An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Old Ben Franklin is an impressive historical figure. An inventor, scientist, diplomat, legislator, and one of our country’s founding fathers, Ben is credited with inventing the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, and even the odometer. Ben also created the urinary catheter, but you don’t hear much about that. He’s also well known for his witticisms, many of which are still quoted today. He was in fact so prolific in coming up with aphorisms full of wisdom, you have to suspect whenever old Ben walked into a room, there was a lot of eye rolling going on and a large portion of the gathering suddenly found themselves in need of seeing a man about a horse or remembering an equally pressing engagement they had to rush off to.
We all owe Ben a tip of the hat for identifying the wonders of positive and negative electricity. Unfortunately he also came up with the saying “early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise’. And for that one, many wish Ben had fried his ass that stormy morning he was out flying his kite. Morning people love that quote and use it often to justify why they are up so early, cloaking themselves in ancient wisdom as though the rest of us really care. No one likes smug people. Especially at 6am. If you were truly wise, you’d know that. And if you are gonna start crowing about early birds getting the worm at me when the sun has barely opened its eyes, you’d better have already had your apple for the day too ‘cuz you are gonna need that protection. Or as Ben advised: When in doubt, don’t.
God made a farmer not so that the farmer could buy a Dodge Ram truck, but so that someone on his planet would be up at the crack of dawn. He came up with that sacrificial lamb so the rest of mankind could roll over and catch another few hours of sleep. The early bird gets the worm? Yup. Right. But only those the night owl couldn’t be bothered with. Enjoy your morning worm, I had mine late last night and found it floating at the bottom of a bottle of Tequila.
Meet the crack of dawn.
I’m a night owl. My day only begins before noon when I have no choice in the matter. And after flying through several time zones, an act that plays havoc with early birds’ circadian rhythms, I’m in sync with local time in Thailand and raring to go when the day begins. Which is around 8pm. The bars of Soi Twilight don’t get going until 10 o’clock, DJ Station isn’t happening until midnight, and there is no reason to go to G.O.D. until 2am. At the earliest. The only people who should get up at the crack of dawn in Bangkok are monks. And that’s because they aren’t allowed to go out and party the night before.
Not being a morning person, I’m not big on breakfasts either. But Thai bar boys – one of which usually wakes up next to me – are. Especially when they are free (the breakfast, not the bar boy). That means having to get up at the ungodly hour of ‘before 10am’ at most hotels in Thailand. The only saving grace to Tarntawan Place is they will serve you breakfast all day. With primarily a gay clientele, they know few of us want to face eggs of any sort bright and early in the day. Any hotel that claims to be gay-friendly that cuts off breakfast at 10am is obviously faking it and hasn’t a clue about what gay men visiting Thailand are up to. And it ain’t about rainbows. Just sayin’.
I’m not big on organized packaged tours either. There is plenty to see and do during a holiday, and ample modes of transportation to get there that you don’t need to subject yourself to spending the day packed into a bus with a bunch of other clueless farang being shepherded from one souvenir stand to the next. Fortunately those tours cater to the type of people who are proud of the worm they just ate. Even while ignoring the equally popular saying: a fool and his money are soon parted. Those tours always leave at just about the hour I’m finally drifting into blissful REM sleep. The bonus for me is that by the time I’ve decided it is time to start injecting caffeine into my system, all of those people whom I don’t want to associate with anyway are on their third or fourth souvenir stand of the day, leaving the hotel to those of us who realize 11:59 still qualifies as morning.
A job worth doing is worth doing well.
When the phone rings at an hour only roosters are supposed to be making noise – because I stupidly remembered to arrange for a wake-up call the night before – getting my ass to actually get out of bed is a chore. Getting Noom, my bar boy friend and current love of my life, to get his ass out of bed too is an impossibility. But then he knows he has another 20 minutes to doze while I shower. And then another 10 minutes or so after that during which I’m content just sitting and gazing at the wonder that is his naked body. That would normal only take me 5 minutes, but his morning erection is worth another five minutes in its own. I’m not sure which witty saying of Ben’s, the one about beating around the bush or the one about being between a rock and a hard place, is more applicable at those times, But then I’ve never been good about thinking when my mouth is full. Maybe I should just go with ‘the cream always rises to the top’. Or ‘practice makes perfect’.
Noom is not big on popular English sayings, but is big on promises. Especially those made to him. Even when they weren’t intended as such. My reply of, “Maybe next time” when he said he’d like to go to Bali with me as I headed off to that island paradise during one trip evidently was one of those times. I meant, “Hey I’m busy packing here, if you want me to pay attention to you get naked.” He heard, “Yes, next trip I make I will fly you off to Indonesia for a week of sun and sand.” And promised or not, you can’t get the toothpaste back in the tube. Even if Ben didn’t come up with that one.
Between two evils I always pick the one I haven’t tried before. Not that Noom qualifies as evil. My plans for him in Bali were a different story. We’ve travelled often enough together outside of Thailand that I knew what to expect. A firm believer in the adage that there’s no defense like a good offense, soon after landing Noom would begin a never-ending comparison of everything we did and saw with his beloved homeland with said homeland always coming out on top. It’s a Thai thing. And, I’d been to Bali enough times to know what to expect too. Which is not the mystical, magical paradise it somehow managed to snag as a rep but rather so-so beaches, a tourist scene that makes Khaosan Road at its rowdiest look tame, and a populace of liars, thieves, con men, pimps, and prostitutes. Close but no cigar. Not to mention forewarned is forearmed. It’s but a thin line between idiom and cliche.
