Saturday, August 6, 2016

THE AMNESIA OF ME by Peter Nolan Smith

Eight years ago I was sitting on Pattaya's notorious Soi 6 listening to SOMEBODY TO LOVE6. As I grooved to the Jefferson Airplane's hit, a trio of sub-20 Thai girls had invited me to visit an upstairs short-time room.

“You sexy man. How old you? 40?” asked the youngest.

Even through beer goggles my mirror doesn’t lie more than 49.

"Older."

"45?"

"Gair-gwar?"

"50?"

"More?"

"Buah, you not old. You boran." The bar-girls was tired of the guessing game and they went to seek out younger picking.

Boran meant ancient in Thai.

I was ancient to someone south of twenty, but as my friend Tidball was wont to say, "I like to think of myself as the Acropolis. In a state of ruins, but you can tell once it must have been something."

I left Soi 6 before someone accused me of being gao or decrepit.

Back in Jomtien my wife laughed upon hearing these girls thinking I was boran.

"You old man, but you my old man." Her belly swelled with our child.

"And you are thuut-sawn."

"Barg wan." My angel led me into the house. She loved sweet talk, which was very popular in Pattaya, which was a refuge for men not wanting to face their age and to misquote TS Eliot. “As I get old I shall wear my trousers rolled where the women don’t speak about Michelangelo.”

No one in Pattaya had ever mentioned Michaelangelo, unless they were a Ninja Turtle fan.

I’ve been old for a long time, but the old age truck never blows its horn when it backs up over you and I never forgot the first time I became old.

Back in 1986 I returned to New York from Paris. I had sublet my East Village apartment to a Swede. Sven moonlighted as a bouncer at Danceteria. Everyone liked him and he liked black chicks. I had no trouble with the male nurse. He paid the rent on time and helped the super with the plumbing.

When I informed him that I was coming back for good, Sven moved out three days before my return. Nothing was missing in my flat. Not one of my books or records or clothing. Even the old lady next door, Mrs. Adorno, said good for Sven.

“He good man. He like chocolate ladies.” The old witch was in love with the young Swede. She was only 4-10 with chronic pains from a spinal injury. “He help me with my back. I miss him already.”

“What about me?” I had been gone six years.

“Not miss you long time.” The bruja waved a hex sign. “You old man.”

“Old man.” I was 34.

“I old. I know old, viejo.” Senora Adorno slammed shut the door.

Mrs Adorno was right, however my heart was forever 15 and I swore that I was going to be young forever, despite the old bruja’s curse.

But time was slipping away.

My college friends were employed as lawyers, realtors, bankers, and doctors.

Real jobs weren’t for me.

Arthur Weinstein got me a spot at the door of the Milk Bar. The club on lower 7th Avenue was decorated like the Malchek Bar in CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Scottie Taylor the owner hid in an egg chair. His manager ran the bar and hired the help. She had good taste in funny people and in late-September we had a new bargirl. Shane came from the UK. Her ambition was to be a pop singer. She had dreads and a cute body. I never hit on her and she asked if I had anything against black girls.

“You’re more high yellah than black.” More Chinese than African too.

“So why don’t you take me home?” Shane was forward and I couldn’t think of a single reason for not taking up her offer. I was single. She was over 18. We rode on my Yamaha 650 to East 10th Street. As I parked my motorcycle on the sidewalk Shane looked at the building.

“What?”

“I’ve been here before.” The declaration wasn’t based on deja vu.

“Let me guess. With Sven.”

“Yes.” She followed me upstairs without any danger of her disappearing like Orpheus’ dead wife.

I had a joint and she liked smoking weed. All Rasta girls do.

Once inside the apartment she picked up an LP.

The Mothers of Invention’s FREAK OUT.

I put it on the stereo.

Hearing HELP I’M A ROCK Shane laughed, "This is your apartment, right?"“I was here more than once. I would look at the records and wonder who lived here.”

“Who did you think it was?” My apartment a classic homage to the 1960s. Wood covered the walls like a rural shack. Bathtub was in the kitchen and the water closet was in the back.

“Seeing these LPs I thought it was some old hippie."

“Hippie?” I had hitchhiked to San Francisco in 1971 three years too late for the Summer of Love.

"Yes, an old hippie."

Mrs. Adorno was right. Shane was right and I couldn’t bring myself to make love with Shane. No newly old man should resurrect his youth in a young woman’s flesh. I didn’t have such a problem later in life, because old can get very old without the young.

Still no one in America has called me sexy since high society interior designer Tony Ingrao bought a 20-carat Burmese blue sapphire from me. At our celebratory dinner he cooed, “You’re very sexy. For an old man.”

Tony only wanted sex.

As opposed to my wife who wants my heart and soul, despite my age, but during my money-making sojourns to New York I have learned the hard way that “As you get old you forget. As you get older you are forgotten.”

The other day a woman sent a query to my Facebook page.

“Are you who I think you are?”

It was Shane. I remembered her well. I wrote back that I had worked at the Milk Bar as the doorman. Her reply came as a surprise.

“I’m sorry I worked at the Milk Bar too, but I don’t think you’re the person I was thinking…It was all such a long time ago…Take care.”

Not who I thought you were?

Shane must have wiped her memory clean.

‘Old hippie’.

Those two words castrated my pride, then again we never had sex, still her epistle on Facebook reveals she has forgotten about me 100% and the words 'old hippie' too.

She was wrong, for while I might not have long hair, I still listen to Jefferson Airplane and I will never forget KICK OUT THE JAMS MOTHERFUCKERS.

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