The beauty of travel is that it has an escapism element in it. An art that one may resort to as a form of catharsis or simply just for the heck of doing it. You may be who you want to be, do whatever you want, make mistakes, screw up, fall. Who cares? No one. No one will judge you, you won’t feel embarrassed and all you have to do is stand up and do it all over again.
A couple of bottles of cheap beer, aaaah! My essential material for a good night on the road, sometimes, I intentionally get wasted to elicit experiences that would weave stories worth telling.
A year ago.
Bottle after bottle, the night went deeper in a backpacker pub. The sticky floor was laminated with an undeniable stinky layers of sweat, spilt beer, vomit and god-knows-what other bodily fluids.
It was a good place, to get crazy and escape.
At the bar counter, I was nursing my bottles when suddenly a smooth slim hand squeezed between me and some random dude from London. It quickly rubbed my sweat smeared skins then a soft voice cut-in “Can I have two bottles please?” She attempted
asking pleading to the tender, but to no avail.
I flicked a rolled tissue and hit the bartender right on his ear and I finally got his attention. “The pretty lady here is ordering two bottles!”
I turned to her “Missy, you need some balls to survive these places. Pretty won’t get you too far” I blurted with a condescending sarcasm.
“Asshole!” She left without her beer.
I took the bottles. I looked for her in an attempt to make-up for being a douche.
I saw her dancing with couple of her friends, I cut-in and offered the beer. “Hi, I’m (quick, think of a name) Juan… My name is Juan.” She took the bottles but gave no words in return. Her arresting deep-set of eyes, perfectly tanned skin and messy black hair stood out from the bunch of blonde gap year kids.
So I asked her “You’re Indian?”
“I grew up in the states,” she answered.
“That explains the Cali accent!”
The beat of predominant bass from the pub’s bad sound system rhythmically conducted my substandard
dancing thumping, and it was was somehow almost synchronized with her swaying hips. Alcohol started kicking-in, or maybe it was just me and the lame excuse. We danced and got a little intimate while I intentionally stole her from her friends.
The following night, we had dinner. The awkward silence was broken by her unexpected question with an endearing presumption:
“Juan, are we officially dating?”
“Do you want to date me?”
“On the road? Yeah, we would not be seeing each other after this anyway”
The promise of no-expectations-no-strings-attached kind of affair sounds good to me. Besides, I know I will have such a great time because she was so funny, amusingly dumb and gullible like a real life Barbie doll sans the blonde hair and pink peplum.
“How come these temples look the same? Either they don’t have copyright rules or they were just lacking originality.”
“We paid for the tickets for preservation and maintenance? These people do not understand that the older the buildings are, the more tourists will come and visit it”
“Time zones are really stupid. Why can’t we all just have one standard global time? Besides we are… wait, so you mean the… I’m sorry, I really don’t understand humanity”
We never really talked much about our lives back home. Except for some basic details about what we do to pay the bills. She told me she used to work as office assistant in a small boutique in California but she resigned prior to her Asian backpacking trip. With no hesitation, I lied about my work: I told her I am a job-hopper between different McDonald’s branches back home, nothing really interesting. I am a boring person that’s why I travel.
Faux-romantic days passed and we had to move forward. We parted ways with no drama, no exchange of digits, just memories as we lived the adventures and enjoyed the spontaneity of the moments, of honest blunders, of innocent fun!
… or so she thought.
That night in the pub was just another party for the books. Something that led me to a series of fun and new experiences during that trip. But it could happen to other travelers too, so it was nothing unusual. I temporarily had the sweetest dumb girlfriend on the road, so what? The story isn’t so spectacular.
Yesterday I got an unexpected message on Facebook.
“Hey Juan, I mean Ron. So, obviously you don’t work for McDonald’s.”
She found me after almost a year. It just so happened that a friend of her follows my blog and clearly identified me when she saw our photos in her phone.
I tried apologizing but she stopped me even before I even get a chance to say the word sorry. Surprisingly she was pretty cool with it. When I clicked the “add as friend” button on Facebook, I understood why.
In her real world, she is far from the dumb office girl that she portrayed during the time we were together. She is neither from California nor Indian by ethnicity…
She’s living in Manila as a young successful lawyer in one of the biggest and reputable law firms in the country.
“Ron, if I see you on the road again, I would fight my way through the dance floor to look for you sitting at the bar to squeeze my arm through. You are adventurous, funny, creative, you got a decent kick-ass job and you are such a gentleman. Girls are praying for a guy like you to come along.”
… or so she thought