Cheap fucking Christmasy lights and tinny music and seedy open-air bars as far as the eye can see and I am so stung into wonder by the unbridled debauchery of the Patong nightlife that I find myself skipping - happy little girl style - and pointing at everything I see in such a way that all the traders are approaching me with the ching-ching sound of a cash register in their ears.
There’s madness everywhere and while I am impressed by the up-frontery of the hookers who show me their wares, and the persistence of the tailors who work 24/7, and the casualness of the animal handlers and the ferocity of the salesmanship in the Pirated-DVD guys, I am mostly impressed by the continual allusion of sex which overwhelms every nook and cranny of Patong in the same way that a house decorated with a freshly chopped Christmas tree is overwhelmed by the smell of pine.
Todd is wearing a T-Shirt with the word’s “TODD’S BUCK’S NIGHT written across the back in black marker. On the front is a grid with 36 squares and 36 tasks that he must complete by the night’s end ranging from sculling a beer to enacting a ‘Mick Dundee’ on a Lady-boy – which basically entails cupping his hand around her meat and two veg – and while I have my doubts that Todd can complete every task I am certain that he will dig deep and give it his very best shot.
A man dressed as a monkey selling half price passes to the Phuket Zoo appears on one side of me and I feel a scratchy weight on my shoulder as another man appears on the other side of me yelling, “You want photo? You want photo?” I do my best Arnold Schwarzenegger slow-mo glance in the direction of the scratchy weight until I bump my forehead against the open mouth of a giant fricken Iguana.
“Get it the fuck off me!” I scream, as I bolt ahead of the group thrusting my hips back and forward and shaking my chest like some crazy hot dancer from the 80’s hit Maniac. I am the cause of much mirth for the Buck’s group and Dennis comments, in a way that could be interpreted as semi-serious, that I have some impressive moves. Being in such a buoyant mood and happy that the man actually caught the giant Igauna before it fell to its death, I have to agree with Dennis – I did move very well and I’m sure that if I had performed those steps in a different context, say at a Blue Light Disco, I would have been an inspiration to many.
We find our way to The Malibu Bar which was secured for the Buck’s Night exclusively nights earlier and within seconds of perching myself on a bar stool three waitresses begin massaging my shoulders, arms and hands (I italicise waitresses here only to save myself from the effort of writing prostitutes and Lady-Boys). The effect it has on my intoxicated mind and body could only be matched by a shot of morphine and by the time I regain my clarity I am in need of a napkin to wipe the drool running from the corner of my mouth and something else to drink with a little kick in it.
Todd lines up several shots and we down them quickly as Jamie climbs a stripper’s platform and starts thrusting against the pole and within minutes of watching him gyrate and kick and swing I am convinced that he has participated in the highly popular pole-dancing fitness classes back in Aus. I make a note to tell him how impressed I am with his talent as I strike up a conversation with two of the other Buck’s – Buck 11 and 12 – who I met only hours before, and within minutes the inevitable, “And what do you do…” question is raised.
“I’m a stay-at-home-Dad,” I say.
Waitresses appear from nowhere to break the lingering silence with their shoulder-loosening fingers. After several seconds Buck 11 says, “That’s great. No, really. I’d love to be able to hang out with the kids all day. Go to the park and that.”
My mouth opens and then shuts and then repeats that pattern several times until I stick another shot into it. I then buy the waitress a shot, which guarantees her 50 Baht from the bar, and distract myself from replying to Buck 11 by refocussing on Todd’s efforts to cross off every box on his T-shirt. As I watch him proposition a Lady-boy, swap pants with a stranger, scull a pot while standing on his head and offer a sexual service to a merchant for 100 Baht, I am suddenly aware of the fact that Archie, Lewis and Tyson will one day start reading this blog and that this very post may be the one that confuses them the most.
I am interrupted by the urgent need to urinate and hightail it out and notice the toilets are right at the end of the long thoroughfare of bars. Todd, who is still negotiating with the Merchant – they have agreed on the sexual act Todd will perform but the merchant will not go above 80 Baht - stops the intense negotiations when he sees that I am heading in the direction of the toilets. “You should seriously think about taking someone with you, when you go for a slash,” he says. “The waitresses and Lady-boys can be very persistent about getting you into their bar.”
I shrug it off, laugh at him, and start walking in the direction of the toilets. I feel confident. I feel great. If the women and the he-she’s pressure me too strongly to enter their bars, I’ll simply ignore them and walk right by. I am a big, big boy and I can handle it.
As I approach the first bar several waitresses gather at the entrance so I hold one hand up, offer a pleasant expression and mouth No Thanks. Like a clumsy adolescent boy trying to reach second base on his first date it takes me a moment to realise that my raised hand has been seized. I am being dragged, violently, towards the bar by two waitresses and I whimper, pathetically, No I don't want it, as another grabs my leg and yet another goes directly to my nether-regions and works her hands in such a way that the meat is separated from the two veg in what appears to be a bizarre measuring-up ritual.
I am being shunted towards the bar paralysed and conflicted by the fact that my genitals are being handled so expertly by a woman – who may or may not have a penis herself – at the same time that my will and sense of self is being shattered by an effective Phuketian gang-tackle that I lose all ability to think my way out, and it seems my fate is sealed, until another waitress jumps on my back and reignites the memory of the giant Igauna, and I know what I must do.
I channel the energy of the Maniac with every ounce of effort available to me and recreate the dance that served me so well only hours before, and to understand the effort and emotional intensity involved I urge you to watch this clip –
In my mind I am suitably dressed in tight black leotards with white cotton wrist bands and I flick and gyrate and buck and thrust and jump and dive and punch out and one by one the waitresses release me and fall away until I am back out in the thoroughfare panting like an overworked racehorse and jerking all around like that little squirrel chasing the nut in the Ice Age series. With urine on the horizon I have no choice but to Maniac my way past all the bars on the way to the toilets and in this fashion manage to deflect and avoid dozens of genital-scented hands without more than a few mills of leakage.
After doing my business, I stand at the sink for several minutes convincing myself that I have what it takes to make it back and then I hear Todd behind me.
"It's okay. Wait for me. I 'll show you how."
He returns a minute later and guides me to the entrance of the thoroughfare.
"Don't leave me," I say.
He smiles, takes off like Usain Bolt and screams, "Let's just keep going RD. Let's just keep going!" as waitresses bounce off him or dive back inside their bars for their own safety.
I decide I need some real motivation to gee myself up and give me every chance of making it all the way to the Malibu Bar and so I settle on what I feel is the most appropriate song to sing - "My body's nobody's body but mine, you've got your own body, let me have mine," I bellow with all my might, as I take off running faster than I have ever run in my life, not sure if I actually have enough energy left to break free of the waitresses clutches.
They lunge, reaching for me. "Let me have mine," I scream.
Let me have mine.... !