Travels with Fred the Flea

Wednesday, December 3, 1997

Finally, no more airplanes, it appears. Laurie seems to be remarkably contented. She spent much of the morning soaking in one of those big bowls of water that she likes to put Ralph in, and this one had bubbles three feet in the air. I explored her closet while she did that. She has also been spending a lot of time sitting on what she calls her "veranda" drumming that strange rhythm on that computer. It is truly beautiful out here. It overlooks a slightly brown river, with hundreds of things called "boats" going up and down it, a huge swimming pool, trees with big pointy broad leaves - they are called "palm trees" and a lush garden full of purple and white flowers. It’s fairly noisy out here, but the noises are somehow relaxing. I’m hearing boat motors, voices coming from "loudspeakers" saying words that I don’t understand, and whistles. I can’t tell which are bird whistles and which are human whistles. But the air is full of them. It’s also HOT! Lucky I don’t sweat or I’d be sweating like a pig, as is Laurie.

I’m getting a little confused about what to call this woman again. First I thought she was "Mom" and then I thought she was "Laurie." Now some of the humans around here are calling her either "Madame" or "Ms. Jo-nes." Maybe these humans are not quite contented with one identity. I don’t know why else they would be changing their names so often.

There is a man called the "floor butler" that comes in from time to time to give Madame flowers and equipment and bananas. He seems very nice and Madame certainly seems to enjoy his company. She calls him "Joe."

Madame and I joined the rest of the women for lunch. I sampled some of the food and it didn’t thrill me a whole lot, but it made Madame very happy. They talked about "shopping" - they had been doing that all morning and they seemed quite pleased about it. I wonder if shopping is like hopping. I know that hopping pleases me.

Tonight they are all talking about visiting a place called "Patpong Road." I wonder if I will find any canines there. I’m getting very bored with this diet. But first we have to wait for the human they call "Alf" to return from some mysterious place he disappeared to several hours ago. He sounds like an interesting fellow. I wonder if he encounters more four-legged hairy creatures in his adventures than Madame does. I may have to take a ride on his head one of these days and find out.

It’s dark now. The river is much quieter. These strange birds keep whistling and calling. It's almost an eerie sound. Very piercing but in a sweet sort of way. The whistles echo up and down the river. I hear motors everywhere and some sort of Thai classical music coming from somewhere. The river reflects the lights of the billboards and shops that line it. The palm trees of the hotel garden are all lit with spotlights. I'm looking at a building called "the Shangi-La hotel. " It's comfortably warm. Our floor butler just brought Madame some cute little ham sandwich thingies on caraway seed buns. They were under glass with purple flowers. I wonder why she doesn’t eat the flowers.

Well, I certainly learned a bit more about what makes these humans happy tonight. I must admit that it is more than incomprehensible to me, though.

Everyone met in the lobby of this remarkable building and piled into two cars and drove to a place they call “Patpong Road.” It’s not a road for cars, though. It’s a road absolutely jam-packed with human flesh. The lights are so bright you would think it is daytime. The humans walk up and down the road engaging in that favorite pastime of theirs - shopping. It seems like they spend an awful lot of time arguing with the nice people with all the fancy things about how many of those little paper things to exchange for the fancy things. But they all seem happy in the end.

Madame and her friend Alf did not engage in the shopping activities on Patpong, though. Instead they seemed to prefer the dark noisy rooms full of beautiful women in underwear. Ralph would LOVE the dressing rooms of these places. I’ll have to remember to tell him about it if I ever see him again. Alf and Madame found a place called “Pussy Galore.” When I saw the name of this place I got very excited, thinking that I might find some tasty cats to visit. But there were no felines to be seen. Only women in underwear. They were doing some very strange things with candles. As I said, the human activities in this place are a little incomprehensible to me. I mean, candles are supposed to light up the room. But these candles kept finding their way into some very dark places. Hmmmm.

Madame seemed very happy in this place. A friendly young woman named “Oh” rubbed Madame’s neck for the longest time. I don’t believe that I have ever seen Madame smile for such a long time with her eyes closed. She kept saying to Alf “Give her some money...” Oh really liked Madame. She liked Madame so much that she kept smearing red stuff from her lips all over Madame’s face. When Oh finished attending to Madame’s neck, Madame proclaimed that her TMJ problem was cured forever. I don’t know what she meant by that, but I think Madame should send a letter to the human medical journals announcing this ingenious technique.