Too big for his britches
Knowing there’s more than one way to skin a cat, rather than making Noom’s job of not finding fault with Thailand any easier, I decided we’d skip the hustle, bustle, and puke filled gutters of Kuta, pass on the not so tranquil serenity of Ubud – sorry, but it is physically impossible for a Monkey Forest and serenity to abide in the same space – and instead call the slightly nicer and less crowded beaches, slightly less touristy, and somewhat more paradisiacal hamlet of Seminyak our version of Bali. Oh, did I mention the clothing optional gay guest house? Ah well, better late than never.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And the immigration line is blocked by clueless Thai bar boys who for the first time in their relationship attempt to scale the mighty cliffs of a foreign country’s customs and immigration on his own. I’m not sure if “I told you so” counts as either a cliche or proverbial saying. I am sure it is the wrong phrase to use in such a situation. Discretion being the better part of valor, I kept my mouth shut and stepped in to rescue Noom from the bureaucratic local officials who just weren’t falling for his gregariously toothy, all-embracing smile as is usually the case. As a reward he didn’t question why we had to wait for a Blue Bird taxi when there were dozens of drivers clamoring for our fare. Nor did he take the time to compare taxis and their drivers in Bali with those back home. No good deed goes unrewarded. And no ride in any other cab company’s vehicle in Bali goes un-ripped off.
“Dis nice!” is Noom’s expression for any place that pleases him. And our hotel and room both got a, “Dis nice!” As did Calego Beach after I’d prodded him past the hotel’s fortunately un-utilized swimming pool, preferring to leave its popular use as a nude swimming hole for a future discussion. ’Cuz his ignorance promised at my bliss.
Possession is nine-tenths of the law.
We spent the afternoon at the beach (a safe from comparison endeavor ‘cuz Noom had not yet been to Phuket and couldn’t admit to having been to Pattaya), had a delicious dinner at a local cafe that only served fish (and you know my feelings about eating fish though in this case it was more about a carrot and my stick than aquatic fare), and then retired back to our hotel room for a bit of my favorite roomside activity. And lots and lots of his: sleep.
Even though Bali is an hour ahead of Bangkok we were up early the next morning almost beating the sun to its daily task. I showered. Noom slept. And then stole another fifteen minutes of sleep through his well-used practice of throwing off the covers to doze naked while I pay my proper respect to the gifts the gods have given him. Every man has a price. Mine is a bit more than a sneak peak, Noom’s is a few more minutes of shut-eye. Huh. Did I already use the rock and a hard place one?
With the quiet of the morning suggesting everyone else in residence was still sleeping the previous night off, and figuring despite his being used to showing his body off before an audience I might have better luck if some privacy was involved, I suggested we take a dip in the pool. Noom was game. And quickly dug his might-as-well-be-naked swimming suit out of his bag.
Too many cooks . . . ah, screw it. That was a reach. I just liked this photo.
“Um, you won’t be needing those.”
“Yup, but here we swim nude. It’s a clothing optional hotel.”
I assumed optional had stumped him. “It means guests don’t have to wear clothes. Everyone uses the pool without wearing swimming trunks.” “You swim naked,” I added in respect for clarity.
Well, everyone except Noom. Noom has a million facial expressions that he relies on rather than use English. Or his vocal chords. I’ve seen most of them. But that one was a new one for me. It went from surprised to embarrassment to an unrelenting paranoia of being in a strange room, with a suddenly strange man, under circumstances strangely familiar. He went from shock to disagreeing to almost agreeing back to disagreeing. And then being unable to decide yes, he decided no.
Yeah, I know. Me too. Misery loves company.
A friend in need is a friend indeed.
We went for a dip anyway. It wasn’t the less sandy version of the beach scene from From Here To Eternity I’d envisioned. But considering the swimsuit Noom did wear, it still would have garnered at least a R rating. We floated, we raced, we played around splashing each other. And then I stripped off my suit, both as encouragement and as example. Noom quickly paddled over, grabbed my trunks, and held them in front of what I’d just exposed. There is no Santa Claus. And good things don’t come to he who waits.
I did finally manage to pull the back of his suit down during some horseplay, and with no one around Noom surrendered to the inevitable allowing me the sight of his gorgeous ass glistening in the early morning sunlight as he floated in the water. Okay, so maybe Bali does deserve it mystical magical rep. At least when Noom’s ass graces its shores.
Knowing Noom’s love of cultural activities when we travel outside of Thailand, we spent most of our time In Bali shopping. He was less than pleased that the local temples didn’t consider him Hindu enough to gain admittance, and was more than pleased to be able to take that slight out on the monkeys at Uluwatu. I think he noticed Tanah Lot, but fear his mind was preoccupied with deciding on the list of souvenirs he’d be buying with my wallet on our way back to the parking lot. I kept outings and excursions to a minimum – yes, partially in hope that boredom would lead us back to the pool again – the beach, dining out, and hitting a few clubs at night became our routine. Familiarity may breed contempt, but with a tropical sunset lighting the scene, it ain’t so bad of a life. Needless to say, the early bird didn’t get the worm it had dreamed about and despite my carefully laid plans our tropical vacation turned out to be just a cliche of the proverbial tourist experience in Bali.
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