Friday, January 4, 2008

"Supposed to be a funeral, it's been a bad, bad day..." - Gram Parsons, $1,000 Wedding

Actually, it's been a four day funeral outside my rooming house on Soi 51 this week. There's a large, Thai middle class street front restaurant about a block away that has suspended business for services for a woman who was probably an owner. Whoever she was she was "important," say colleagues who've been here much longer than me and attended a few lengthy Thai funerals themselves.

"Anything longer than two days means the stiff was a big deal" said one. Monday evening I initially thought the traditional Thai music snaking into the street and rows of plastic white lawn chairs on the sidewalk and somber looking Thais in dressy casual wear that I threaded politely through in an awkward effort to get into the mom and pop store next to the restaurant for two bottles of water and some toilet paper was some sort of entertainment event sponsored by the eatery. But glancing up into the (empty) restaurant without trying to look like I was gawking, I noted a large color photo of a hefty woman in a bouffant hairdo surrounded acres of garlands as well as about 8 or 9 monks sitting near the display.

After returning to my room the music stopped and the almost atonal, yet sonorous, chanting of the monks began ceaselessly it seemed. That was followed by what may have been spoken blessings and eulogies - all until almost 11pm. The pattern has been pretty much the same all week except last night I was heartened to see a bored boy and girl, maybe 5 and 6 years old, who'd snuck away from the funeral and were dancing to the chanting behind a pickup truck. Walking back into the lobby of my place there was another surprise. It's an large open area that used to be a bar, now with only two large stuffed blue gray vinyl arm chairs. Sitting in one was a stranger, a young man sobbing into his hands. I had no clue. Was he a mourner? Or just a random stranger off the street who just needed a place to sit and cry for a moment?

"Sawahdee krup," I mumbled in greeting and went quickly upstairs. When I came back out 20 minutes later he was gone.

About two hours later I was in a bar with several coworkers watching what one Brit pal calls "Zed-Zed" Top (ZZ Top) videos while a drunk German began lambasting American rock 'n' roll and the varied ways we use the word "fuck." "Eeez digusting!" he opined. "Like your rock and roll. Rude stuff!"

I tried the rational approach first by explaining that the f-word is actually a linguistic marvel. It can express any emotion from hatred: "Fuck you, Wagner, Beethoven, Scorpions and Kraftwerk!" to sheer admiration: "ZZ Top is fuckin' great...Top kicks fuckin' ass!"

I continud. "You see, Franz, it can be used as a verb, both transitive ('Hans fucked Greta') and intransitive ('Marta was fucked by Klaus'). It can be an action verb ('Heinrich really gives a fuck'), a passive verb ('Eva really doesn't give a fuck'), an adverb ('Heidi is fucking interested in Rudolf'), or as a noun ('Gretel is a terrific fuck').

"It can also be used as an adjective (ZZ Top is a fucking great band) or an interjection (Fuck! I'm late for the ZZ Top concert). It can even be used as a conjunction (Heinrich is a fool, fuck, he's also stupid and doesn't recognize how ZZ Top fuckin' rocks)..."

Franz was not impressed and switched the topic why Americans also suck due to George W Bush.

I lost it then. Not cuz I'm a Bush lover, of course. Just sick of sharing the blame and shame overseas. "I'm no more responsible for Bush than your grandfather was for Hitler! Hey, by the way, Franz, what did your Grandfather Schickelgruber do during the war?"

"Phook you, jah!" Franz replied. I foolishly pressed on. "Oh wait! I know! Your grandpapa was a simple shop keeper, right? An unsung ubermensch? But with no clue as to what was going on? Six million, Franz! You know what that number means?"

"Your Red Indians! You Amerikanz killed them too!" he spat back. "Yeah, we did," I snarled as a coworker began to separate us. "But we didn't build factories for it."

8 comments:

davesgonechina said...

I see that local HuaHin conversation continues to be of the highest caliber.

Hey, I sent you a gmail invite. You should sign up.

Anonymous said...

Used as an interjection, adjective, noun and adverb in a single sentence:

"Oh fuck, the fucking fucker's fucked!"

Peter said...

Gotta love Bush bashing, but not sure I would blame all Americans for putting the chimp in office.

Stories like these are usually heard just before someone punches someone else for being an idiot. Luckily you didn't have to :-)

Anonymous said...

I believe the Active and Passive Verbs you site are really "gives", not "fuck" (If one purports to give a fuck about grammar...)

John said...

Since my grammer is pretty fucking bad, I really don't know the answer but fuck it, I'll ask anyway.

Can fuck also be used as a gerund? And by the way, what the fuck is a gerund?

Sam said...

In the first half of that entry, you used the word "couple" at least four times.

It read very badly. Very unusual from you.

Justin said...

Noted "Sam." Thanks for taking the time to count as you read. Very unusual for you. But thanks for caring.

Anonymous said...

If you used this example in elementary schools, kids might finally find grammar interesting.