Thursday, May 5, 2011

How To Wrestle A Madwoman | Phi Phi Islands

in the bay at Phi Phi Island Thailand

Traveling with my daughter Aimee was never dull. Little did she know that on our first night in Phi Phi, a yellow and black snake almost five feet long had slithered over us as she lay sleeping. I had just tucked in beside her on our floor mat and closed my eyes when I sensed something and sat up and looked around the dimly lit room.  My first thought was of the big hairy spider that had leaped out from behind a mirror that afternoon.

I froze as I watched it creep across us, eyeballing it as it glided first over her belly and then over my thighs and over the edge of the bed and off.  Gathering up a sheet, I bunched it up and threw it over the snake and pushed it out the door, tucked our mosquito netting in and went back to sleep. It was a nasty snake, but not nearly as nasty as the snake from the Garden of Eden I was about to meet up with.

The next day Aimee and I moved, enough of the snakes and hairy things. I knocked on the door of a beach house that had a sign planted in the sand out front with an arrow saying 'Thai Massage' and 'Rooms.' A stark-naked blond woman of about sixty with breasts shaped like papayas answered the door. She hauled her breasts out of the way and said 'come in, come in, I'm just a guest here,' as if it were totally normal to nauseate strangers who are seeking a room. 'Don't mind me,' she said. As I stood there garping at her loose flesh, an old fat Thai woman came into the room wiping her hands on a tea towel, who said yes, I could stay there, but I would have to stay in the front room on a double bed because all her rooms were full. Fine by me. 'This is a Christian home,' she informed me. 'I could tell by my reception,' I said. My bed was in a large room surrounded by windows and filled with blankets, pillows, towels, and massage equipment. I still couldn't get my eyes over the Swedish cake marching all over the house naked with just her teeny pair of knickers to cover her nest, her thin skin rippling like a breeze over water. I knew she was completely nuts. How the hell did she get there? And why was she allowed to walk around like that?

I was starting to like the islands. That night Aimee and I went out with Elaine and Gina to a fabulous seafood restaurant. Elaine and Gina, two British women I had met in Krabi, were drinking Mekong Whiskey and encouraged me to buy a pint even though I'd heard it was the worst rotgut in the world, its main ingredient being formaldehyde. They disagreed, saying they had been drinking it since they had arrived in Thailand with no nasty side effects, so I ordered a bottle. After finishing dinner and our whiskey we went to the beach and stayed there half the night with some other people we met who had music and tapes and were loads of fun. We swam and talked, and when Aimee was tired, I tucked her into a sleeping bag beside me. A full moon lit up the bay and it was gorgeous beyond belief. We all had a gay old time.

the exotic bay at Phi Phi Island Thailand

When I finally made it back to the house at 3am with Aimee, the old woman was up and at it and all fired up and shook her fist and gave me grief for having my child out at that time. She went on about herself being a Christian and why wasn't I being a responsible Christian parent, blah, blah, blah and all this crazy shit. I ignored her and went to bed. It was too late to get into it. The first time I'm out past 10pm with my kid and I get flak from this old bag of wind?

The next day I woke up with the worst hangover in my entire life; I felt like my head had been shot off and reattached with pliers. The old Thai woman's son gave me a head massage and I lay down and slept it off. Later on that night, I met up with Gina and Elaine again, but I had a quiet night because my head was still in recovery. I had left Aimee at the house because she wanted to stay there and watch television and everything seemed to be fine, but when I came back at about 9pm the Swedish cake told me that Aimee had been crying for me and that it had totally irritated the old Thai woman. I shrugged and packed up all my gear and tied up my knapsack and then went to bed, but I never got undressed because intuitively I just knew shit was coming down the pike in the morning. What I didn't realize, was just how much shit.

She didn't waste any part of the morning. At 7am, the old Thai woman strode into the living room where I was sleeping with Aimee and started thrashing around the place saying that I had to find another room as Aimee was crying the night before, and I wasn't there, and what kind of Christian was I, and finally, that I didn't deserve to have a child. Whoa. Back off Satan.

I leaped out of bed ready to go and told Aimee to get dressed, we were leaving. The old woman snarled that she wanted her money for the two nights that I had stayed and I snarled back that I was owed the money for having had to put up with her bitchy fat ass for two days. But as I was tying up the laces on my shoes and Aimee was putting on her dress, she came at me with a massage roller that she had picked up, a long, rounded piece of assault weapon that she held over her head as she ran at me like a cracked-out banshee. I grabbed her two wrists as she was about to strike and we wrestled and danced left to right, right to left, and I was struck by how strong the old cow was for her age and how I didn't think I could hold her off for much longer. Aimee started to cry and scream and hung on to the old woman's arm that carried her up off her feet, crying 'don't hurt my Mommy, don't hurt my Mommy.' I was yelling, telling her to back off or I'd kill her, when her son ran into the room and grabbed his mother's arms and twisted them behind her back. He pried the massage mallet out of her hand and tossed it into a corner and hauled the old woman backwards, shouting at her in Thai. He looked at me, 'get out now, just go. Sorry, my mother...'

I was missing one shoe, I had sprained my finger, my hand was cut, and I had a traumatized daughter by the time we finally slammed out the front door, the old woman still yelling from the back of the house, arguing with her son. An audience stood collectively outside their huts watching us limp away, but I was positive they'd seen it all before and I waved to them. The woman was totally mad. She was a Christian.