messaged me, telling me she was going to Khao San Road that night with her friends. I was exhausted and about to opt out but my friends – being in vacation sleep-when-we’re-dead mode – convinced me to go.

Wait. This is going to be boring.

I went home, put on blue jeans, a black t-shirt and my floppy beanie, then jumped in a taxi for Khao San Road, Bangkok’s infamous backpacking district that I hadn’t been to in a half-decade. Because why would I? It’s for foreigners – young, cheap, dirty, poor foreigners – who just want to party with other young, cheap, dirty, poor foreigners. I get it if they just want cheap digs in order to further their descent into local culture, but that street’s all McDonald’s and Burger Kings and the drunken fratboy types from every fucking city in the world, all congregating to see who can douche out the loudest on this one small crowded street.

She was there with her two friends at one of the loud bars, with a tower of beer. She was wearing a black halter dress that was way overdressed for this joint. But she was stunning. It’s because she looks Chinese or Korean, and sticks out when sitting in a bar full of dark-skinned Thais and blond Scandinavians. She might’ve had a flower over her ear.

Our conversation was very easy. I’m good on first dates, plying questions on the woman and keeping everything smooth, but apparently she was as well. There was no nervous energy, no awkward moves. The four of us talked easy, while her two friends – a very shy girl and a gay boy – poked and prodded at me, trying to figure out who I was.

It was nearing 2am so walked off Khao San Road and onto Rambuttri, where there were more bars but less noise. It used to be a tree-lined alternative to Khao San Road, for people who wanted to be within spitting distance of the circus but not hear it while trying to sleep, but these days it’s just more of the same. We sat at a streetside bar and I ordered a gin on the rocks. No one else ordered anything so I realized we were there for me. So I wrapped things up, chugged the glass and we left. She insisted on driving me home, probably an hour detour out of her way. Her friend was visibly irritated but sat in the backseat quietly, clearly giving power to the alpha of the group – her.

On Exes Thinking I’m Suicidal Or Some Shit

An ex-girlfriend just emailed me with this:

Subject: Drunk
Sorry. I want you to be happy.

Attached to the email was a photo, all text, in a typewriter font designed to look old:

“’It’s been an ugly day,’ she said. ‘Tell me something beautiful?’
And he said her name.”

Completely unprompted email. The subject line sort of explains why she hit send. But what it doesn’t explain is what she’s apologizing for and why on earth she thinks I’m sad enough to warrant an unprompted email.

It’s not just this ex. Many of my exes think this. They think I’m wandering the world, lost and unfulfilled, moping around like Charlie fucking Brown. I mean, it’s not all puppy dogs and rainbows, day in and day out (well…) but I’m not so morose and miserable that people out there need to be feeling sorry for me.

In fact, I’d say out of everyone I know – and of course this is biased, it has to be – I think I appreciate life the most. I’m at the top of that heap, of people who know how to live, or more apt, know that we’re going to fucking diieeeeeee. Anyyyy second nowwwwww. I absolutely acknowledge the auspicious life I live and feel grateful for it. And I was the same when I lived in Toronto. Maybe I longed for and despised things more outwardly than other people, but I don’t think I was sad for it. I don’t think I’d fall into a pit of despair and have to climb my way out with stimulants and alcohol. I was never not happy.

I don’t really have any bad days. I have bad moments and bad hours and bad things happen to me. But nothing ruins the entire day. Maybe the afternoon? Or nothing has in awhile, anyway. Maybe I’m good at compartmentalizing (no, scratch that – I’m fucking excellent at compartmentalizing). Maybe I’m good at ignoring bad, icky, uncomfortable thoughts (that too). Or maybe I’m just a fucking happy motherfucker that doesn’t need fucking emails like these.

I don’t really get stressed, either. It’s been years since I’ve walked into a situation that I couldn’t physically or mentally walk right back out of (ironically, all involving ex-girlfriends). I often create stress for myself, but that’s really just melodrama, shit that I’d conceived out of sheer boredom (“Oh no, this girl likes me too much so I have to runnnnnn awwaaaaaayyy!”).

(Wait – I think all of this is the result of 3 years of practicing Transcendental Meditation. It’s one of those things that I do every day without seeing any concrete results. Like taking expensive multi-vitamins. You just do these things on a daily basis and have faith that they’re working their magic and that in years you’ll reap the benefits. You must blindly focus on the doing, not the results, or you’ll give up years too early.)

Anyway, it’s probably my fault. Whenever I would talk to these certain exes I would be in a certain mood. I would be melancholy or some shit, longing for the past because the past always feels “figured out” because everything seems clear in retrospect. So I would email them and say, “Remember when? What if we had? And by now we could be?” So fine, to them I’m sullen.

