I was barely into my first big beer before some guy sat down at my table.
“Hello,” he may have said—“may” because his accent was so thick it was almost opaque.
This situation was exactly what I didn’t want: some possibly drunk and/or stoned boner twisting my ear in English more broken than his teeth. Besides, my friend and I were momentarily burned out on each other and, to exacerbate things, Chinese New Year in Malaysia was thwarting most attempts made at travel and lodging. We just needed some street noodles and beers to unwind. But while she was in the bathroom (and I was criminally eating her noodles), this stick of a man slithered into the open seat.
His black shirt, hanging onto his body only slightly looser than his skin, was tucked into his black jeans, at the front of which was an obnoxious, silver belt-buckle.
I have no fucking idea what he and I talked about before my friend got back. I was so peeved and pissy that I barely mustered the good nature to proffer one-word answers to his awkward chatter. It was during one of my space-outs into the fluorescent-lit streets of Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown that I saw my friend returning. I quickly shook my head to hint that she stay away, but she was already annoyed with me (seeing that I had eaten her noodles didn’t help—at all), so she plopped down at the table’s third seat. I braced for the terse conversation I was sure would follow.
Consequently, I also have no fucking idea when we all started to have a great time.
All of a sudden, the three of us were cracking up. David went from a unwelcome, Johnny-Cash-looking pain in the ass to the remedy for our travel malaise. We had bought ourselves a round and were laughing away as the wait staff sat and watched.
David insisted they were jealous. I’m still inclined to agree.
He was thrilled when he learned we’re English-language teachers. He told us about his English lessons; apparently, he was at the top of his class.
“That’s right! Number one!” he said.
But what he said was much less memorable than how he displayed ‘number one’.
Whenever he’d get excited and need to emphasize something’s supremacy, David employed a very specific motion: his left arm would lift, his arm perpendicular to the ground before his elbow would rise away from his body, and his loose fist would flutter before his gangly index finger rose from the shaky mess into a rigid, erect indication of what he meant.
(He made us promise to bring his gesture worldwide. Now that you know about the motion, consider yourself implicated.)
Why was anything number one?
“It has P – O – W – E – RRRRRRRRRRRRRR,” according to David.
Fucking everything was number one to this guy: English; our beer; his English; his shit-awful cigarettes; our English. The man was nothing if not enthusiastic.
More to the point, my sexual prowess was tops too—at least until my friend told him I was a habitual premature ejaculator.
See, David refused to believe that we were anything less than bang buddies. It took us three minutes to talk him down from marriage:
“You married, no?”
“No? Don’t lie.”
“David, we promise.”
“But she’s your wife, no?
And so forth.
When he heard “friends” numerous times, he finally settled on ‘special friends’. It seemed like a reasonable place to end the shenanigans. It also opened a window for a joke:
“Yea, but David, she has many special friends.”
I forgot that sarcasm doesn’t translate across languages so well—damn beers—and that my friend can give as good as she gets—damn beers. I just had to wait for the revenge.
My friend and I started to fabricate how we became special friends. It eventually came about that I was the artist for her back tattoo (a gorgeous cherry blossom, so I was flattered), and after those four hours getting tattooed in my chair, she was hooked.
“Four hours?!” David exclaimed. His excitement, barely containable, eventually exploded out of his left hand:
Thus, the stage was set for my friend.
“Yea, but David, he lasts only two seconds,” she revealed, tipping her head to imply he think about this statement.
He didn’t need to think; his eyes, once proud, shot back to me with disbelief.
“Two seconds? No!”
I got too excited. I saw a hook, well baited: an opportunity to continue the laughs and general revelry, even if at my expense. I couldn’t keep it in. Without control, I quickly blurted:
“Yes, David. Two seconds.”
His jaw dropped. His shit-awful cigarette nearly ended up on his obnoxious belt buckle. Sure, I could get a pretty girl in four hours, but I was finished after two seconds.
“But David, I can have sex, like, twelve times a day.”
He seemed impressed, at least for a bit. Then, I think, he did the math:
2 seconds x 12 sex-romps = 24 seconds of sex-romps. That number’s still far south of stellar. David, much older than myself, knew he needed to proffer some wisdom.
“Two seconds no problem. You know what you do?”
I did not, and I needed to know.
He removed his shit-awful cigarette so he could stick his tongue.
“Lick,” he coyly whispered, pointing to his, apparently, most prized muscle.
Shit officially got weird.
After we three nearly pissed ourselves laughing, we got back to our basic patterns of discussion: being number one, what does and does not have POWERRRRRRRRRRRRRR, the virtues of speaking English (David was a full-on acolyte), and the reported special friendship between my friend and me.
Looking back at our trip to Malaysia, all events—the 9-hour bus ride with one pit stop at a flooded bathroom; the undulating verdure of the Cameron Highlands; the self-inflated, giant, German doucher who tried to ruin said undulation; the expensive but rejuvenating hotel at which we stayed there; jelly-pla stings and non-overreactions in Batu Ferringhi, Penang; tremendously helpful cabbies all over Penang; the silence of Georgetown on the night of Chinese New Year—pass through and/or recall the memory of David. He picked us up when we were down, and continued to hoist us when we needed a quick chuckle elsewhere.
Until, at least, shit got too weird.
My friend and I were two or three big beers deep and David had arrived already half in some bag, so things devolved kind of quickly—as they are wont to do—after the premature ejaculation talk. We two travelers were hitting a wall as David’s pronunciation was coming up to its own. These two events would have been enough to warrant an exit, but the lack of David’s topics expedited the shit out of the process: he kept returning to cuming early and going down on a chick afterwards.
The conversation had clearly peaked. It was time for a quick cleanup and for us to collect our things so we could bounce. There would be no conversational cuddling after the fact.
Nevertheless, once back in our room, David’s shadow had already begun to cast itself:
“Hey, tonight: number one!” we said with fluttering fists and indicative index fingers.