The Americano Series
Part I: Fruit Loops
Okay, enough with the regurgitations on Ecological destruction, State-Sponsored Capitalism, Inverted Totalitarianism, Tea Party Fascism, the Death of Democracy, Drones, Surveillance, JC Penney, or even Ikea cuisine- We all know the score.
It’s past time for the down and dirty, the real nitty-gritty:
I had bought them about a week ago- boxes, several boxes, now stationed on top of my refrigerator: Fruit Loops. And let me tell you, Fruit Loops are not cheap in Singapore. I remember the day that I walked up to the mall and splurged on this caviar of high fructose starch a la Americana. I remember that day when I looked like a starving hoarder with my grocery bag on the elevator en route to my 13th floor apartment. I remember the quick, appraising stares of the two Chinese hookers sharing my ascension. Hmm. Hookers must occupy at least 25% of this building. And hey, just so you know- I pay $2k a month U.S., so it ain’t exactly some cheap brothel. Anyway, these two gals on the elevator quickly give me the visual shakedown, and then glance down at my bag of Fruit Loop boxes… Silence… They know… They can feel it… Any aggressive move towards my Loops and I’m locked and loaded, good to go into full-auto, Kung-Fu judo mode… Finally, they get back to jabbering in high-pitched Mandarin about this, that, him, or her. They had no idea how close they came to dying that day.
Hmm. Loop Imperialism.
Disregarding the elevator experience, over the last weeks, there were indicators, ugh, indicators regarding my ugh, sanity- The overbearing likelihood that I needed to get back to ‘the world.’
You know, ‘the world,’ man. ‘The world.’ Can you dig it? Groovy. Ride on.
The first sign was the bus incident.
And it’s not that I didn’t see repeated, overt displays of compassion all over the island- but this one was just a bit too surreal for my tastes. See, although my wireless net was flawless in this apartment here along the Jalan Besar corridor, I still couldn’t get good phone reception. This led to my standing in front of our building whenever I needed to use the phone. And it was on that particular night, upon receiving updates from my brother that our Mom was getting a bit ‘loopy (she’s in her mid-nineties)’ -I thought I would give her a call. Whoa.
So there I was, raggedy tee, stained bermudas, flip-flops, nighttime tropical downpour, 360 degree city lights, plethora of pedestrians, food-court boozers, all manner of hookerdom- and I’m standing in front of our building trying to make sense of my Mom’s ravings about evil black spray, my sister-in-law being in league with Satanic forces, and televisions that are always spying on her (that one might not be so crazy).
Anyway, as I’m trying to take all this in, a bus stops in front of our building. Two guys fall out of the back door of the bus, out onto the wet street, one on top of the other. Ouch. Damn. That had to hurt.
… Mom still talking away…
Suddenly, my manly compassion kicks in: If the bus driver doesn’t see these poor guys, they’re going to get squashed when he pulls out. As I get closer, I realize that one of the guys is trying very, very hard to quickly lift up his drunk friend (and I mean ultra-super ‘drunk’). I amble over and grab the toasted guy by the back of his shirt lifting him up off the wet pavement- all the while talking to my Mom..
“Ugh Mom, it’s okay, sorry about all the noise, ugh, it’s raining tonight, ugh, go ahead, what about that black spray again?”
As I turn around, phone to ear, holding this geezer by his collar, I see a crowd of bus-waiting onlookers not ten feet away from us, all with absent, disconnected stares… as if they didn’t… never mind. Anyway, I park the guy in the one vacant bus stop seat, and go back to my spot by the building to continue talking with Mom. As a side note, the guy ended up barfing all over the place, much to the chagrin of all the do-nothing bystanders… Ha-ha… I liked that.
And yet what was eventful about this event was not the inaction on the part of the bystanders. I had grown accustomed to that. It was my awareness that I had grown accustomed to it. Not cool.
The Karaoke Nuclear Weapon thing.
When I think about Karaoke bars in the U.S., I always have these arousing visuals of a 300 lb. heifer gal in a skin-tight midriff, slurping down her third bucket of Bud light, all the while bellowing some Stevie Nicks tune about lost love. Oh, and of course with all these Aryan, NRA types looking on with forlorn, hungry wolf eyes…
Yea, that’s some scary shit.
In Asia, Karaoke bars are a bit different. Differences I don’t really care to expound upon in this writing. Anyway, I’m at one of these joints one night, just down the street from our building. And it wasn’t ever a hassle to go to these places- our apartment building being surrounded by Chinese hardware stores, fast food stores, light bulb stores, a pig-organ soup restaurant, a casket factory, a 24-hour funeral store, a Tibetan temple, an Evangelical storefront church, and then these endless Karaoke bars. And it wasn’t that I was a regular expat lush- my drinking in Asia was just occasional outbursts of … of ... Okay, I just didn’t relish the possibility that I would ‘come-to’ in the Myanmar airport trying to explain to some government official that Bilbo Baggins had sent me to find some fucking ring… or something along those lines.