But there’s a line between longing and regret, and I’ve never crossed it. I’ve never regretted anything in my life. It’s just impossible to. Basically, if I regretted something I did yesterday, then all of today would be invalidated. I can’t live with that shit. That’s how you live a lie, when you think you should’ve went left instead of right 10 years ago. I mean, you’re admitting you’re on the wrong path – not a different path, not an alternative path – the wrong path. Just kill yourself, you stupid fuck.

Anyway.

That copy on the attached image is bothersome. It just irks me. I imagine in real life a girlfriend approaching me, somber with wet eyes and bad posture, soaking wet from the rain, standing on my porch with mascara running down her cheek. Her dog just died and she just got let go from her job.

“Tell me something beautiful.”

“Rebecca.”

“HEEEEeeeeeee!!! :*) <3<3 ^^”

Fuck, really? I’d be like, “This fucking girl, that’s all it takes? Does she not take the world seriously? Does she not see the dire straits of her life? Grow up.”

(And then I would runnnnn awwaaaaaayyy!)

Also, who’s the girl? Normally, she would be the girl and I would be the boy in this scenario. But the girl is the sad one in this story, and the ex-girlfriend is inferring that I’m sad, so does that make me the girl? Does that make me the girl that wants to hear her name? Is that what this is about?

I can kind of see the poetry in it, the “ugly day,” “beautiful,” “her name,” and how all is well in the world, because someone thinks she is beautiful and it is the boy that she is in love with. There’s just something clunky about it all. Doesn’t she know he thinks she’s beautiful? Or if she just needs to hear something, then wouldn’t “I love you,” be more appropriate? I mean, just a name? A fucking name? A random sound assigned to a random person at birth in order to get that person’s attention?

Ugh. I’m getting more irritated just thinking about this fucking quote.

See? Now I’m not happy. Now would be the perfect time to send a, Sorry. I want you to be happy email. Now there’s really something to be sorry about.

On Good Girl Local Girl: The Origin (Part 3)

The next time I saw her was on Tinder.

By now it was September and I’d been living in Bangkok for more than a month. I had an apartment, school to attend, a daily routine, a growing social circle and a driver’s license. Now I needed someone to date.

This time I found her on Tinder. I flicked left, I flicked right, and then I landed on Good Girl Local Girl’s profile. I flicked right and we were a match.

“Hi. I remember you. You were on Ko Pha Ngan when I was on Ko Samui.”

“Oh yeah! Hi!”

“I moved to Bangkok now.”

“Add me to LINE.”

She immediately wanted to switch off of the dating app for instant messaging. Good sign. I didn’t scare her off before. I wasn’t too old or unattractive or dull or the hundreds of other reasons that were haunting me. It must’ve just been the distance. The geography. Why would she waste time with a boy not even in her city? Now that we were in the same city, things progressed.

I think I asked her to meet up early in our correspondence, and I think she rejected me (or else, why wouldn’t we have?). I felt she needed more time, and so our dynamic turned into her being my virtual Thai tutor, the person I’d bounce language and cultural questions off of. We would chat throughout the day, every day, but we were nothing but pen pals. Platonic, flaccid, neutered, impotent, friendly pen pals.

It was a fine arrangement. We sent each other photos of what we were eating. I sent photos of surfing in Bali. She sent me photos of her friend’s new baby. By this time, I was meeting girls at clubs, at school, through my growing circle of local friends, so she was put on the backburner, anyway. She was no longer my target, but just a fun, cool, familiar presence that would appear only when I opened my LINE app.

So the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, and her trust and comfort in me grew since I wasn’t hitting on her, since I kept our dynamic warm and friendly. I think that this is what she needed: a few months to make sure I wasn’t a lurch. I think local girls distrust us foreigners as much as we distrust local girls. We think they’re out for our money; they think we’re out for casual sex. So I think that that was what she was doing: feeling me out, biding her time, testing my patience.

One night, while watching the next episode of Parks & Rec on Netflix, my phone started beeping. It was a video call request.

Did you know that that’s what kids do these days? They just go and request a video call session with each other, unprompted! The same way my generation used to phone each other in high school. I’ve always hated the phone and the way it required your undivided attention. The way you had to sit there and talk to one single person and do only one thing while staring out the window or doodling on a post-it note. Fucking hated that fucking thing, and I was ecstatic when it all moved to impersonal text messaging where you could juggle 80 conversations while doing your taxes and watching Parks & Rec on Netflix. You could think through your responses, edit your words. Send emoticons and type diplomatic LOL’s without really laughing out loud or at all.

