I am supposed to be a writer, but it’s been a long time since I’ve really written. I no longer tell people that I do anything for a living, and I no longer think of writing as part of my identity. If I were to tell the truth about what it is that I do, a calling which gives my life real meaning, I would say that I watch television.
I watch a lot of TV. It’s like my job that I haven’t been paid for yet, but that I still do because someday I expect a check to show up in the mail. I am as rigorous about it as doctors who check in on their patients, or accountants who do stuff with numbers. Here’s my day: I wake up and watch CNN until I absolutely cannot bear it (about 45-50 minutes), then I switch to Ellen DeGeneres. I try to catch “Veep” and/or “Silicon Valley” if I can. Maybe some “Hoarders” or “Love at First Sight”. Then I take a lunch break, and then I watch the “Sopranos”. The rest of the day is devoted to Netflix. If it’s Monday or Tuesday, I can watch American football all day long and not have to change channels. It’s a pretty full schedule.
Sometimes, I go to the gym. It’s the only thing that consistently gets me out of the house. I have not one, but two personal trainers, both of whom are named Champ. One is “Big Champ” even though he is little, while the bigger one is “Even Bigger Champ” (just kidding. He’s “Little Champ.”) Both like to give me advice on where to eat, probably because it is the only thing I like to talk about while working out.
Some of their advice is terrible. I can say this because they like to make fun of me, and I only realize they are making fun of me after I have been humiliated. Like when they tell me that the “chicken at Lumpini Park is delicious.” Now let me give you some advice: don’t go to Lumpini Park and ask people about where to get good chicken. You aren’t going to end up with chicken (see: som tum at Hualumpong Station). Just take my word for it.
But because they are Thai, some real advice slips out occasionally. For a while now, everyone has been telling me about a killer bamee egg noodle place called “Hia Buoy” (or “Uncle Pickled Plum”, named after the owner, 10/2 Soi Polo, 081-629-5231). He offers a few soup noodle dishes like yen ta fo (pink seafood noodles), but the real standout is, of course, the egg noodles with pork and tom yum seasonings, silky and full of flavor. The servings are decently big (though not so big that I can’t eat two), and when I order hang (dry), as I am wont to do, I get a little bowl of aromatic pork broth on the side, because it’s the right thing to do. There was a time when Thais expected you to eat dry rice and noodles with a side of soup, you know, because it would help the rice kernels and noodle strands go down. Now when I go to a noodle stand and order hang, vendors usually don’t give me anything on the side, and I end up feeling like when I see a playlist of “Greatest Punk Songs of All Time” that includes Green Day and Blink 182 and then I make a face like:
Like, why not just go whole hog and include Avril Lavigne while you’re at it? Oh, Offspring, never mind. LOL Elvis Costello.
All the same, I will probably end up downloading it, because I have no standards or pride. Also, I need something to listen to while I’m on the road in Japan. I will be there for 3 weeks, sans television! Wish me luck.