LOVE FOR BEGINNERS

Letters by Kenny Mah

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A smile that explodes

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
August 6, 2008


Hey you,


I’ve been invited. To an exclusive soirée. (“Behave.”)

We know how it will all end, of course. Everything falls apart, it’s the thing these days. So I begin to gently decline when Meena informs me it wasn’t a request. I’ve been invited. I will come.

And in the pause, in the alarming silence, there hangs a subtle “Or else…”

Or else what? We’d never know, these aren’t questions we ask. No, we just don’t ask questions.

And so I go. I even reach the restaurant on time. Some fancy all-the-cuisines-from-around-the-world buffet is in full swing. No fancy folks though, just families with querulous kids. Everything’s a mystery, everything’s exciting, even day-old sashimi. Not that they served that, no.

I was the only one at the table, naturally. I’ve always missed out on the concept of being fashionably late. Once one has allowed German punctuality into one’s system, it’s an impossible trait to try and be rid of. Still, it meant I didn’t miss the Middle-Eastern belly dancer sashaying out of the kitchen.

(Later, I’ll find out she’ll launch herself upon diners every hour upon the hour so my fellow dinner guests did not in fact miss her act. The ladies at the table were rather merciless in their dismissal of the dancer of having neither the bosom nor the bottom required of this ravishing role. A little kindness surely wouldn’t go amiss.)

They arrived eventually, one charming couple after another. Different ages, different centuries even, maybe. She wasn’t joking. I was supposed to be young blood. Am I to be a last resort infusion to inject some life into this reclusive menagerie?

Then the star of the night arrived, the Lady of Fine Wine (as in aged well, ahem). I was to be her escort for the evening, her “poodle” as I had been informed to my indignation. Heck, if I played my cards right, I might land me a sugar mommy by the end the night.

Sweet.

Didn’t help much though, that I laughed heartily (perhaps too much so) at the jokes the gentlemen at the table cracked at her expense. Perhaps it’s true that hearing loss is a necessary item in one’s application for senior citizenship? To my dismay, I saw my reputation for chivalry being torn to shreds with every unfortunate guffaw on my part.

(But I couldn’t help myself. They. Were. So. Funny.)

Still, you know it’s time to leave when the waiters refuse to refill your Bottomless Wine Goblet. Apparently the restaurant has this habit of closing up every night. Fear not, beloved readers, we had cards still up our sleeves. The same five-star hotel in which this no-run-of-the-mill restaurant resided also housed a dance club, the name of which the Lady of Fine Wine promptly misheard as “Piles” and consequently questioned if it were for runaways from old folks homes only.

As we transferred our full bellies and heavy derrières from The Mill to Pulse, we were confronted by a sign that warned us not to conceal any bodyguards we may possess. (Do they come in handy pocket-sized packs these days? Wow.) The fact the sign was accompanied by a burly and finely-dressed bouncer convinced us that they were serious and probably wouldn’t take too kindly to our hearing-impairment humor.

We knew people who knew people, though. We got in.

(That’s the way the world works, kids. Don’t let anyone tell you no different.)

I must mention at this point that I had not one sip of alcohol in me all night, and despite the bottle of whiskey they had ready at the club, I stuck to sips of soft drinks. Which makes it odd that I was the first on the dance floor. Wasn’t booze supposed to give you courage? (Well, more of it certainly doesn’t hurt.)

It was Retro Night. Songs from the 80’s. (When did the 80’s become retro?) I’d feel old except I was the youngest person there. I hadn’t danced in eons, really, but it all comes back. Like riding a bicycle or shagging a moose. (Did I say shagging? I meant skinning, I did.) Whether it was the Hot Hoochie Mama (Formerly Known as the Lady of Fine Wine) or being sandwiched in between a husband-and-wife-team who seemed rather happy humping my front-and-rear, it was to remember.

What it felt like. Dancing. So free. Wild abandon. Not a worry in the world.

Almost one a.m. I send you a text message. I say my goodbyes to the reluctant gang, now convinced I’m some kind of elixir for the elderly, and I exit the dance club, sparing Mr. Bouncer a friendly wink on the way out. The air outside is stunning. Nothing like leftover carbon monoxide from all the city’s cars to remind one what it feels like to be alive.

You drive the car over to the curb. I hop in. You smell like fresh rain and I can’t help but give you a smile that explodes. You ask me how the night was.

“Pretty good,” I say, “but not as good as with you. Take us home, baby.”

And so you did.


Yours always and always,
Me.




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