Eventually Alf and Madame dragged themselves out of Pussy Galore out into the bright lights and human confusion of Patpong Road and made their way down to a place called the “Kangaroo Club.” Here again I got excited because, although I have never seen a kangaroo live, I have seen pictures of them on that loud box in Madame’s living room. They look very furry. I thought for a moment that I was going to find myself some dessert from down under. Well, it turns out that that dessert from down under can be found in the Kangaroo Club, but it’s not a dessert that a flea can appreciate.

Alf and Madame appeared to enjoy the Kangaroo Club immensely. They sat at the bar for a very long time engaging in intellectual discussions with two elegant Thai sisters named Nung and Gup. Madame became quite friendly with a charming young woman named Melissa. Or rather, Melissa became quite friendly with Madame. This was a little difficult for me to understand. Melissa seemed to like Madame a lot. She was very affectionate with Madame and tried so very hard to show her affection to Madame. And Madame seemed to like Melissa, but for some reason she insisted on giving Melissa huge amounts of that paper stuff the humans use for shopping just to convince Melissa to take her hands off of Madame’s jeans. Finally Melissa accepted Madame’s paper and settled down with her hands on the bar instead of between Madame’s legs and drank coffee with Madame. They had a rather stimulating discussion about the effect of the Asian market crash on the global economy. Eventually Alf and Madame decided it was time to go exploring again.

When they went out into the bright lights and noise, they found their friends, still shopping. The friends pointed out the red smears all over Madame’s face, and Madame seemed to be much appreciative of that. As Madame was wiping her face, she got distracted by some beautiful dresses and trinkets that she decided she must have. After engaging in some arguments with the owners of these things, Madame ended up with a large bag of goodies. But she looked around and that Alf fellow was nowhere to be seen. Madame went hunting. She explored a few of these dark rooms with women in underwear on her own until she found, at the very back of one of them, her friend Alf, sitting at the bar enjoying the scenery. He seemed very surprised to see Madame, but not disappointed.

Madame and Alf then engaged in a long conversation about the joys of women versus the joys of men. Madame convinced Alf that it was time to find a place full of men in their underwear. So Alf and Madame ventured to a parallel road called “Patpong II” where they visited a place called “Screw Boy.”

Now, although Madame had certainly enjoyed her neck massage and her stimulating intellectual discussions at the Kangaroo Club, she seemed to be even more pleased to be in this place. She took a liking to #26, a muscular handsome young Thai man who wiggled his pelvis in front of Madame for the longest time. Unfortunately for Madame, #26 seemed to be more interested in Alf than he was in Madame. Alf decided it was time to go exploring again.

Madame suggested, not for the first or last time this evening, that perhaps it was time to leave. But in their search for a bathroom, Alf and Madame wound up in a place called “Patpong III.” This was perhaps the most confusing place of all. The men seemed to be women and the women seemed to be men. I don’t know how humans do that. Or why. But we didn’t stay long there.

As Alf and Madame tried to make their way to the car, they ended up visiting several more places where Madame received more neck rubs, and girls, no longer even in their underwear, were doing even stranger things with bowling pins and cigarettes. The experience was getting a little too surreal for my little brain to comprehend and Madame seemed to be getting a little overwhelmed herself.

The desire for some fresh air hit Alf and Madame and they found themselves sitting at an open bar where Madame made friends with a tall, sophisticated young woman named “Fai.” Fai was very interested in both Alf and Madame. She was a very friendly young woman who invited Alf and Madame over to her house for coffee and doughnuts. Alf and Madame reluctantly declined the invitation, but Fai persisted and ended up giving them her address and telephone number and invited them to go up to nothern Thailand the next day to visit her family. Alf and Madame promised to call her.

The lights of Patpong Road were turned off by now. Most of the people had disappeared and the shopping had ceased. Alf and Madame found their way to the car and woke the driver who took them back to the hotel. Tired, but happy, Madame somehow found her way to her bed, stumbling over the carpet only four or five times, drank several large bottles of water and lapsed into unconsciousness halfway on and halfway off of her bed.

December 2nd / December 4th

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