The days at Colin’s place definitely took place in Thai time, each flowing pretty imperceptibly into the next. The big meal of the day happened at lunchtime, on either side of which Colin worked assiduously on the ninth book in the Dr. Siri series, due in part to some panicky goading from his publisher. He writes his early drafts in longhand, and from time to time must cast about looking for the particular notebook that might provide some continuity among the notebooks he has been able to turn up thus far.
Evenings were loose, however, for chatting, snacking, and attending to the needs and whims of the dogs. For my last night there, we decided to build a campfire beneath the leaning palm tree, using for fuel assorted combustible crapola that had accumulated on the beach over the past week or so. There seems no end to the aforementioned combustibles, the saving grace being that the ocean will usually take them back sooner or later if they are not used in the meantime. Palm fronds, bamboo sticks, unidentifiable wooden items presumably dropped from boats (or perhaps pieces that once constituted boats), coconut husks, chunks of furniture—the list of campfire materials went on and on.
Shortly after dark we headed out to the beach, with all six dogs in tow, and a cooler full of beer, cheese and crackers. There was a nice breeze off the ocean, and it cooperated for the most part by blowing the smoke in a direction away from where we were sitting. The conversation was all over the board, as it had been all week, for that matter: girls; cars; Thailand; travels; jokes; plans for the near future; etc.
And then at one point, the discussion turned to music. I had listened to a CD of Mongolian throat singers early in my stay at Colin’s, and this led me to believe that he must have at least as eclectic tastes in music as I do. That was confirmed when I happened upon his “ukulele disco hits” CD, with lyrics all in Thai. No home should be without one. Except mine.
Colin and I are but a year apart in age, although we grew up on opposite sides of the Atlantic. I was curious to know what songs and artists might have made the transoceanic jump successfully (and by extrapolation, which hits had stayed firmly rooted in their home countries), and mentioned a couple of tunes I liked. This started a several-hour beer-fueled music dialogue that culminated in our crafting the Ultimate Awful Song List of All Time.
I had done this at least one time before, while traveling through the Sahara Desert with my ex-wife Cyndi, on what turned out to be a very extended honeymoon. For lack of something better to do, we took turns naming the worst songs we could think of, and, if we remembered the words, singing them badly. This was in the 1980s, so the choices were necessarily more limited, but there was no shortage of material, I guarantee that.
Fast forward to 2012, and I launched the first salvo with Morris Albert’s “Feelings”, a staple at karaoke bars worldwide, and guaranteed to engender the throwing of eggs (particularly in Asia, where it is rendered as “Feerings”). This was rapidly followed up with “You’re Having My Baby”, “Honey”, “Ebony and Ivory”, “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo”, “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero”, “MacArthur Park”, “The Pina Colada Song”, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon”, “Muskrat Love”, “Seasons in the Sun”, anything by Kenny Rogers, “You Light Up My Life”, “From a Distance”, “I Am Woman”, “Achy Breaky Heart”—you get the idea. The culmination of this exercise was an impromptu duet rendition of “They’re Coming to Take Me Away”, which I am ashamed to say that both of us remembered word for word in its entirety (thus using valuable brain space which could easily be utilized more profitably; indeed, it is hard to imagine using brain cells less profitably), and which I am sure has never been sung so badly in Thailand (or anywhere), and may never be again. Some performances leave no room for an encore, and we shortly toddled off to our respective sleeping places, presumably to dream about the awful songs we’d forgotten, like that heinous ballad by Bread about the guy who finds his girlfriend’s diary underneath a tree…