Last month Jamie Parker and I were sitting on Pattaya Beach. We hadn't seen each other in five months.
"Do you miss living here?" Jamie had been trying to open another go-go bar. The owner of the Carousel off Walking Street was dead broke. The go-go bar sounded like a good investment, except neither of us had any money.
"Every day I wake up and it's cold and my bones creak." My son Fenway was playing in the sand. Mam his mother was digging up small clams from the edge of the sea. The beach vendor brought over a big bottle of Leo. "I'd love to stay, except I'm busted."
"Most everyone is this past years." Jamie had a little money coming in monthly from his veterans disability. His body showed no scars or bullet holes. For a man of so many tall tales he had never told the one why the Pentagon considered him worthy of a pension.
"If it was only me, then I could scramble for cash." Not eating for a day or two didn't bother me as long as I could get a beer, but Fenway needed his milk.
"Yeah, kids aren't made for the sporting life." The rat-thin New Yorker had never spawn an heir to his empire of hustles and scams. He was the last of the Parkers.
"Not unless they're Gypsies." I settled back into the cloth lounge chair. The breeze off the water was cool and the beer cold. "What I don't miss about Pattaya are the plastic condos, the big discos, and fat Russians."
"They're the only foreigners coming here this summer."
"For the sun." Neither of us dared to challenge its rays, although every Russian had slathered their pasty bodies with sun oil, as if they were preparing to be the Sunday pig roast.
"You know I don't believe in evolution." Jamie poured his beer into a glass and then added ice. Most British lager louts considered that sacrilege. We didn't care what those exiles from the Costa Brava thought. We were Americans and cold beer is colder with ice.
"I more believe in de-volution." A quick glance at the sun bathers attested to this belief. The Slavic vacationers had trouble walking and only could communicate through cellphones.
"That's part of it too, but look at these monsters. Darwin was cited as having said that we evolved from apes, but most of these Russian women's ancestors appear to have mated with walruses. Or sea lions at worst."
"I've heard this spiel before." In fact I was the one who told him it. "Along with there being no fat people in the Rolling Stones movie GIMME SHELTER.
"The only fat people at Altamont were the lead singer from Canned Heat, a cop, a Hell's Angel, and the naked fat guy who gets killed in the afternoon." Jamie covered his eyes, as two beer-bellied Russian men in g-strings walked past us.
"Obesity's a disgrace. And I heard today that this fat woman in Texas had a baby and she never knew she was pregnant. Her name was April."
"Not an ex-stripper at Pig Pens?" Jamie's previous go-go in Pattaya had featured 'chang noi' or little elephant dancers had lasted a year before the police shut it for moral indecency. Fat girls really like to talk dirty.
"No, I said an American." Jamie was a little cranky behind a few beers and knew that I like riding him in this state. "This cow goes into the hospital complaining about stomach pains and the doctors tell her she's having a baby. She weighed something like 420 pounds."
"The baby?" 420 pounds was over twice my weight.
"No, April. The baby was normal weight."
"420 pounds. How could she have sex?"
"That's an ugly thought."
Both of us watched two obese Russians waddle past our table like gigantic Jell-O figurines coming to life. We downed our beers and ordered two more. It would take a lot more than beer to shake off that image of fat people in coitus. More like vodka. It's fat-free.