Saturday, December 29, 2007

Smokey Joe's Cafe (aka My Little Town

It's about 5.30pm on any night and I'm camped at and sipping whatever on a faux marble and stone bench and cramped table outside the mom and (no pop in sight) corner store next to my rooming house. The sun is plunging quickly on the radioactive green foothills outside Hua Hin; a temporary tapestry of (I'm color blind, don't trust me on this lyrical, colorful description) yellows, oranges, blues, azure, turquoise that bleed together as night also sets in making my heart bleed for a moment. I can hear the waves crashing on the stone jetties a block just to the east. The store's owner, a 30ish but looks younger woman who kinda reminds me of a younger Thai Miss Kitty from the ancient TV western Gunsmoke, keeps the customers satisfied. Watch her walk. A snake shake that won't let go and snappy advice if you need it.

Beers, pop, chips, squid, sugar, salt, sardines, halibut, energy drinks (ramped-up Thai versions of Red Bull) the occasional women's-only product, water, general juju, advice etc. all overseen by her mother in law - a hulking elderly and stoic soul - flow faster than the sun is setting.

Outside the guy I call "Che Guevera Barbcue" is setting up shop with his portable barbcue stand (a 150 cc Suzuki motorbike welded to a charcoal burning pit and meat rack - Thailand may be the only place in the world where you can get hit and killed by a diner while crossing the road) in his black and white muscle shirt.

Though tonight it's not Che on chest display, but 1992 era Guns and Roses. Che Barbecue is in excellent shape for someone aged late 30s in tight, always-pressed faded blue jeans and an array of well-fitting wife beater t-shirts - all black and white advertising sorta, kinda mostly hip at some time or another - rock, pop and cultural icons.

School's letting out and the kids are crowding in now. I'm suddenly back in Boulder, Colorado after a day at Uni Hill Elementary grubbing like a savage for Almond Joys and pop, Snickers perhaps too, and a glimpse at Playboy at the Country Store just a few blocks down from Mrs Pollard's 6th grade classroom. No Playboys here, but candy, pop and conversation - more than any clerk at the Country Store was ever able or willing to make (and who can blame them?) - at Hua Hin's Corner Store.

Some kids arrive on scooters, others in BMWs and some in lesser SUVs. And a few on foot or bike. Miss Kitty serves them all quickly and fairly, and I am happy to see she ignores the BMW asswad who has parked outside honking incessantly for car delivery although she is quick on the run for the local cop also who wants energy drink takeaway and make-it-fast. All politics is local and her mother in law keeps a running commentary to keep her and the customer bigwigws in line and satisfied.

For a brief moment I'm content and at peace in my little town.


Ben said...

A nice read again.

"...content and at peace..." What better condition is there for the human soul? Add "fat and happy" and I suppose we'd have it all.

Glad you're able to make a home wherever your roaming takes you. And, have a happy new year Justin. I can't think of anybody closer to the International Date Line, so you'll be the first person I know to see it in.

Chuck said...

a happy new year to you. i hope this message indeed finds you content. i've only seen pictures of hua hin on the web, but thanks to your prose, i can see them more clearly the closer the view gets. perhaps when i make my trip to shanghai and other points in the far east, i can find my way to hua hin and hook up with you for a drink and some discussion about the "good old days." by the way, the blimp is back in china next year. i'll have the pilot wave to c for you. best, and have a good year in 2008.