Planet Hiker
2008-11-27 The Pool Table, Raily, Thailand

The concert ends shortly after the last sip of my Earl Grey. It was the good kind too - the Twinings. Who would have thought that one could listen to Metalica, Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine and other heavy metal bands of the 90's, being performed by a group of long haired dudes, and all this while sitting on pillows and drinking tea at a beach bar. Then again, why not? After all, this is Thailand!

There is also Jennifer sitting so close to me that it is no longer seductive. I'd love for her to sit a few inches further back, tilt her head forward and look into my eyes every now and then. Instead, her knees are pressing against me and we talk into each other's ears, with my baseball cap budding into her face on every toggle of the conversation flow, never bothering to make eye contact. She is really cute too - a 21 year old's face (though she is 27), gorgeous blond hair and may be even blue eyes - it is too dark to tell so I just let my imagination fill in the details.

After a brief conversation I come across as too nice of a guy - rated PG 13 - I hate when that happens... She does mention that she is single, along with the fact that she just made friends with 5 other really nice guys in the bar. I can not detect the whim of alcohol. Does this mean she is on E? In any case, I am not willing to join the entourage so she and her 5 new friends head off with the last note of the electric guitar.

Tonight I don't have a place to stay. Most of the hotels were either full or charged absurd amount of money. So I ended up dropping off my backpack along with the surfboard at the Indian restaurant called Rapala, but haven't quite found a corner to stretch out at. Actually, the restaurant owner suggested that I just crash someplace on the floor by the table on the patio, as there was a roof shielding against the rain. I agreed to that idea, thinking that I do have a tent after all in the backpack. But now, I realize that the tent is in the backpack, locked behind the kitchen door... Like a dog trying to find the perfect corner of the room that is too large for being comfy, I circle around the tables feeling out an imaginary nest but I am not ready to sleep yet. Besides, there is music being blasted from someplace near by. May be they also have a pool table?..

I follow the sounds and walk into the bar and behold, there is indeed a pool table! It is surrounded by locals and tourists alike and a welcoming aura of comradery glows over the mingling masses. An old soggy pool table makes a perfect place to dive into if you are prepared to be comfortable both at loosing and winning. The table treats everyone equal. Therefore, we all are equal. It's not about gaining respect by beating your opponent. It's not even about showing that you can play. Playing a game is like holding a glass of beer and toasting someone with a simple "Cheers".

I put down the money for the game and ask for a challenger. An Indian guy gives me brave glance and we are on for the match. My first few shots are clumsy as I am not yet in the groove. He quickly races ahead, sinking a few balls, but somehow I end up catching up, taking the first round. Immediately there is a challenge to play for 100 Baht (enough money for a couple of beers) from someone. I look up to see a super short miniskirt, black top, long earrings and lots of bracelets.
"100 Baht! 100 Baht! I play you for 100 Baht."
This seems like an empty treat as the girl's attention is soon shifted to someone else. 100 Baht is not a lot of money. Meaning, I am willing to look that much for the experience of seeing her long legs at the table. But, a local boy with a cigarette held in a grin steps up to the table, committing to a game. I guess the Long Legs would be entertaining someone else. Surprisingly, however, she does not flee without first brushing against me and saying something about my physique. Could it be that that was for winning just now?

I play the next round much better than the first but end up loosing. So I make my way to the bar for a glass of orange juice (no alcohol tonight unless it's absolutely necessary as I plan to go rock climbing in the morning). There are 5 guys and a girl - it's Jennifer and the crew. We exchange friendly hellos. On the other side of the bar there is a chilled out crowd and amongst them is the miniskirt. I pay for the juice but before I can make it back to the pool table, a chubby chick, probably Swedish, comes up to me, also very friendly. She is round from every angle, huge breasts and a wonderful tan, playing off of here light blue top. Considering that I still want to rock climb in a few hours, I fancy to keep the evening short and settle for the chubby chick - taking home the bacon, sort of speak. I feel confident, even though never in my life have I ever been able to "settle for the chubby chick". The first words of contact - "Hello, where are you from" - catalyze a chain reaction that results in miniskirt pushing her way through the crowd and wedging herself in between myself and my new acquaintance.
"Hie, so, do you still want to play?" she asks, giving me a wide eye look. Some guys say that they don't like it when a girl comes on too strong. Noticing that she is wearing quite a lot of makeup, I remember what I've been warned about the Thai "girls" and an unsettling suspicion starts to dwindle somewhere still in my unconscious. As long as it actually is a girl, may be it's OK if she comes on too strong... I mean, why not? This is Thailand after all.

I rack up the balls but she insists that I go first, while adding "I give you kiss if you win. But don't think of anything, we stay friends, and don't tell my boyfriend." Cool, she has a boyfriend, therefore, she is a "she" indeed. Right?..

I take another look at her and she certainly looked hot - slim waist, long lowing hair, the brow could have been fuller but that's forgivable. So I relax a bit, get into the game and start sinking balls - there is little room for error as she is actually an excellent player.

The Indian guy comes by and asks me in a low voice, trying to keep a casual look on his face "How is it going with the girl?"
"Neah, it's not like that - she has a boyfriend" I reply, somehow totally calming myself down, having heard a fellow pool player refer to her as "the girl". With that, I gain balance, there is no hesitation in my shots, I make one ball after another, compensating perfectly for the crookedness of the table and the dampness of the surface. Another calibrated shot and the eight ball sinks with vengeance into the corner pocket, ignoring Mrs Long Legs who is leaning over the table, doing all that she can think of to distract me.

With a mildly irritated tone she declares "Oh, you win..." and marches straight back to the bar. It is then that I notice that her feet are actually bigger than what you'd expect of a woman of her height. Come to think of it, her hands are also a bit on the larger side... But everything else seems to check out...

No longer sure if I want to collect my winnings but still having the urge to get to the bottom of this, I follow her back to the bar. There the music is louder and there are more people, all pretending to talk but really only gaining an excuse to stand closer to someone. I shuffle myself into the crowd, finding her pressing against me, order another orange juice and instinctively also ask her if she wants anything to drink. She calls for vodka and Red Bull, and adds to that - "I can't give you kiss here - my boyfriend may see me. But I go to bathroom and after a minute you follow me". Damn... Unless I am living in a Chuck Palahniuk novel, this was a sinking vessel all along... No self respecting woman would pick a bathroom (and believe me, a bathroom in a bar, in Thaialnd is to be avoided unless absolutely, and I mean absolutely necessary) for a make out spot. Time to abandon ship. I still pay for the "her" drink, she takes a sip and disappears into the bathroom. I head back to the pool table - the Indian guy will probably want a rematch.