The Story Of a Girl and Her Girls — Part 1

— From The Way-Back Beginning (1982) To The Present

I’ve taken some time off and caught up with sleep and protein-targeted food. I was a zombie by the time I’d written and published my final post of the end-of-year sale/anti-sale campaign. I was on the verge of just letting the campaign ride that final day without any push or shove; but I showed up and persisted, the final post ending up far less than intended when I’d set about drafting it.

I’m now well rested, well fed, and rarin’ to go…and you’re about to find out why.

The promotion has gone fantastically and I ought to be of higher energy to drive home this last 12 hours that ends NYC time. Thus far, 24 new memberships for total additional revenue of about $2,500. That’ll help a lot. Thanks, and welcome to y’all.

Well, as it turns out, that post unleashed quite a flood and I more than doubled what had been accomplished in the month since beginning on Black Friday. I finished up with 53 new orders totalling $6,290. This is in addition to what Stripe, my processor, labels “Subscription Update” over the same span of time—the monthly and annual recurring payments.

Thank you very much, one and all. Most of those were completely new memberships, the rest being upgrades of which, some existing members took advantage. For those who didn’t take up the upgrade offer, thank you too for your recurring subscriptions, always and forever locked in at the now half-price, so long as the membership is maintained. My cancelation rate is so minimal that I don’t even spend any time trying to figure out what went wrong with that particular customer.

On that score, I’m gratified that so many new subscribers are women…a welcome relief after my only micro-slew of cancellations…my Jimmy Moore post where, in a nutshell, I said that though I find the thing distasteful and such, it’s not pedophilia. I only said that because…it’s not pedophilia. Indeed, the truth often stings and gets a few panties in a wad.

(It was going to be utter and complete condemnation from me—in lockstep with all NPC regurgitators of approved and expected narrative—judge, jury, convict, and execute Jimmy…or I’m a pedo-lover. So ya think I’m all broken up about those cancellations?

No, though all this praying for the salvation of their souls gets to be tiresome and daunting. [wink])

…One interesting factor was the worry that I would lose recurring revenue by people upgrading from monthly or annual to lifetime, which is a one-&-done. So, someone’s at $50 per year, takes the lifetime deal, $225, but that’s offset by a $50 loss per year ($72 for monthly). Well, a dozen annual peeps did do that. BUT, 18 folks took up the annual offer of $40 first year, then $50 thereafter, so I ended up with a net 6 for $300 additional recurring annually. And, I ended up with 35% more monthly subscriptions on net than when I started.

All to the cool.

What many of you don’t know is that when the original Black Friday to New Year discount code, BLACKTO2023, expired at the Times Square ball drop, I created a new discount code, BETTERLATE2023, and sent out a couple of emails to existing paid subscribers only, giving an additional 24 hours to upgrade to Annual or Lifetime at the old prices of $50 and $250 (no discount). Bang! That got a bunch more additional on the whole deal. They finally believed, or whatever.

I’ve always considered myself a piss-poor marketer but lately, I’ve had success with simple but repeated truth-telling, as well as my mocking of traditional marketing calls to action (anti-marketing), where, instead of calling it copywriting, I call it copylying.

So, instead of…

BUT WAIT!!! THAT’S NOT ALL!

When you call and place your order order within the next 30-minutes, we’re going to give you, at no additional charge…

ALL THE SECRETS TO THE UNIVERSE!

…BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!!!

You also get this combination spaghetti-pot, clam-steamer!

Instead, I did…

  1. An offer: a modest discount; price-lock in perpetuity
  2. With a deadline
  3. And a threat: prices doubles
  4. I told no lies; I did exactly what I said I would do
  5. Didn’t hype it at all: same weird-ass, cringe-inducing, eclectic, polymathish, dot-connecting, synthesizing, often embarrassing blog…as it always was

I’ve always held to the original notion of what a blog—a Web Logis; which is, a sort of diary or journal crafted for public consumption. Many forget about that, calling their news and analysis a blog. Nope. When you hold to the essentials of what makes a blog a blog, it’s thoroughly unique. Nobody can copy you because nobody else is you. Nobody has your same stories. It turns on how interesting they are and how artfully you can tell them. And you can get better at it. Practice makes perfect.