Also, no one requires your undivided attention anymore. No one says anything that worth it that you have to see their fucking face move in real-time.

I declined her request, told her to give me two minutes, and then ran around putting on a decent outfit and doing my hair. I wouldn’t usually care, but this was our first meeting and first impressions count. (Second impressions count, too, but that’s when you dress shitty on purpose to show you don’t give a shit unlike that asshole she saw in the first impression.)

I looked at myself in the mirrored video. I just look atrocious on these things. The lighting’s always shit, the pixelation always seems to land on and emphasize my already-gigantic nose. I always look blue-gray as if the camera doesn’t know how to balance my dark skin with my surroundings. A moppy-haired, corpse-coloured, big-nosed asshole.

It was a nerve-wracking conversation and I giggled more that I should have. I think I was also whispering everything, thinking everyone in my building could hear my lame musings. When she couldn’t hear me, I would whisper louder. You know what I mean. Man, I just wasn’t used to this like she was. She was clearly in the driver’s seat. She sat back on her couch and rested the phone on her coffee table – an experienced move as she could sit back at a comfortable distance where the camera wouldn’t distort her face shape like it was doing to mine.

“How old are you, again?”

Sam-sip ha. Thirty five.”

“No.”

“What?”

“No no no no no no no no.”

Oh Jesus Christ, she forgot my age and found out I’m 13 years old and was rejecting me multiple times in a string of No’s.

“No, just wait, just listen, we just need to meet…”

“No no no no no no…”

“…and you’ll see I’m not really 35, ha ha ha, I mean I act….”

“…no no no no no…”

“Look, we just need to…”

“…no no no no.”

The connection cut out and her face disappeared.

On Good Girl Local Girl: The Origin (Part 2)

I met Good Girl Local Girl online.

During the first month of living abroad, I moved into a condo on Ko Samui, an island in the Bay of Thailand. It’s among my favourite places in the world, so much so that I’ve brought multiple girlfriends from Toronto there.

It’s hard to meet friends in touristy cities. Most of the foreigners were tourists, hopping on-and-off the island a weekend at a time and spending their days drinking overpriced, sugary drinks on the beach. Alternatively, there’s the haggard Brits and Aussies who’ve retired there – a touch more interesting than the frat boys, but just as cagey and unpredictable. They sit on red stools at open-air bars surrounded by prostitutes, living the last of their years in a paradise that satisfies them with sex and good weather. Not a bad way to go.

The locals – the ones who speak English, anyway – mostly work in tourism, or on tourists. Their goal is to separate them from their money as quickly as possible. So they see us as money, walking ATMs, and that’s an impossible wall to break down for something so unprofitable as friendship. They’re just not interested.

So I dabbled in dating websites and apps. I would meet women and then befriend them. Sort of like reverse-date-rape, I guess. Like we would ostensibly go out on a date but then the night would end with them crying on my shoulder about the ex-boyfriend that they’re still in love with.

I saw Good Girl Local Girl’s photo (OKCupid?) and liked her immediately. She looked more Chinese than Thai (fair-skinned; small eyes) and her hair was long and shiny and smooth. Hair’s usually not a big thing, but in this climate where most people have a frizzy, unkempt ‘do, girls who use conditioner stick out. So her hair was long and shiny and smooth and for once in my life this was crucial.

We began messaging. She was on an adjacent island – Ko Pha Ngan – for the Full Moon Party. She wondered if we met the other night and I told her we definitely did not, as I’m of the age to love that the Full Moon Party’s happening because then that means my island would be empty and quiet for the day. Oh well, she said.

I picked up just a few cursory facts about her: her name, that she lived “not in Bangkok but one hour north of Bangkok,” that she didn’t swim in the ocean during the daylight hours, where she learned English (“at school, you dummy.”)

We messaged back and forth for two days. Then she left, took a ferry from her island to the mainland and then a 10-hour bus ride back home, one hour north of Bangkok. Then she lost interest in me, because I was just some foreigner a thousand kilometers away, which might as well be 10,000km, which might as well be Canada. She left my last message hanging and that was it for me, because I can’t double tap.

Me: “How are you?”
Me: “Hey, how’ve you been?”
Me: “So, how are you?”

I’d rather die.

Of course, that’s exactly the moment that I thought she could be The One. I stared achingly at her photos, at her good girl smile and fair skin and Pantene Pro-V hair. God, she was so pretty. Not sexy or sultry or intimidating – just a very pretty girl with a big, megawatt smile and a bright face and happy eyes making silly poses on rope swings and boat docks. The girl next door who looks even better in her candid photos where she’s distracted and looking into the wind or eating noodles while flipping her hair.

