NON FICTION: No Man’s An Island

Lonely man in street

“I don’t understand why you can’t get a girlfriend,” Craig said.

I looked up from my Word document. “What.”

“Yeah, it’s not like you’re butt-ugly or anything.”

“Thanks… I think.”

“No no no. I didn’t mean it that way. I meant—”

“Haha!” Diane chimed in. “No need to apologise. He is ugly. Maybe not butt-ugly, but regular-ugly.”

“I meant that you shouldn’t have trouble getting girls,” Craig said.

Diane laughed again. “That’s probably not going to happen.”

“What?” I asked. “What’s not going to happen?”

“You finding a girl,” Diane said. “Face it. There’s a reason why you’ve been single for so long. Ugly is one part of it.”

“Ha. Ha. Funny. Asshole. Now get back to work.” I took it all in jest, but deep down I knew there was some merit to it. Ugly or not, there was some force at work ensuring my constant misery where love was concerned.

#

Two weeks later and I was in Thailand for an assignment.

“Young couples tend to love our resort,” the hotel manager, Sally, said. “This room right here is seventy square feet and is outfitted perfectly for two people.”

I nodded my head as I stood at the balcony. Sally followed my gaze. “Ah yes, this is the best place for couples to enjoy the sunset. Care to check out the penthouse next?”

As Sally ushered me to the new room, my phone vibrated.

“Having fun with your assignment?” Diane’s message read. “Bring back a Thai girl okay ugly boy.”

I smiled at the message. Sally noticed this and cooed. “This room is great isn’t it? We’ve hosted many wedding dinners in this hotel, and the newly-weds always chose this room. It’s really lovely…”

#

I rented the hotel bicycle and asked Nut, the front desk staff, for directions to the nearest 7-11.

“Is it all right if I bring beers back to the hotel?”

“Ah! You enjoy beer?” Nut asked while tipping an extended thumb and pinky towards his mouth.

“Um yes.”

“No problem. You can buy many. Mai pen rai.”

I smiled and pedalled off. I was so impressed by the scenery that I stopped to take pictures along the way and just sat down enjoying the sunset. There were moments where I would’ve welcomed some company. I shrugged away the momentary weakness and rode off to town.

On my way there, there were—get this—two geese in the middle of the road. The path was devoid of people, so it was up to me to confront this peculiar sight. There was barely enough space to skirt past the duo, and as I drew closer, one of the vindictive little shits flared its wings and started charging at me.

Now I haven’t been pecked by a goose before, and I’m not sure that they even have teeth. But it could’ve been a land-shark for all I knew, because before the damn thing lifted its head for an attack, I was already turned the other way and high-tailing it out of there.

“Back so soon?” Nut asked me upon my return.

“You guys have geese running around the roads here?!”

“Oh. Yes. You scared?”

“Of course not! I’ll go to town later.”

He barked a knowing laugh and said, “Come follow me. I bring you.”

Nut gave me a ride on his motorcycle, and I bought him a couple of beers in return. We got back right when his shift ended, so we decided to stretch out on the hotel’s beach chairs to enjoy the sea breeze and stars.

“No work tomorrow?” I asked.

“No. Holiday one week.”

“Nice! How you spending it?”

He sighed and said: “Surat Thani. I want marry my girlfriend. A little scare. Her family not like me.” He rubbed his first three fingers together. “No money.”

“Ah! Same problem everywhere!” I brought up my experiences with financial inadequacies in relationships, and we traded war stories until our conversation lulled.

After a long pause, I asked, “You worried?”

“We already many problems. Maybe not get marry.”

“You’ll be fine. Mai pen rai!”

Nut shrugged. “You think I will lucky?”

“Of course!” I lied. “You’re a great guy. I’m sure she’d say yes.” I didn’t even know what problems they were facing, or if they were in a conducive relationship. But as I watched him smile from his growing confidence, I realised that sometimes people just needed a little blind reassurance. It was the least I could do to send off some positive ripples into the universe.

We were down to our last drinks, our shorts wet from the bottles’ condensation. “You know,” I said, “I’m checking out tomorrow.”

“Oh. You enjoy here?”

“Yes, a lot. Look, when I come back next time, I want to see a ring around your finger okay?”

He laughed and raised his bottle. “Maybe… maybe.”

We clinked our bottles before downing them. We said our goodbyes and parted ways, probably for good. I’d like to think that I left him in better condition than when we first met. I stumbled back to my room and sighed as I sat in bed, recollecting facts I’d learned that day.

Seventy square feet. Two chairs on each patio facing west. King-sized bed. Perfect choice for honeymooners and couples. Tonight’s occupancy: 1.

I thought about the bicycle ride, and the thing with the geese. I recalled the candlelight dinner, as I looked on at happy couples enjoying their meals. Just that afternoon, I read a book alone at the pool as newly-weds lathered each other with sunblock. I finally had the access to happier life experiences, but no one to share them with. For once in a long while, I wished someone was by my side.

I comforted myself with the thought of someday finding someone I like as much as they do me. Someone to figure life out together. And I almost led myself to believe that that person actually exists, that there’s a happily ever after waiting just for me.

But that’s probably not going to happen.

Before the goose encounter.

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