The only true essential is that you lead an interesting life...

…and this can be changed. It can be changed from one moment to the next. It entails getting off your lazy ass and showing up to do something notable, remarkable, interesting, or all three and more.

…And yea, it does make me smile, looking back to April, 2021, when I kicked off my paid-memberships endeavor with zero idea of how it would go.

What makes me more than smile, though—as in, laugh my damn ass off—is the handful of usual suspects. The hahahahahahahaha-type messages and comment submissions in response to the kick-off post announcing that you now have to pay to play.

My favorite was from someone named “Fuck You,” email address fuckyou@fuckyou.fu with the 2-word comment…you guessed it: “Fuck You!”

The non-descript-gendered person certainly has a way with words.

As I have said and written many many times, I write to engender either love or hate and I’m fine with either. Indifference is what I strive to avoid.

Arguably, hate is even more valuable than love because the haters are your most engaged audience of all. They read every single post and watch every single video…to give it a thumbs down. I could do a vid of me giving the feral female cat around here—who shows up every night to yell at me—half my can of tuna, then a helping of milk in the bowl for her to wash it down…and they would still thumb-down the video.

That’s what makes them so lovable. I love and cherish the haters. Honestly, I do. I wouldn’t want to change them. Rather, I vow to deliver to them years of self-righteous inducing anguish upon which they may dwell.

The Girl

When I wrote the final post of the aforementioned campaign, I concluded with three things I’d intended to write about during the campaign but ran out of time. My ocean swimming, my cooking on a Thai budget, and The Girl and rekindling with her.

She turned 30 two days ago, incidentally, and I turn 62 in about 3 weeks. In two more years, she’ll finally be half my age.

You probably don’t have to think very hard to guess which of those three topics got me the most action on new memberships and upgrades, and the most feedback.

Happy New Year Richard,

Your recent post with pictures of Yui’s kids that you’re helping inspired me to say it’s really heartening to see you have reestablished a connection with them all; I was sorry to hear about the troubles earlier in the year and it was tempting as a Thailand long-termer to think “what did you expect?” But cynicism is such a lose-lose way of thinking, and so lazy; I’m almost ashamed of being generally a cynic over the last few years.

My wife had a young daughter when we met and some of my favorite memories are of taking her on activities (Segway in the park, teaching her backgammon, going camping and making fires etc.). So I have some inkling of the joy you feel on being in a position to enhance their lives with no repayment other than the exquisite joy of watching them grow, learn and have fun.

I wish you (and your chosen family) all the best for 2023.

And a number of others.

(There are three Thailand expats I know of whose reading and following of my antics far precede my own expat status in Thailand. All three are Members.)

The headline photo above is Chili in May of 2020 when I met her 10-year-old darlingness for the first time. In the nearly 3 years since knowing her and younger sister, Wasabi, neither have said so much as 1 cross word to me.

(..Contrast that with Western religious and moral decay and depravity in terms of child rearing, where parents are derided by their teenagers on a near daily basis.)

They’re both respectful, grateful, and loving to a fault. Wasabi has told me—even before the early death of her ~45 year-old dad last February to cancer—that she loves me like a father. That, and seeing Chili grow so much, explicating in stark contrast how much I’ve squandered by missing a lot of it, weighs on me like a ton of bricks—as well it should—and it was time for this man to man-up about that.

They are become the most important thing in my life, if they’ll allow the dedication and action that implies. That means: to the exclusion of all else where any conflicts-of-interest might lurk.

“All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” — Romans 8:28

I consider that Biblical wisdom to be fully open-ended. That is, no particular—or any—God required. Substitute The Buddha, Confucius, Allah…or even nature and its natural order itself. It means: if your human sense, consciousness, and spirit transcend the confines of your physical existence in body and mind, you have the opportunity to regard everything from the enlightened perspective of good.