I used to do this thing when I was in high school: I would lie on my bed with my face in my pillow and daydream and create scenarios and devise timelines and then implore the gods to give me just this one girl – whoever it was. I would plead just for the chance to talk with a girl like this (or that). I would bargain and say, “That’s it, that’s all I want, that’s all I’ll ever ask you for.” Then I would become angry and scream at the walls at how unfair life was, how good men like me would never end up with a woman so extraordinary.

Then for the next fifteen years, I became a dick and had to get the girls myself. Thanks for nothing, gods.

But this girl, Good Girl Local Girl, I just felt so helpless. I needed help. I needed cosmic help. She was just so far and so young and I had nothing to put on the table, nothing to add to her life. She gave me a complex: Am I too old? How many men is she messaging? Is she a hooker? Does she get my jokes? Does she think I’m stupid? Does she hate my hair? So I asked the gods of fate to deliver me just this one girl – just this one last time – and that would be it, I would be finished with all the fuckery, I would dedicate my life to her happiness and create babies and respect elders and stop littering. I would pick a city and buy a house and move her parents in with us. I would go to temple every Sunday. I would come home for dinner every night.

But what could I do? She went home and stopped answering me. I didn’t forget about her, but I pushed her from my mind. Chalked her up as a loss. There was nothing I could do; she lived in Bangkok and I lived on Ko Samui.

But then I moved to Bangkok.

 

On Numbeo

I spent 5 hours today on Numbeo.com, trying to find a suitable city to live in. That’s how stupidly amazing my life has become, that doing something like this was a chore.

Leave it to me to leave Bangkok once my life began to settle down here. Once I began to have a close network of friends and girls to date and bars to attend and birthday party invites. Half of me doesn’t want to leave, so the other half of me is forcing that first half to leave. The other half that’s forcing doesn’t necessarily want to leave either, but his job is to make sure the other half doesn’t become complacent.

You know what this is, this is all an excuse to not write the book, the book that I’ve been trying to write for five years now. It’s just up there, simmering in my brain, but I’m too scared to spurt it out. Or when I begin to, I get anxious and nervous and either drink myself into a stupor or hop onto GoDaddy and register a domain and start up another new company.

That’s where the whole panty hose thing came about. I had a girlfriend, I had money. What else was there to do with my life but finally do what was most important to me? Nope, fuck that, let’s go to China and manufacture pantyhose.

I don’t mind this, though, this uber-procrastinating personality of mine. At least I’m getting shit done, right? Real shit. I’m not spending my time napping or watching Netflix (well…) but I’m enrolling in school, going on dates, drinking myself into oblivion – all of which can be chalked up to productivity or gaining life experience.

Anyway.

So I was on Numbeo.com, trying to find a new home by comparing cost of living to Bangkok. Bangkok, aside from food (average $1.50 meals), isn’t the cheap, developing-world city that it used to be. Well, if you lived by local standards, perhaps. But that’s why you can’t believe these cost-of-living websites – they list local standards, where the average cost to live in Bangkok falls somewhere between $1000 and $2000 (for baller). Shit, really? Because I’m averaging $3000. Sometimes $4000. Last month was $6000 because I was on the road paying for nightly hotels instead of long-term rent.

That’s also the problem with the Digital Nomad movement and the bullshit that people spew. Ostensibly, the movement is about working from anywhere. Starting your own business while in a different city. “Bangkok’s only $700 per month! Chiang Mai is even less!” But are these people living in shacks on stilts next to an open sewer? Are they stealing satellite TV and shitting in a hole out back? Do they really not give a fuck about creature comforts because all they do anyway is crush it at the neighborhood Starbucks where they have free wifi (at $5/coffee/hour, anyway). Nah, can’t be. It’s all just hopes and dreams.

(Or I don’t know, maybe I’m doing it all wrong. I’m on the older side of the age scale now, and so I probably took the conservative approach of having a few clients before I left. Maybe people out here are clearing 5 figure months doing Affiliate Marketing? I just haven’t personally met any, or any that are doing better than me anyhow.)

So I’m looking at Prague, but only for the summer months. My plan of Toronto and LA are still in place, but now I’m thinking they’ll kill my budget. Sure, I could work more – but I could do a lot of fucking things in life. So after a quick jaunt to Toronto and LA, perhaps Mexico, Playa del Carmen, where my old schoolmate has a beach club and the prices are – Numbeo.com – cheaper than Bangkok. Then perhaps Nicaragua and some other Central American countries. I’m no longer sure about Buenos Aires. The prices are steep there, if the Internet is to be trusted (and it is). What’s up, I thought their economy was in the shitter? I thought it was $1000 to rent a tricked-out pad in the center? I need to be on the ground and find out for myself.

