Saturday, September 19, 2009
One Night Stand
It is a noisy bar on a Friday night. The bar itself is a beautiful concept - set in the bohemian capital of Brunswick St, it has attracted crowds of young people, backpackers and artistic souls alike. They were there to have a good time, to celebrate an anniversary, to people watch, to be watched, to drink a workweek's worth of frustrations away.
The place is decorated beautifully - coloured lights string the ceillings reminiscent of a seventies' American pubs in Vietnam, and, in keeping with the theme of the bar, toy soldiers were waging their little battles all along the pipes lining the walls of the bar.
The converted warehouse's high ceillings reverberate with the cacophony of chatter from the separate cliques of friends there that night, interspersed with the sparse background trance music which was present but not intrusive. Beer is flowing freely from the taps as people trade their red and yellow dollar notes for golden glasses of courage and forgetfulness.
It is in this gamut of frenzied interaction when you couldn't help but notice her. She stood alone for an extended period of time, which seemed really out of place in a joint like this. She was really tall for an Asian girl, and that made her stick out even more like a sore thumb.
She was dressed for a night out, you could see that she had paid extra attention to her make-up tonight. Her sky-blue sloping platform shoes snuggled the overly long legs which were covered with orange socks that travelled up to her knees. From then on, just the slightest peek of her thighs before her dress takes over, its rectangular shapes and array of colours matching her patterned handbag. Her hands were covered in delicate gloves, its lacy patterns perhaps belonging more to the wife of a Chinese kingpin from half a century ago.
Maybe that was her in a past life, then, the wife of an unscrupulous Chinese drug lord, and she is paying off her karma in this life, trapped in the body of this man instead.
Her/his chin is the first giveaway - masculine in its strong angular definition, his upper lips showed the faint shadow that layers of makeup could not hide. No amount of mascara could alter the downward turn of the edge of his eyes which completed his decidedly male facial features which a blind man could spot all the way from the other side of the bar.
The bar is as noisy as a protest, the loud chattering murmur punctuated by drunken laughter and shouts of recognition as new friends continued pouring in. Several girls were being chatted up by men of all ages tonight, but no one comes to talk to him.
The occasional pauses of conversation allowed the Friday night patrons eyes to wander, and inevitably, a few fall on him. The reactions are plethora - some snigger inwardly, others try to point him out discreetly to their friends, and others are not as discreet. But the question on their lips after "Is that actually a dude?" is "What is he doing here?".
His intentions are uncertain, but he looks like he is waiting for someone to pick him up or buy him a drink. Or just to talk about everything and nothing, like ordinary people were doing all around him.
He twirls his cascading hair, his eyes downcast and he is lost in thought. His body sways slightly as he dances in the arms of a make-believe lover. There is a ghost of a smile on his face as he returns to a different time.
Perhaps he is in a bar once more in Phuket, and it is Friday night there too. But there, he is among his other friends who had grown tired of being boys. Tonight, he would be out with them in a bar not unlike this one, but they would be laughing, getting pissed on a girls' night out in town, and perhaps he would be taken home by a nice man (they usually weren't) if the night went well.
Instead, he is here tonight, a stark phantom of loneliness haunting the bar where people tried their best to ignore him. He wanders to the menu board, trying to look interested and telling himself not to pay attention to the gnawing loneliness he felt inside.
Hours pass and the only person to talk to him was a girl who had been kind enough to exchange a few words with him when he compliments her on her sweater as she walks past him to get to the toilets. The conversation doesn't last beyond a few minutes as she ambles back to her laughing group of friends, leaving him once more to drift aimlessly.
He finally sits himself at the bar, and his eyes trawl the blackboard menu above the bartender's head. He decides on a beer, and he silently thanks the imaginary nice Caucasian man who had offered to buy him drinks tonight, who had held his hand as he recounted how his drunken dad once beat him so bad he had to be in hospital for weeks, and who had laughed at the story of how his mother caught him trying her clothes and high heels at home one day when he was sure that she was away visiting Auntie Pom in the hospital.
He reaches for his purse, and pays the bartender for the pleasure of another night in hell. And so he dies a slow death every night, doomed to pay off all his past sins, as he whispers a quiet prayer for a better life in his next reincarnation.