“And God saw that it was very good.” — Genesis 1:31, the 7th use of the word good; in the final verse of the 1st chapter of the 1st book. And I will take that to mean that the creation of earth and humanity is a very good thing to befall a universal existence devoid of cause or purpose…an A is A, existence exists tautology that is neither benevolent or malevolent, but just is. It takes humanity to usher in good and evil and without evil, there’s no possibility, no reference point, to what could possibly be considered the good.

(Even Covid. Look at the heinous-humanoid depravity and criminality fraudulently posing as benevolence for mankind it has exposed—and that’s only a spec of the tip of the iceberg. This is good.)

To Follow:

  • Intro — Past History with Asia and Asian Chicks
  • Anticipation in 2019
  • My Very First Words to Yui: “One Minute”
  • I Country Girl; Not Mean Stupid Girl
  • The Covid Disaster/Opportunity/Lemonade
  • The House Build
  • The Conflicts
  • The Move Away
  • Pattaya and Phuket
  • The Fund-Raising Debacle
  • The Team-Up With Sister, Nun
  • Alcohol Cessation and Its Effect
  • The Mess She Made and What I Did About It
  • The Things We Both Love
  • My Departure From Phuket…Tomorrow
  • Leaving America Behind

There’s the 1550-word introduction to this post, which totals 6,000. Yep, it’s for Members from this point forward. There’s no free-member level anymore. That level has been deleted, no ill-will intended.

It was superfluous and redundant because things evolved into what’s public content and what’s paid content. There was no need of a meaningless distinction that earned me an email address and a pain-in-the-ass 600+ login accounts to manage…for free.

If you’re to this point and are left feeling unsatisfied and wanting, well here’s some tough love for ya:

I told you so.

I gave you every chance and warning over a space of 5 weeks.

I have attained a New Plateau in life and in the makeup of this blog, now beginning its 20th year.

Best bet is that all y’all non-members take the L: accept the penalty—be it $6m, $50y, or $250life—lick your wounds, take your medicine, learn your lesson, and read on…expecting much more devastatingly interesting and eclectic/polymath long-form…for years to come…especially as I intend to watch and document those two angel-girls grow, develop, marry forthright husbands, and if counting my lucky stars, shower her mother and I with grandchildren.

I’m glad I can’t predict the future. All I’ve got are my intentions and the dreams they inspire (sounds reversed, but it’s the proper way…rendering one’s dreams into something that’s actually attainable). I’ll pursue those dreams by setting out to do what I have decided and intend to do…for better or worse, one could say…but that’s the spice of life and whatever will be, will be.

Intro — Past History with Asia and Asian Chicks

1982, Oregon State University, Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC).

“We’re shipping you off to Pusan, Korea to catch the USS San Bernardino (LST-1189) for your Midshipman summer ‘cruise.'”

Yea, they call it a cruise. Ha! It was a cruise alright…one that would thoroughly change the course of my life in what would turn out to be—now nearly 41 years later—irrevocable.

It was a Boeing 707 charter flight out of Oakland, CA. An equipment malfunction necessitating deplaning and a delay didn’t seem to phase us college-senior Midshipmen on our way to an adventure in Asia, the Western Pacific. We refueled in Anchorage and again in Misawa, where a US Navy P-3 Squadron was stationed. I jumped off the 707, asked around, and within minutes was on the phone with my Navy LT P-3 NFO cousin. He and Cathy raced on over and I got about 3 minutes of visiting time before the reboarding.

That was my serendipitous experience in setting of first foot on Asian soil.

We continued on from there to the US Air Force Base at Yokota, just outside Tokyo, for an overnight stop. The next day, all of us Midshipmen of this Asia contingent that year would be split up to go our separate ways to different commands dotting that portion of the massive 50-million-square-mile 7th Fleet AOR. For me, that was a C-130 hop over the Sea of Japan to Gimhae Air Base in Pusan, Korea.

(Fun Fact for the Wokesters: The body of water between Korea’s west coast and China’s east coast is still shown on maps as “Yellow Sea.” Youze guise better get someone on that lest…well, lest.)

