Today I have been sober for three days.
Yesterday was a pretty good day by my standards, and today is working out even better.
Yesterday I ‘cleared house’ of the final two bar girls in my life. Then first was Toi, who had been sleeping with me for the past week.
Last Wednesday, I explained to Toi that I didn’t want to spend too much time in her bar, as it always seemed to lead to me picking up a drink. I wanted to get back into the routine of morning AA meetings, so I did not want to pick her up at two thirty a.m. every day. By the time we slept it was getting on to four a.m. and I just wasn’t getting enough sleep.
I told her that some nights I would ‘bar fine’ her, not later than midnight, and on some occasions I would still pick her up at at two thirty, but not every day. She seemed to have problems understanding my motives for all this and accused me of having other women.
Toi was becoming increasingly jealous in her behaviour pattern and comments, and I was getting quite irritated with it.
Anyway on Thursday I decided to ‘bar fine’ her and have an early night, but was surprised to discover her ‘fine’ was five hundred Baht, not the standard three hundred that I had assumed.
She said that it was high because she ran the bar. I wasn’t too happy about paying five hundred Baht on a regular basis, which was on top of what I had already agreed to pay directly to her and I was also not too keen on waiting until two thirty, so the relationship wasn’t looking like it had much of a future.
Then yesterday I decided not to see her that night, and she immediately accused me of having another woman and the accusatory sms’s began to fly back and forth. So one thing led to another, and we have now parted ways.
(Unfortunately I will receive no refund on my prepaid ‘credit’ for her services, but that is a small price to pay.)
The relationship wasn’t going anywhere – once more I had made a big mistake. I had no feelings for her, and hadn’t even made love with her for several days.
I now know I have to keep clear of bar girls of all types. They aren’t going to do me any good, except for brief, one-off flings.
My last bar girl was a lady named Tan.
For a number of reasons I had thought that Tan was really different, as I had observed her for a long time.
This was especially so during a recent period when she had a regular boyfriend, as not only did she stop sleeping around, but she even changed jobs to work in a kitchen so that she wouldn’t have to sit with other men.
As is so often the case, when the girl behaves, the man walks all over them, and so it was with Tan’s boyfriend who was a real arsehole and treated her like shit, and was always screwing around.
The relationship broke up, and Tan was back at the bar, looking very sad and still not going with men. A few days ago I took her out for a meal, and then returned her to the bar, as neither she nor I were ready for the next step.
Tan had always liked me, and we nearly got together some time back before the ‘bastard’ boy friend came on the scene.
It had occurred to me that we might make a go of it this time round and when I took her out we decided we would meet again with a view to seeing how things developed.
On Thursday I called her and said I would be calling in to see her on the Friday, but when I showed at her bar last night she was nowhere to be seen. All the staff knew me, and I could tell that they all looked a little bit embarrassed by my arrival.
After a while I innocently inquired on the whereabouts of Tan, but they all avoided my eyes, and Tan’s best friend told me in the time honoured fashion:
(“Don’t know” being code for “She’s out screwing a customer”)
I sent Tan an sms and she replied that she had the day off and was visiting a friend in Pattaya.
That’s strange – how come no one at the bar, including her boss, knew she had taken the day off?
It was the final straw. Never again will I either believe a bar girl or become romantically involved with one. If that means that I stay alone for the rest of my life – then so be it. I’ve had enough.
No more bars and no more bar girls. I have to find a new, different way forward.
Last night I had a pretty decent asleep alone and today made the morning AA meeting.
Since then I have been home, doing a long postponed sort out of my condo, and trying to learn to live with myself.
I haven’t written about my alcoholic friend, Dave, since February 12th, so it’s time for an update.
In my last report, I told you that his lady had decided that she’d had enough of taking care of a hopeless drunk who couldn’t even control his bodily functions, and had left him to go back to her home in the south of Thailand.
Dave wasn’t answering his phone, and was seemingly in a hopeless condition, what with his refusal to stop drinking, his head injuries following his fall downstairs, and his addiction to Lorazepam.
I contacted a friend of his in Bangkok and apprised him of Dave’s condition, and suggested that he might want to pass on this news to Dave’s other Bangkok friends. I also contacted his elderly doctor friend, and similarly apprised him that Dave was now all alone.
The next morning I called Dave and was pleasantly surprised when he actually answered his phone. He was still very intoxicated and barely coherent, but at least he was still alive.