You know what, I want a child and a dog at the same time. A baby and an old dog. I want that sort of positive interaction in my life, y’know? You watch all of these videos and the dog automatically gets it. It gets that it’s a dainty, fragile baby and gently plays with it. Amazing.

 

On Good Girl Local Girl (Part 1)

This week is what I love about Bangkok. No parties, no visitors, no drinking. I would awake at 7am, hit the gym, drive to Chinatown to my TCM guy (Traditional Chinese Medicine). Then eat lunch, put in 6 hours of work (it’s deadline week), find dinner, watch a few Silicon Valley episodes and then sleep. One night I got a massage, another I took a bath. I messaged friends to announce that I’m back and that we should meet up, but then didn’t follow-up. I like this mundane shit. This is real living. If you want to like your life, this is the pedestrian shit you’d better be appreciating.

Sometimes I forget how young Good Girl Local Girl is, who also needs another nickname, but who cares. It’s perfectly descriptive of who she is, unless I go with Weirdly-shaves-her-vagina-but-not-her-legs. Not shaves completely, but maintains. Like she knows what she’s doing down there – how to keep everything neat and tidy – so she must know that bare legs is a necessity in the western world.

But there I go again: she might know this but not give a shit because she’s not in the fucking western world, I’m in her eastern world.

She turned 24 less than a month ago when I was somewhere between Taiwan and the Philippines. I messaged her with Happy Birthday! and she said something sullen about being lonely and having nobody (she does this often and I don’t know if it’s true but in the meantime, I refuse to believe it).

We made plans to eat Mexican food and then watch Jurassic World, whose launch is getting the full treatment in Bangkok. The marketing is insane, taking over the entire in and outside of the BTS train. She was excited to watch it, though overly so – how many people of her age care about the Jurassic Park franchise? It’s a huge fucking thing for my generation because it was the first film to truly blow our minds with CGI. But for her, I thought it’d be normal, sub-par. Maybe even too antiquated a plot written to delight children and parents with its 1980s family-fun sensibilities and PG rating.

“I was 14 when I saw the first one in the theatre. It totally shocked me, that scene where they’re in the jeep and drive into the field and that huge brontosaurus is there and they play the theme song…” That theme song, you know? When movies had composers, even the small, young-adult dramas like St. Elmo’s Fire.

“I was one,” she said.

“You were one what”

“I was one year old.”

“You can say you were just, ‘one years old’ even though it doesn’t makes sense. Or just say, ‘a year old.’” We did this thing where we taught each other the nuances of our respective languages.

“Okay.”

“Holy shit, you were one years old?” I got the point.

“That was the first movie I remember watching.”

“My first movie was Ghostbusters.”

“What’s Ghostbusters?”

“You don’t know Ghostbusters?”

“No. Because I was minus-10 years old then. Ha ha ha!” And she would laugh at how old I am. She’s very smart. Foreigners make a mistake of speaking to locals like children, just because they don’t speak fluent English. But it’s surprising how much they comprehend. They’re not idiots, they just don’t have as many words as us. If you give them the benefit of the doubt and speak in your regular voice, at regular speed in your regular cadence, they’ll pick up enough of it to get your jokes. I mean, we all watched Friends growing up.

I bought tickets online – IMAX, 3D on a special ‘couples couch’ for 1200THB. We met at Siam Paragon, outside the H&M on the 3rd floor. There was some weird, long-haired, lanky white guy who I could’ve sworn was following me throughout the mall, from the Paragon Department store’s headphone section to the business aisle of the Kinokuniya bookstore on the other side of the floor. That’s a weird path that I thought was too coincidental and so I pointed him out to her. “He’s not even looking at you.”

She was wearing a new dress – I know all of her outfits already – a cherry red dress with black trim that was transparent from the upper thighs down. She work black shorts underneath. Her hair was extra straight, super long. She had a frenetic energy and sweaty palms.

“What’s up with you, you’re so energetic. Jai yen yen, man.” I told her to calm down, in Thai. Cool your heart.

“I’m happy to have you backkkkkk!” Then she playfully bit my ear, but as usual, bit it too hard.

Fuck that movie. Why did the raptor’s need to turn good at the end? Chris Pratt caressed its face and suddenly it wanted to attack the giant raptor alpha? Damn wrong lesson to teach. Kids need to know that animals are assholes because they’re animals, regardless of the bond they have with their captor. How do you explain what happened to Roy of Siegfried and Roy? Or Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin? You can’t have kids caressing these dangerous creatures that they want to befriend, whether it’s manta rays or squirrels or leashed dogs or immigrant cab drivers.