It was a short bus ride over to the main commercial pier where Bernardino was tied up (we don’t say “docked”). An LST—Landing Ship; Tank—its mission is to offload Marines and their equipment (tanks and personnel carriers…anything with tracks or wheels) directly onto the beach.

USS San Bernardino (LST-1189)

It accomplishes this mission as you might unbelievably expect…by beaching itself bow-first, directly onto the beach. Highly maneuverable, with bow thrusters and such…also anchor lines and equipment at the stern to hold position perpendicular to the currents and tides coming into the beach.

Done correctly vs. done incorrectly…then…oh shit!

Pusan is a commercial port that serves all manner of maritime activity, and that includes R&R, resupply, and repair for military ships. It also has a fantastic shopping and nightlife area within a short walking distance.

Real Nike, Adidas, Puma…brand name stuff of every sort imaginable. Bags bags bags. Some was knock-off (the official factories working the graveyard, perhaps) but much was factory seconds and word had it that particularly in the case of Nike, there was a super-high reject percentage because the factory was new and still learning. At least, that was The Word, according to Someone. And because It Was Said.

And bars; and young Asian chick-girls who grace them, affording a thing of sexual exotic mystery that should be easy for any raging-hormone 21-yr-old college senior to resist (lie…my 1st so far). I get a kick out of telling bar girls working here now that I paid my first bar fine in 1982 (2525 on the Thai calendar), 40 years ago; that’s commonly 10-15 years before the random one I’m talking to was born.

That makes them laugh, feign horror, but also gives them appropriate pause. Their lying-game schick gets toned way down from there. It’s inviolable, once they’re on notice that he’s heard every line and lie a million times. They’re generally honest about their life story and you know this because, as I say, “every Asian bar girl has the same story.” By same, I mean the same elements in terms of the father of their 1 or 2 children they’re working to support while mom, sister, or aunt takes care of them (desertion, infidelity, no money, drinking too much, gambling, no ambition, always cavorting with the boys, etc…typical stupid poor-guy shit who runs rather than confront responsibility.

So, anyway, y’all can imagine my activities over the several days in port before getting underway to participate in the annual joint military exercise between the US and South Korea armed forces, Team Spirit ’82.

(I would go on to participate in 5 future Team Spirits in a life stage set in motion by this out-of-the blue assignment for a kid going to college in rainy Oregon, who didn’t know Asia from South America…or Europe, for that matter.)

…Concluding that several weeks at sea, getting as much officer-apprentice experience as possible, we tied up in Sasebo, a lovely port town in the south, Kumamoto. And I got a taste of the Japanese female, though bars operate substantially differently. But, girls will be girls and I quickly gained a knack for attracting them, rich or poor.

(This is just part of what makes me laugh when being laughed at by those I’d consider envious-of-me males or envious-of-her females, when it’s learned that my chick-unit is 32 years junior, only 2 weeks from her 27th when I took up with her—after giving her just 1 minute; story to follow. Those folks lack the awareness of my 40-year history with the Asian female, knowing—as much as any man can claim to know—kinda sorta a teeny-tiny bit of what makes them tick different.)

I don’t know… It’s visceral, and I can no more help it than I could pluck out my own eyes. Seeing is believing; and touching?…well…

…And so it came to pass that I returned to college to finish out that last year and what should happen? Yea, I hooked up with a Filipina chick for about 18 months. That story is told here.

After graduation, the commissioning, the break up with the chick from the P.I…I spent the better portion of a year at school in Coronado learning the book-basics of how to be a Navy officer at sea. As always, books are limited.

What’s not is the human spirit and the almost unconscious way we navigate through our own lives making course corrections and adjustments that don’t strike us as life changing; until 40 years later when you look back and note how wholly and completely different might your entire adult life be—worse or better—had you not done that one little tiny thing way back when.

