25 September 2015

Mick’s First/Last Kiss

Mick’s First/Last Kiss

I knew Ohm would be there at Phun and Noh’s Christmas eve party. Phun and Noh threw their party every year since Phun turned 21, and Phun’s dad had given Phun the old teak house which was set well back from Sathorn Road, hidden in a knot of mango trees. Noh had moved in with him a Christmas after – that was a major event – and then the parties started. It had become a tradition for all the old boys of Friday College to catch up at this party.
This Christmas eve, when I arrived with Win and Mark at around 11 pm, Ohm was already there. I hadn’t seen him in two years, but I spotted him right away, from across doorway, the center of an adulating circle, as he always was. Standing propped up next to the makeshift bar, Ohm was laughing raucously at some convoluted joke he had told, drink in hand and surrounded by the other members in is band, and some other guys I couldn’t recognize. He looked well – being in a hit band suited him  – or maybe he was very well be high on something; One really couldn’t tell with Ohm, even I couldn’t tell. Anyway, he didn’t think see us come in.
Just after midnight, we decided to leave. Mark was dying to go to a club to get away from what he thought was a pretentious party, to go and really celebrate with his other friends in Soi 4. So we said our long, drunken goodbyes to Phun and Noh and the others making a huge detour of the lovely old house. And just before we stepped into the velvety darkness of the trees in the garden, Ohm pushed up to us, ignoring Mark and Win, he took my face in his hands and kissed me on the mouth: “Merry Christmas, stranger,” he said softly, against my cheek.
Ohm tasted of wine and gum.

I half thought he might be wanting to pass on an E to me, as he used to do, but there was no pill in my mouth. I saw Win register this (his eyebrows went up the slight fraction his politeness allowed) but pretended he didn’t notice. Mark already had quite a few drinks and really didn’t notice.
On Christmas Day, quite hungover still at 3 pm, Win, Mark and I went to watch a movie at Quartier Cine-Art. I’d been thinking all night and all day about Ohm’s kiss: What could it have meant? Was he even conscious? Why didn’t he say anything else to me? Did he think I wouldn’t mind? I was thinking so hard about Ohm that I couldn’t follow the plot of the interminably long sci-fi blockbuster. Was it just the drinks, or drugs, or the sense that the year had ended, that things have ended, that our youth had ended that made him do that? Because Ohm was one of those that could drive perfectly straight even when stoned (he just gripped the wheel a little bit too tight, and leaned stiffly forward). And I’ve witnessed him order a three course- French dinner when he was completely off his face (that was when that year when we came back from our holiday in Paris and fell in love with everything French for a year). He didn’t eat any of it, but he ordered it, a little insistently, perhaps, and sat through the meal, drinking the wine automatically, chattering brightly as usual.

Imagine my surprise when we actually bumped into Ohm in the supermarket right after the movie, when Mark was having a coffee and Win was eating a burger, and I was sucking and chewing on a bubble tea. It was like I had conjured Ohm up by thinking about him non-stop.
Ohm was with Keng, an old friend of ours from Friday, and they were buying beer for yet another party; it was all a bit awkward. I know I wasn’t looking my best. I was aware that Win was studying me, and only Mark seemed blissfully unaware. Keng asked me to join them for that night’s party. “But Win and Mark are making me dinner, and I’ve got to work on my recording tomorrow,” I said. I didn’t want to go because Keng didn’t ask Win or Mark, just me; but mostly because Ohm didn’t ask me. He was talking to Mark intently, in his usual bluster.
The next day afternoon, when I went back to working on my recording at Studio 28, Keng texted.
He said that Ohm gave him my number, and that Ohm told him that we hadn’t been talking for a while.
Me: “It’s been years. Why rake this up now?”
Keng: “You should ask him out for coffee.”
Me: Ohm can call me if he wants to talk, or have coffee or whatever. He knows how to text.”
When what I really wanted to say to Keng was that the Christmas Eve kiss reminded me of Ohm’s first kiss so many years ago. It brought back the smell of his leather sofa where we sat for hours, learning the finer points of the French horn; It brought back the sound of the fountain in his garden when the birds had all gone to sleep; It brought back the sound of his dad's creaking Mercedes Benz (and the day he got his driving license and drove us straight to Rayong); It brought back the always too-sweet chocolate he made me, and which I had drunk anyway, for years; Our first fight at Block F, near the third floor toilet. The very first Christmas, the one which I didn’t manage to give him the Supreme hoodie I had saved up to buy for him.

Ohm had made me who I am today, dry eyed, looking back, unable now to read any of my feelings at all clearly, even when I tried.

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