Once the steel shutter is drawn down garage-style over this storefront entrance on a main road in Krabi town, a series of large, overlapping rugs with low tables are laid out onto the sidewalk, along with a huge rear-projection TV screen. Spider senses tingling, I sit down and order myself an overly sugary and really quite terrible drink so as to be supplied with a pot of free Thai tea. Onto the screen is played some Arnold Schwarzenegger film that I hadn't before seen but involved, surprisingly enough, lots of explosions. (The movie was shown in Thai, without English subtitles, but I had absolutely no trouble following along. I actually quite enjoyed listening to a Thai dub of Arnold's voice, complete with thick eastern European accent!)
Because I can't help myself, I was flirting with one of the ubiquitous pretty Thai waitresses, and she joined me at my table as we both talked (to the degree we were capable) and sketched pictures in my notebook. I really wanted to ask her out as, contrary to most experiences with Thai girls, I thought she might actually be flirting with me legitimately and not just out of occupation. However, I chickened out at the last second (as is usually the case) and walked away with a quick goodbye.
Berating myself for cowardice (as I often do), I turned around and - making no effort to hide my intentions - walked right up and asked her out for a drink later that night. Enduring the giggling of her peers she enthusiastically accepted, and my bravery was vindicated. She asked that I come back at about 12:30am, when we would join up with some of her friends and go out.
The appointed hour comes up, she's there, and the date is on - maybe. Like most guy/girl relationships in my life, I rarely know where exactly we stand, and thus I'm always hesitant to raise my expectations. My brothers "waveform theory" has instructed me that low expectations are always the best expectations because all surprises are then good surprises. But all I know is that a very pretty and charming Thai girl is piling me into a car with her friends to go out drinking and dancing, so things can't be all that bad.
We pull up before a pumping nightclub, hop out, and walk in. The place is absolutely packed: it's a large room, perhaps 75' to a side square, with 10' ceilings exposing black-painted duct work interleaved with thud-synchronized colored lights. On the far side of the room is a low stage hosting a rotation of local boy-bands and girl-bands, all of which have spent much more effort on coordinating acrobatic dance moves with live vocal performance than I've seen on a local stage before.
Throughout the floor are jammed countless round tables, maybe 2' diameter, and we pull two up side by side and somehow find six empty chairs to accommodate our group. I'm a bit dazed and confused as I don't know the procedure here, but soon a waitress slides up and my date takes control. Before long the waitress returns with a tray piled with glasses, snacks, ice, bottles of coke, and a large bottle of whiskey. I fork up cash for the first round and we get to sipping and drinking. The music is loud and ceaseless, and I ask her to dance. She says "Ok," and I ask here where the dance floor is. She just points to the ground, and it finally dawns on me that there is only one floor to the room, and it's all danceable.
I shake it with her and the other surrounding girls (white guys get lots of attention in Southeast Asia, which is an unusual pleasure) and before long the whiskey is all gone. I suggest we order another bottle, and she asks "Will you buy me some cigarettes?" I scoff and tell her that no, I won't, but somehow cigarettes appear and the only money that ever exchanges hands is my own, so I think I lost that battle without a fight. Out of spite, or curiosity, or intoxication, I ask for a one (after all, they're technically mine) and smoke my first complete cigarette of my entire life (I've had one before in Mexico, I believe, but not in entirety). It wasn't as bad as I had suspected, but didn't really rank high on the "good" scale.
With the second fifth of whiskey complete and the hour getting late, we decide to head out. Our group of six splits at the door, and again she takes control by commandeering a stranger (to me) to drive us back to, as it were, my hotel. Now, I'm a pretty passive guy - even on the verge of dense - but this is starting to sound good. We three climb onto the motorscooter and are whizzed away through the streets and to the waterfront. Bobbing and weaving through the turns, I direct us as needed and before long we come to a halt, slightly overshooting my door. I hop off and begin to make my thanks for a good evening (I've been perfecting my Zen skills of minimized expectations), but she hops off with me and waves the driver away. Hm.
She walks me to my door. I turn to say good night. My Zen is failing. But alas, her strong will stays to the very end, and before I can protest otherwise, she gives me a quick hug, thanks me for the evening, and turns to walk into the night.