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Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Bell Tolls

People in the mass are unprepossessing, particularly in hot weather. In summer they go about almost naked, great fat women displaying their mountainous buttocks and dangling breasts without the slightest restraint. The men, fiddling about with their crotches, are just as unappetizing; bandy, knock-kneed; their limbs shrivelled flabby appendages, or else muscle-bound monstrosities; chests grubby white or else matted with sweat-sodden curls; smally fungus sprouting in every axilla. Anna Kavan, The Garden, in 'Julia and the Bazooka', 1970 (posthumous)


Substitute 'grubby white' with 'deeply sun-leathered' and you know that Kavan is right on the money with the unattractively obese tourists (such as E@L) on the fast-track to skin-cancer on Kata Beach in Phuket. Little kids are running around in small togs or even naked in the scorching noon sun. If that happened on Bondi (Sydney), the parents would be arrested, their backs flayed with 40 strokes of the the cat-o-nine-tails, and their kids farmed out to foster homes. As the darker Thai girls from Isaan smear themselves with skin bleach and, with both hands rubbing up and down and around on their faces, apply baby-powder to their dark skin (which ironically, the white EjacIndustry tourists prefer), the Europeans roast themselves to a charred brown unattractive leather on their beach-chairs.

Is it the hole in the ozone layer or what that causes Australians get so much skin cancer? Or the stupidity of the Europeans when they ignore the risks?

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Books finished: Julia and The Bazooka, Tevis's The Queen's Gambit, and Ryu Murakami's strange first novel Almost Transparent Blue.

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E@L is chatting (as you do) with one of the prettiest bar-girls he could find as it quietens down again after Chinese New Year, she tells him that the Italians and the Swedish are the predominant Europeans at this time of year. She fiddles with her brief, school-girl tartan skirt. "Now coming low season," she says wistfully and cuddles between E@L's legs. Welsh and Australians maybe in the minority, but they're doing their damnedest to maintain the ladies' cash flow as E@L, blood diverted sharply from his brain by that cuddle, climbs on a chair to ring the bell, thereby shouting all the Italians (no Swedes) and the girls at the bar a round of shots.



"I go dancing," she says after sucking down her flaming B52 and climbs onto the bar-top to commence an entertaining gyration with her 'sister'. It's laughs all round, except that a muscular monstrosity, a young Italian man whose arms and and neck are festooned with elaborate tattoos, is eying E@L and his girl from across the bar in a way that causes E@L's stomach to tighten into a knot. The guy is licking the top of his beer bottle and then pumping it in and out of his mouth as he stares E@L in the eye. Fuck. He wants to blow E@L? More likely he recognizes that E@L is with the best girl at the bar and he is going to come over, beat E@L to a pulp and drag the prize girl away by the hair (after paying the 300Bht barfine)? E@L grimaces in what might be construed as either a smile or moderate gastric discomfort.

Nothing happens at first; the guy at continues to eye E@L's girl until another bar-girl starts to dance with him and he is distracted and happy, happy enough to ring the bell again. Still the tension is palpable, as he dances over towards E@L's part of the bar, parks himself on a chair by the adjacent bar as if exhausted, necks his beer, then leans over to make some drowned-out comment to the 'sisters' as they step down from the bar-top. They laugh and touch the guy's shoulders, one on each side. He has a roaring enthusiastic laugh. E@L feels his face flush, his gut tighten again and wonders what the hell is going on. Ah, but suddenly it is 1 o'clock and E@L quickly barfines her before anyone else has a chance - she has been with E@L for the last two hours accepting lady drinks, so it is unlikely that mamasan would permit her to go with anyone else anyway. And why would she want that 6'4" impressively athletic, energetic and amusing young Italian when she could go with E@L?

Next night the guy is at the same bar again, but this time E@L has a strategy. He defuses the situation early by asking the guy where he is from (Milano) and what his name is (Phil!)... After that fortunate coincidence, everything is cool again. E@L's girl cuddles up and the bell-ringing cycle starts once more...

E@L

9 comments:

scott said...

Why the need to compete for paid attention? I just don't understand it, it is just an economic argument. I noticed the same thing when my girlfriend asked me to take her to see strippers and I saw some of the young guys in the club trying to 'pick up' the girls, as if everyone else hadn't done the same thing. Just pay the fee and they will give whatever you want, so simple.

On the sun exposure issue, I think it is more the whole in the ozone layer than bad habits that cause the higher cancer rate here in Australia. I notice each time I head to the northern hemisphere that the sun intensity is way down on the punishment we get here, no wonder the British tourists quickly accrue the 'lobster tan' on the beaches here.
In terms of the Europeans trying to be darker and the Thais whitening themselves, I assume it is globalisation again, the whole world becoming homogenised?

dibabear said...

You miss the whole testosterone laden point. It's a basal male response, doesn't matter whether you pay cash, gifts or offer a secure future. All the same. All of love and most of life is a buy/sell equation like that. What Phil missed is that the monstrosity probably has a peenyot the size of which any well exercised bargirl couldn't feel. Not that she wouldn't fake it...

On a more serious note, it's anecdotal but I think cancer is on the rise among the Eurostock in general. I seem to know of more people dying from it than I did 20 or 30 years ago. Of course, if the dusky and swarthy types keep up with the skin bleaching they might not be far behind, which would be a pity.

expat@large said...

Scott & Diba: it was truly astounding to me to feel the depth my posessiveness suddenly sprang from and the physicality of the reponse - I went weak and nauseous. It was not about the money, about negotiation, nothing rational at all, but about the need to defend "my" girl, hooker or not, from the threat of another man. Also, on the nights I was not there, I presumed he was taking her out and the thought of this made my mind go into Dostoevskian existential traumas that, while I was very much aware of their pedestrian clichedness, I could not control with my rational mind. (I have one?) When my friend jumped out of the taxi because he saw lights on at a nearby bar at 4;30am, many of the un-bar-fined girls from the "entertainment complex" were there AND muscular Phil, still drinking and dancing. I had stayed in the taxi and crashed back in the hotel, completely demolished.

Yet another example of how we consider ourselves rational beings but in fact are complete slaves to our limbic systems.

So next night I went for a dodgy massage instead: let me tell you about THIS girl! Oh my, my, studded tongue... I'm in love again already...

dibabear said...

Isn't that the beauty of love? It's such an opportumistic emotion. :-)

Your increased libido is a very good thing but I've noticed that mine has crashed. Perhaps a Zen thing where there is only so much libido to go around and since yours is up someone else's must be down? That's truly ponderous.

expat@large said...

Diba: I've even got back on to OKCupid (under the pressure of Izzy standing over my shoulder MAKING me!). I'm not sure if the universal Ying-Yang ratio needs to remain stabilized or not, but I just wonder in your case: is it the drugs?

marke said...

......"doesn't matter whether you pay cash, gifts or offer a secure future. All the same. All of love and most of life is a buy/sell equation like that."

Damn, Dibabear - that sums it all up! Never were truer words spoken! (.... well, typed, anyway).

dibabear said...

Not unless thyroxine now has saltpeter added to it. Hmmm, perhaps a bit of pharma collusion to get me to buy those little blue pills?

expat@large said...

Maybe Diba has voice recognition software?

Cialis is yellow. Um, I am told.

dibabear said...

Just remember, if your erection lasts more than four hours call your erectician.

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