I told him that his lady had left him, and he sounded surprised, but later in the conversation, it became clear that not only did he know she had left, but that he had been calling her, but she had failed to respond. At length, I tried to explain why she had left him as he seemed totally bemused, but he rung off. Maybe, even in his extreme alcoholic state, he didn’t want to hear some home truths.
A couple of hours later he called me back, but it became immediately apparent that he had miss-dialled.
One of the extraordinary features of Dave’s life is his incredible survival instincts, which were certainly kicking in when he made that call. Before he knew it was me who was answering the phone, he asked, in Thai, to speak to a Thai Lady, (who I know), and is the wife of one of his old friends. His speech was remarkably clear; he was obviously making a supreme effort to sound sober. When he found out he had called the wrong number, he rung off.
Later that afternoon I heard from Dave’s lady who had arrived at her home in the South, who told me that he had called her many times, but she had not answered, and also a call from one of his Bangkok friends who told me a couple of them were going round to see him on the following morning.
Over the next couple of days many people rallied round to help Dave. The Thai lady he had tried to contact when he called me by mistake, had been round several times to clean up; the elderly doctor friend had been to see him; another friend had taken his maid round to help clean up and take care and was scheduled to make another visit; many friends had come to stay with him, and put food in his fridge; so all in all he was being well cared for.
I spoke to him a few times, and he certainly was sounding a lot better, although he admitted he was still drinking, and his speech was still very slow and slurred.
And then, four days ago, his lady returned from the south to resume her role as his carer.
His doctor friend had told him that he should be recovered from his head injuries within ten days, but two days ago he returned to the hospital where the specialist told him that although he hadn’t suffered any brain injuries, it would be several weeks before he was back to normal.
Yesterday he was not sounding very good, but I managed to have a conversation with him, but today it is just as though the past week hadn’t happened.
When I called Dave his lady answered and told me that Dave was in a very bad condition and he was mumbling incoherently. She handed the phone to him, but he was just croaking and I couldn’t understand a word.
She took the phone back off him and told me she would call back later to advise me of his latest problems. He assured me that his condition was not connected to his head injuries, but only due to his drinking and pill popping.
All his friends have disappeared again and he seems to be once more on the brink with only his lady to help him.
I wonder how long this tragedy will continue to play itself out.
AZZY – MY LOVE (Part 6)
I was originally supposed to stay in Port Harcourt for just a couple of weeks, before returning to my job in Lagos, but in the event, I stayed a lot longer.
I was there principally to examine the stock situation and try to assess the extent of stolen stock so that replacements could be ordered. But ‘management’ was extremely thin on the ground, and my duties quickly expanded to encompass a whole range of administrative responsibilities that no one else had either the time or wherewithal to take care of.
The company’s premises were located on the edge of town and consisted of a large sprawling warehouse, a yard full of oilfield equipment and an extensive office complex. Although Daniel had performed a sterling and heroic task in protecting everything from the worst excesses of marauding military of both sides, there was still a mass of clearing up and other work to do.
The war ravaged city had no electricity, water, or telephone services. Banks were yet to re-open so cash was king, all of which had to be transported down the dangerous road from Lagos, as did most of our food and other essential supplies.
After a week or so, my employer opened up a guesthouse to which most of the company workers were transferred, but I remained in the hotel, which suited me fine as by this time I had befriended a number of the local ladies who helped me while away my nights.
Azzy was becoming a distant memory.
I had been there about three weeks when Nigerian Airways resumed their long defunct, daily service from Lagos. They provided twice-daily flights in disturbingly dilapidated, turbo prop Fokker Friendships. These flights opened the floodgates for the return of workers, Nigerian and expatriate alike. There soon became a log jam of people desperate to fly into Port Harcourt to resurrect their businesses and help get the town back on its feet.
Our only communication was by ‘single side band’ radio with which we had daily conversations with our Head Office in Lagos. It was by this means that I was informed of new employees who were being sent down to us on the daily flights.
I became the self-appointed driver cum ‘welcomer’, driving to the airport twice daily to greet new arrivals and transport them to our offices, which fortunately were situated quite close to the airport.
I had been performing this daily service for a week or so when one afternoon my eyes nearly popped out of my head as I perused the passengers as they climbed down the steps from the airplane and walked across the tarmac to the primitive airport arrivals building.