So the first part was random chance. I was in the right time, right place to be ordered to Asia for a month. The second part was that while at Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) school, I made the conscious decision to request assignment to a ship stationed in Japan. The Navy was only so happy to oblige, as those assignments often went to the flunkies because all the top-of-class wanted to be as close as possible to their families and where they grew up. This is particularly true of the east coast, Atlantic Navy guys. It’s weird. It’s like a different Navy altogether when you encounter that breed.

WestPac sailors, especially us forward-deployed—going to sea for shorter durations but more often; stopping over in interesting and exotic places; chasing Asian chicks all over Japan, Korea, Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and lesser-known places (Indonesia, anyone? Malaysia? Yep, there too.)—were, and I hope still are, a breed apart.

It’s like you can smell it on us.

…School ended, I was assigned to USS Reeves (CG-24) and did a grueling 2 1/2 years as missiles officer, 1st Lieutenant, and electrical officer. That was the sink-or-swim proving ground, the weeding out.

“The surface Navy eats their young.”

The reason for that is simple. It’s where most of the incompetence goes and it’s where you want it. Not flying an umpteen-million-dollar aircraft or tending to a nuclear power plant. They can do less damage on a Mark 1, Mod A conventional ship.

Where do they go when they bomb out? Same place all incopentance goes…a desk on land somewhere.

Or, we give them to the Air Force… [ducking]

It’s a perfect career path for a public servant dontcha think? Especially Congress or The White House. Sky’s the limit.

Anyway, digressions aside, I excelled, top JO on the ship; and that’s in writing in my latter FitReps. So, I went to staff duty on 7th Fleet in a job billeted for an O-4, as an O-2, permanently embarked aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) (still on active duty, since 1969; the year we faked landing on the moon for the 1st time).

Importantly, though, it was a move across the pier. I didn’t even have to move from my house on Morito beach, Hayama, 10 km across the peninsula from Yokosuka.

Two more years of chasing those chicks.

All good things must come to and end, and for me, that was April, 1989, when I departed 7th Fleet and stepped down the Blue Ridge’s gangplank for the last time. We were tied up in Manilla at the time. Must have been my 50th visit to the Philippines, mostly Subic Bay where shipyard work was 3rd-world cheap. In spite of my 7 trips to Thailand and my 3 years in country now, I still probably know the Filipina mind and body the best…so damn many…

The same but different, as they say. Essentially, the differences boil down to language and culture. Filipinos are masters of language and mimicry. So much so, that across all of Asia, they’re the go-to cover bands everyplace. Even if the musicians are locals—and Thailand has fine instrumentalists—the lead singer, male or female, is almost always on a work visa from the Philippines. Thais? Engrish not so good, though my girl is an outlier because she’s such a smarty pants.

Culturally, it’s the difference between a punishment-based, literal belief system with the stick (you go to hell) and a reward-based, spiritual and contemplative belief system with the carrot (doing good follows you).

The difference in the bedroom?

Nil; though, “more study is required.”

I’d been to Thailand a number of times before, including a month of leave in Pattaya during my 7th Fleet stint. So, why not take another month between leaving 7th Fleet in Manila, and reporting as ordered to my next gig? And, since Vice Admiral Henry Mauz was headed to Bangkok in one of the Fleet’s P-3 submarine hunters, why not ask if I could hitch a ride?

That was the easiest passage through immigration and customs ever. There was none. I was just handed a document and along with my military ID, I was good to go, even without a passport (though I had one anyway, with stamps from two previous civilian excursions to the Kingdom). It was a coming of full circle surrounding Thailand. I had reported to 7th Fleet in Pattaya two years earlier after a month in the US after Reeves. I had six weeks of down time then, so I had arranged to fly from SFO –> DMK two weeks prior to Blue Ridge’s arrival and here I was, detaching from that duty assignment two years later in…Thailand.

It was already feeling like home. It was perhaps the best month-long space of time stacked up in my memory banks. Stories to fill a book. Having been such a chick-chaser in so many Asian countries, so many girls over a space of 5 years, I settled down for a month with one girl, ‘A’. She worked in the bar below my room—Sugar Shack—owned by a retired, offshore-rig American expat and his Thai wife.