So there I am, seated at the bar, the lone Caucasian in a sea of … of… you know. Anyway, I start talking to this guy next to me, happens to be ex-Singaporean military. And how we got into it, I think I was just trying to make a stink or something. So I start telling this guy that Singapore has the bomb, that anyone ‘in the know’ knows that this little nation-state has at least three nuclear weapons. Ugh, he didn’t exactly agree. My argument went that- Hey, the Israelis trained you guys, you are surrounded by Muslim countries, the U.S. navy is always milling about, and if I was some oil sheik from Kuwait parking billions in banks and real estate here- I would want, you know, some extra-super protection on my investment.
Well, that went absolutely nowhere. He just couldn’t see the light. For that matter, after a couple of beers, I couldn’t either.
Besides, it is frightening to think that you’re sitting in some bar in some country trying to stir things up about their politics and military…
I decided to catch the bus down to Orchard Road. Orchard is the shining beacon of all that is modern, cool, eclectic, and expensive as shit. It is the shopping orgasm for potentates, dictators, sheiks, hedge fund gurus, their wives, and poor Australians on credit. It is a street lined with Cartiers, Armanis, D & Gs, and you know- all manner of rich sorta stuff. Me? I just went to scout another pair of jeans from this Japanese clothing store. So there I was, sipping Starbucks on this outdoor patio about 11:00 in the morning.
Hmm. A white guy. On his cell phone.
Hmm. He sounds American. New York maybe.
Hmm. He’s casually dressed. Nice looking fella- sorta.
I approach his table and pull up a chair, introducing myself. Seems like a nice guy. Still I feel like a recent grad of the English 101 class at the Saigon School of Prostitution Science… you know, the typical questions: What’syaname? What’yadoo?
Turns out that the guy works as a consultant for Morgan Stanley, hoping to join their ranks fully in the coming weeks. Great! Disregarding that I hate the evil of our banking system, or Morgan Stanley even more-
I can sit and talk with this guy about it, whether we agree or not…
But before we delve into the deep and profound conversation of global finance- I need to ask the basic stuff. ‘How do you like Singapore as compared to New York?’ Crap. Such open-ended questions can lead in some very bad directions.
For damn near ten minutes, I had to listen to this mini-mullet, jean and loafer, dick-dog go on and on about the women- all the beautiful, gullible, foxy Asian women he has had, now has, and will have.
So I asked this schmuck how he likes Singapore and now I’m having to listen to this sex-obsessed, self-obsessed, chauvinistic jerk-off go on and on about his exploits, his partying, and how much and why he just loves Singapore.
I never let-on to this guy that I had … ugh… been there for a while, and that I too thought it was nice to have scantily-clad Asian ladies and lady-boys frolicking around everywhere (and note: I have a life-partner that I love dearly)- but after a while, seeing these gals everywhere all the time can actually become an annoying distraction from whatever it is that you’re doing or thinking about.
As I’m starting to get up to ‘ciao’ this dick, his beer-bellied, Morgan Stanley buddy shows up, and they start talking about who’s going to get the kegs for some party that night, and of course: All the foxy Asian babes that will be there, and which ones they plan to fuck. Welcome to global finance. Welcome to why ugly Americans like Asia. Welcome to ‘scum of the Earth.’
Definitely not cool.
So. I’m back in my apartment on the thirteenth floor. I am still sweating from walking about the hood. Sweating is good. When you live on the Equator, you come to appreciate forced-detoxification brought about by becoming one with vapor. Then you wonder about dietary health in America- a plumpy place where you gobble down endless G.M.s and Fructose- none of it able to find a polite way to diplomatically disengage itself from your digestive track.
So after a liter or two of water- I do what must be done:
With all the sensitivity of a performing brain surgeon, I ever so delicately pour the milk lightly and evenly upon the multi-colored grains of oral ecstasy-
Yep, Fruit Loops.
Hmm. What a view, like every day even. The thirteenth floor: The giant, looming crane, the skyline of endless, modernesque buildings, the many colorful tin roofs below, and the coming coalescence of a tropical construction boom and an approaching tropical cloudburst.
Ah, the crane. I feel like I can reach out and touch it. And as so often, I stand in amazement wondering just how nasty the lightning will get before the Bangladeshi construction workers are allowed to abandon the crane. Frankly, I never could figure that one out.
So there I am, standing, watching the approaching storm- savoring the taste of the Loops as they dance across the thousands of taste buds populating my very happy tongue. I even put on YouTube’s La Cigale performance of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Things can’t get much better than this: Beautiful urban views, Chili Pepper Music, an amazing, approaching storm, the vibrant city life below… and the Loops.
I smile to myself. Then, without even realizing it, I look down into my bowl of delicacy…
Floating there, seemingly, meticulously placed among the wheel-shaped grains-
This… this strangely-shaped object.
Wait. Ha! Did a cereal-box toy make its way into the bowl?
Nah. No way.
I look closer.
It is a toy- a little rubber lizard, floating on its back in the milk.
It’s so cute. It looks so real.
Gosh, I’m glad I looked- I could’ve accidently eaten that thing.
That’s not a toy.. That is a lizard.
Oh my, that’s a dead Gecko floating in my Fruit Loops.
It must’ve crawled into the box on the fridge and died there.
He looks so.. so..
Nope, not so cool.
Guess I should get back to the U.S. where things are more normal…