Names: Paula and Boom
Where: Paula’s birthday party, Kammala, Phuket, Thailand
Sometimes all it takes to turn someone’s day around is a smile, or a well-phrased remark on the stylishness of their apparel. But there are times when mere gestures won’t cut the mopey mustard, and you have to go above and beyond to deliver them from the depths of the Sulkton Sea.
Say, for example, a group of 20-somethings decided to travel to a tropical island in Southeast Asia to spend a few weeks cavorting in the sun, only to find that — despite their substantial research and careful reviews of basic, widely available climate information regarding their destination — they were unprepared for their visit to coincide perfectly with the monsoon season and were now occupying much of their time by fleeing torrential downpours. How would you console and cheer such an unfortunate assembly, mollifying their melancholy by masking their misfortunes?
The short answer is to give them free food and a dance floor. The slightly longer short answer is to be a prostitute and have a birthday party. Could you have accomplished all of the above? Because Paula and Boom did, and they don’t even know us or like us.
It was a Cat Shirt Night*, rendering expectations of riotous fun and narrowly avoiding beatings at the hands of strangers unreasonably high. Standing resolutely in the path of these goals were the omnipresent precipitation, our relative stinginess, and the tourist demographic of Kammala being almost exclusively fat Speedo-donning Russians and scowly, septuagenarian Scandinavians. Luckily, Paula and Boom were there to expertly carve around these knots, creating for us a sublime evening that was equal parts frivolous, strange, and uncomfortable.
Earlier reconnaissance missions had uncovered a soi, or alleyway, packed full of promisingly grim bars, one of which would presumably offer Karaoke and the chance for us to embarrass ourselves before a variety of ethnicities. Taking the over-confident wind from our silky sails, we soon learned upon setting out that none of these bars were willing or able to let us screech Britney and Bowie songs at their patrons for hours on end. Sensing our dismay from across the soi, Paula and Boom sent one of their emissaries to inform us that Paula’s birthday party would be commencing shortly. There would be music, girls, and a giant spread of possibly-contaminated seafood, curry, and watermelon for those in attendance.
With our evening plans conceived, we whiled away the next half hour by playing pool with ladyboy barmaids and freshening up.
Now it was time to enjoy Paula and Boom’s birthday bash. And heavens to bhutsoi what a bash it was. The longer we extended our presence at the festivities, the stronger grew our suspicions that Paula and Boom had with extraordinary prescience laid out a night designed to delight us and enrich our experience in Phuket.
For example, there was the crowd they’d assembled for us – on one side the rough, tattooey-faced, full-set-of-teeth-bereft Australian and British men with beady bloodshot eyes, capacious criminal records, and cameras owned exclusively for pointing down young Thai girls’ dresses. On the other side: a bevy of young Thai prostitutes. Knowing we would want control of the dance floor, and to primarily interact with our own group of friends yet still gawk at and judge everyone in our immediate vicinity, P&B had joined these two disparate groups to keep each other occupied, maintaining a safe distance between us and the fists of one and lusty overtures of the other.
Beyond the open dance floor, people-watching fodder, and sizable feast, P&B thought defensively, anticipating the mirth-jeopardizing hazards posed by our short attention spans, and concocted a series of thrilling party games to keep all boredom at bay, as well as the recognition that we were surrounded by prostitutes and likely child molesters. These games began simply, such as the old chestnut “Let’s Form a Conga Line Around The Pool Table, Like, Five Times”, but quickly developed new complexity, resulting in “Paula Sits On Everyone’s Lap, Takes a Liking To Logan, and Feeds Him Cake With Her Mouth”, and a very, very lengthy round of “Paula and Boom Try To Get Logan and Steve, Respectively, To Have Sex With Them”. This last game brought a very strange and unforeseen energy to the room, and produced many photos of Steve and Boom’s highly awkward canoodling.
And Logan eventually buying Paula a drink because he felt bad. In return, she deemed him her “Boyfreeeen” for the rest of the night.
In the background of all of this, rocking the night away, below a TV broadcasting an international squash tournament, was the local middle-aged cover band. Or rather, a guy with a guitar, and then another guy with a guitar. At P&B’s certain behest, the band operated with very loose standards of microphone control, a protocol that Team Cat Shirt exploited to great effect. Logan, seizing the moment and microphone late into the night, launched into a loud, rambling, heartfelt speech commemorating the momentous milestone of commitment, devotion, and understanding that was the six month anniversary of Devon and Steve traveling together. This speech notably, adroitly avoided commemorating the coinciding six year anniversary of Devon and one very frowny-faced Margie, to the great merriment of at least four of the assembled Cat Shirted party-goers.
After this speech, it was clear to all that this birthday party had never been intended for Paula, but was instead a birthday party for us, for Herro Asia!, and all that we stand for. With that settled, Devon and Margie stole the hearts of all the whores and ex-cons with their rendition of a shirtless bullfight. Max’s interest was greatly aroused.
Responding in kind, Paula stole Max’s Cat Shirt by exploiting her feminine wiles and, probably more likely, Max’s lack of concern for material goods. In this, P&B’s final act of the night, our new pals gave us all a chance to bond ever further, by stealing the shirt back from Paula and running away into the night, as seen below:
Besides a few awkward subsequent daytime encounters with them, our time spent with Paula and Boom was terrific; probably the best had on Phuket. And, to their credit, it was the only encounter on the entire trip that led directly to Steve wetting the bed the next morning.