I met Keith on day one and we hung out every day for the entire month…even took a week-long jaunt to Phuket, my 2nd time there. Having absolutely zero idea that it would be my eventual home makes for quizzical pondering to this day. Bangla Rd. off Patong Beach—Phuket’s answer to Pattaya’s Walking Street—was but a dead-end dirt road with a half-dozen beer bars staffed by young, cute, always smiling bar girls who could beat you at Connect 4 as many times in a row as they desired.

Those were the idyllic days and it’s rare to meet an expat who ever saw it in that state of primal existence.

…Anyway, it’s safe to say that Keith and I, a Brit about my age, hit it off marvelously. He was conducting an around-the-world tour on the heels of a divorce and diverted during his LA stage to pop up to Monterey by bus for a couple of days.

And I still wasn’t done with Thailand, or its better half.

Turns out that between my completion of French School and reporting as navigator to FNS Duquesne (D-603), I could take another month (I had lots saved up). How do you suppose I decided to spend that month?

Why, in Thailand, of course; Pattaya, not only in the same little guest house above Sugar Shack Bar, but the same room. ‘A’ would have been gone by then, who knows where – that’s how it rolls, but I was sure I’d find a way to manage. And as it so happened, Keith was up for another visit as well. So was Mark, a former Reeves shipmate who was completing his 12-month Japanese-language course in Monterey at the same time.

Thailand has a way of bringing guys together and then reuniting them around a common theme. I’d guess. No idea why. [wink]

It was during that trip that I introduced Keith to the tales of the P.I. and told him exactly where to go.

Long story short, he went back many times—both to Thailand and to the Philippines—after those two meetups and I even flew out to join him, same place, Pattaya, for 2 weeks during my assignment in France.

At some point, what you might expect would happen, happened. The daughter is 17 years old now, an honor student in the all-girls school Keith insisted upon. Some months back, he finally got his pension from the UK, permanently relocated, and built a house for his Filipina wife and daughter not but a few clicks from where I’d told him to go; and he’s the happiest he’s ever been in his life.

Yep, we’ve kept in touch all these 30 years. I’m planning a visit. Flights to Manilla or Clark, the former US Air Base, are cheap.

Things in common.

What could they possibly be?

Koh Samet bungalow, December, 1989; photo by Lek

Anticipation in 2019

The 30-year period from 1989 – 2019 is mostly not relevant to this story, so I’ll just cover the overall for continuity.

When I left Asia in ’89, I returned to the States for long enough to get that firm immersion-grasp on the French language, in Monterey, CA. Convenient, as it was close to the home front, which had relocated from Oregon to San Jose about the same time I went off to Japan 5 years earlier.

But even then, Asia called to me even as I was preparing for a job and life amongst the French…the French Navy, to be precise. I’d done so well on my first two tours I was offered two years of what’s well-known as the cushiest assignment you can get…an exchange-officer tour with a foreign navy. Due to the timing of when one guy’s gig ends and is due to be relieved, I had two offerings to choose from: the Dutch and the French. The big difference is that I would go straight to the Netherlands, no language requirement. As covered above, I chose the French, and primarily because of the language requirement.

I thought it would be a challenge. It was. But the brain works in mysterious ways. Two months in, I was failing miserably. Then from a literal one day to the next, overnight, I could form basic poper sentences and that’s the toe-hold you need. Then you can learn the language on its own terms. For example, I tossed the French-English dictionary and obtained a French dictionary. Learn a new French word in terms of other French words and scurry down rabbit holes.

That tour finished, I returned to the US, left the Navy, started and failed in a couple of businesses and the third time’s the charm. I ran a business, got married, bought a house, and did everything else you’re supposed to do.

I never, not once in that 30 years, thought about returning to Asia for anything but showing my wife around the more approriate places and things I also experienced in those 5 years.