There, as large as life, looking amazingly sexy and beautiful was my girlfriend – Azzy.
When she reappeared from customs she looked straight at me and demanded to know why I had not been in contact with her.
I was flabbergasted that not only hadn’t she decided to fly to Port Harcourt on spec, but that I was at the airport to meet her. It must have been fate.
I wasn’t unhappy to see her as the local ladies did not come close to matching her alluring beauty, and she immediately awakened feelings that had remained dormant since I had left her in Lagos.
Azzy came to stay with me in the hotel, and she would spend the days lounging around there or wandering around the town centre while I was at the office.
A couple of weeks after her arrival, I was informed by my boss that I was being transferred permanently to Port Harcourt to set up the accounts office there.
This would entail a trip back to Lagos to pack up my things and to make arrangements with my boss for the permanent transfer of files, accounting records and so on.
So three weeks after Azzy’s arrival, we both took the flight back to Lagos. I was scheduled to spend two weeks there, and I had no idea what I was going to do with Azzy, as upon my return to Port Harcourt I would be billeted at the company’s guest house, and it would be impossible for Azzy to stay there with me.
I braced myself to break the news to her that we would have to put an end to our relationship.
However, when I tried to explain the situation to Azzy, she had other ideas. She wasn’t about to let her ‘prized young man’ go that easily. She was a wily young thing and in those days of post colonial Nigeria, she was aware that foreigners had to be careful not to show any prejudice as far as Nigerians were concerned.
Azzy had met a number of my work colleagues, who were in Nigeria on “married status’ contracts – the company paid for their wives to live with them in Nigeria and provided appropriate accommodation for them.
Azzy reasoned that if we were married, my employer would have no choice but to treat me as a ‘married status’ employee and provide us with suitable accommodation when I returned to Port Harcourt.
It sounded like a plan, so that is exactly what we did.
A few days after we had returned to Lagos, Azzy took me down to the Lagos registry office, and before I knew what was happening, I had embarked upon my serial marrying career.
I recall having a very drunken wedding reception at one of Azzy’s friend’s houses in the outskirts of Lagos, and to this day I remember the terrible migraine I developed, (I used to suffer badly from migraines in those days), and how I had to lay down in a bedroom, my head in my hands, while the noisy party raged outside. I also vaguely remember wondering what the hell I had got myself into. Maybe that was what had brought on the migraine.
I also recall being taken to task by my boss, as I had skipped off the previous t afternoon to get married, and the following morning I turned up very late, very hung over, unshaven, and still in the crumpled clothes I had worn on the previous day. I hadn’t been home yet to get showered and changed.
I didn’t dare tell him that I had got married, suffered the ‘dressing down’ in silence, and apologised.
In spite of Azzy’s grand plan, I had no intention of telling my bosses what had happened, and I was becoming increasingly concerned as to what I was going to do with my new wife when I returned to Port Harcourt, a few days hence.
Miss Femi, the beautiful female employee who I had met on the day I first arrived in Lagos, came to see to me the following day in my office and calmly informed me that she knew that I had got married. I asked her how she had found out, but she just gave me an enigmatic smile. She knew everything that happened in Lagos, she told me. That was why she was such a valuable employee. I asked her if she had told anyone, and she said “Yes”. She had told Gerry Robbins, my big boss – the General Manager.
I was horrified, but in the event I needn’t have worried. Gerry was a good guy, and of course I happened to share a little secret with him, so when he came over later to offer his congratulations, I was immediately put at ease by his friendly demeanour.
He seemed to find nothing particularly strange about what had transpired, and simply asked me what I intended to do with my new wife when I returned to Port Harcourt.
I wasn’t sure, I told him, being far too timid to suggest the company should change my contract status from single to married.
As it transpired, he saved me the bother of having to ask. He informed me that just in case I was wondering, the company would not agree to change the status of my contract. I had signed up as a single man and it would remain that way.
He told me that this wasn’t the first time that an expat had married a local girl and it was up to me to take care of my wife in whatever way I was able. He told me that there would be no hindrance to me taking my wife with me back to Port Harcourt, but that I would have to find my own accommodation, and take care of her out of my own pocket.
So that was that.
Azzy’s plan hadn’t worked, and I assumed that when I broke the news to her, she would decide to stay in Lagos, as how on earth would I be able to find liveable accommodation in that war damaged, wreck of a town?