Bangkok has a lot of gold palaces and whatever but what you see the most of in the city is 40 year-old British men drinking beer at 10 am. They have pierced eyebrows and bulletproof leather skin and Man Utd jerseys from 2001. This is what a man looks like when he stays single. I’m sitting among these dinosaurs having my brunch.
The other tables in the place are taken up by dour middle-aged white couples. They’re on mimosas and not talking to each other. They chose the marriage option of the Would You Rather (Lonely & Single or Miserable & Married) we all must face when the party is over. They’ve burned through the passion and now they’re in Bangkok on a crisis vacation to Make It Work. Everyone must eventually play this Would You Rather, except for me. I decided a while ago that I wouldn’t get old.
Except I got old anyway. I was in Bangkok a long time ago, when I was 22 and still immortal. Now there are a bunch of new 22 year-olds here. They flew to this hemisphere on a rocket of privilege and crashed it on a Thai beach, like I did. They won’t remember Bangkok because they’ll drink too much while they’re here, like I did. The boys are still in the pre-sleeves stage of their lives and smash Chang bottles on the cobblestones. The girls can be overheard saying things like “I love traveling.”
Interesting. You like to not go to work and go visit exotic places? Tell me some of your other surprising opinions.
Above my head the new king’s poster shimmers in the gas fumes. He was recently forced to grow up and accept some responsibility. As a 29 year-old child, I cannot yet relate to such a concept. The new king seems vaguely annoyed with the task of monarchy. For his official portrait he had to pose with a sword and wear a bejeweled gold coat and it’s way too hot in Thailand for coats.
As I get up to leave a lizard walks by on the sidewalk, all by himself, just out for a stroll. Huh. Bangkok!
Later when it’s dark I’m in the hotel shotgunning the same GIF to 100 girls on Tinder and getting zero replies. Then I’m out on the trashiest street in the universe where everyone is drinking rum and coke out of beach pails because a cup just doesn’t hold enough. I’m rolling solo but some American soldiers adopt me because I’m tall. Being tall is a superpower. You don’t need to be interesting or have a personality. People will just come up to you, ask if you have to go to like a special shoe store or something. People find that kind of stuff interesting.
Anyway. The boys are a good hang but I decline their invitation to go whoring in Patpong. They say Don’t worry about money bro. It’s courtesy of the American taxpayer. I decline again and off they go to find a mamasan and let some of the Freedom Budget trickle down into the purses of Thai hookers. It’s interesting that they feel they have to pay for it. These young men, who are trained killers, somehow lack the confidence to talk to drunk girls.
The next afternoon I’m at the airport and the Tinder girls’ responses start rolling in. They all say lol had no wifi. Backpacker broads. Their bios all say they love traveling.
At the gate I send a bunch of funny texts to my friends because if the plane crashes I want to be remembered as humorous. Each text must be composed with the possibility in mind that it will be read aloud at my wake. Then I watch some of Deadpool with some Buddhist monks who laugh at all the kills, which is quite at odds with my assumptions of Buddhist conduct.
After that I’m at the Burger King and two girls from London ask if they can sit with me. They are 22 and have just graduated from “uni.”
Look at you dude, I tell myself. Even though you got old, you’ve still got it. Your decision to be a lifelong bachelor was a smart one! Then one of them plugs in her phone and I realize they are only sitting with me because my booth has an outlet in it.