I once even brought my parents over while in Japan. They stayed in my house, met Kazuko—my antiques-dealer girl at the time (and who doubled as a great tour guide). We went to Hong Kong for week number two and they never had a clue about the Filipina domestic I knew from a previous trip, who came to pay a visit to my next-door room one late evening…

So, I can be how one’s supposed to be in order to maintain appearances. I don’t go out of my way to flaunt what others generally regard as poor behavior. Writing about it honestly and transparently—though still within some social-norm limits—is a different story.

I don’t know why, exactly. Perhaps it’s because writing affords the delivery of a more complete context, along with all the nuances and their implications. It makes it more difficult for dishonest prejudice to persist. One is left to cherry-pick “bad” quotes; and with so much personal shit online, with so much collective experience reading it over the last 2 decades, that sort of gotcha stuff is getting increasingly tiresome for increasingly many.

…My ex-wife used to occasionally tell me that I didn’t seem happy, but I always dismissed such proclamations and never dug deeper or reflected upon them. I suspect that she may have regarded this blog as an outlet for that sort of underlying frustration if I’m to assume she was onto something. The steadily increasing over-consumption of alcohol too often must have been a telltale of something.

Unhappiness? Well, I’ve certainly explored that possibility rather exhaustively.

It’s a strange self-contemplation because I didn’t feel unhappy, unfulfilled…like something was missing. It’s also not, I don’t think, anything I was just hiding while pretending it didn’t exist. I don’t tick or tock like that. It’s just as when I come across someone I don’t like. Doesn’t happen often, but I’m unable to hide it. So I disengage. I have no patience for, nor can I tolerate banal, mundane, small-talk conversations. The wife used to be amused that when I found myself in such encounters with an individual or group, I’d just walk away not even realizing I was being impolite and lacking in grace by not at least excusing myself.

The divorce was a pretty natural confluence of underlying conflicts of values—nobody’s fault, really. At least that’s my thinking and speaking for myself. She and I discussed that recently and we’re roughly on the same page. My drinking didn’t help, of course, but in my retrospective view now—2 days away from 5 months of this production being in the can—I regard that as more of an effect than a cause, and that’s primarily because it was so ridiculously easy to stop on a dime and it’s still easy. Never does the thought even cross my mind.

The point I’m trying close in on might be summed up like this: it took me 2 1/2 years of excess drinking while living in what’s arguably as close to the land of my dreams as I’ll ever get, to come to the duh! that I didn’t “need” it for any explicable reason or self-serving excuse.

I didn’t even get a clue once I’d sold everything, packed a 2-liter to carry on my back, and boarded an airplane destined for a land I’d had more history with than I’d taken cognizance of.

Weird.

I wasn’t really putting the pieces together, which makes me feel now as though I’m a bit dense and clueless about these matters. My thinking was shallow—as though I thought I could revert to the life of a carefree 25 year-old again, picking up different chicks every day, thinking nothing of it beyond how hot she was and good or bad on the skillz spectrum.

And that was my honest determination—to do just that, again—upon landing in Chiang Mai on an uncharacteristically hot afternoon day in January, 2020.

My Very First Words to Yui: “One Minute”

Having spent over 30 sleepless hours of total travel time to get here, with 15 hours of layovers in two Chinese cities, I was in no condition to do anything, yet I persisted.

That must have petered out quickly, though. All I recall is having a Nicoise salad and then a few drinks at an empty bar where I chatted with the barmaid.

(Cute little hard-working thing. Older, mid-30s. Weeks later when still sowing wild oats and after having stopped in to chat with her now and then, I’d come in one night and just nonchalantly suggest that she come home with me.)

And then I woke up the next morning mildly refreshed and gratefully, to an organized and tidy room, all my stuff unpacked and in their places…and I had soda water in the fridge—something I always acquire when I’ve had to leave home without it.

I must have zombie-zoned out to good effect.

OK, then. I woke up alone. So, tonight’s the night.

I found myself in a nice, loungy-like place with live music and I approached a young 20-something girl. Pretty hot. Vixen looking. Started talking and she was receptive, but communication was impossible. Almost no English. So I excused myself and walking back to my table…

“I speak English…”

I look over and down and without even thinking.

“One minute.”

[To be continued…]


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