I’m really big on giving people nicknames. Once you’ve got one from me, it stays forever. While plenty of people wish I would forget, some people actually get upset that they haven’t gotten one. The thing is, there has to be a reason, a moment when a nickname is bestowed.
This is the tale of how our dear friend, Antonio, received his naming.
Our friend Jess had moved to Vietnam to teach English and meet her father’s family. What was meant to be a six-month trip turned into an expatriation. It only made sense that we utilize the opportunity to visit a far away locale with a seasoned guide.
Initially, the plan was for us to have a relatively intimate visit, but that was quickly tossed into the dumper, as Jess got more spastic excited and extended the invitation to everyone she knew. First Beth’s friend Nancy, and then Antonio added themselves to our itinerary. A week before we left, our friend Lauren announced she was coming in from Australia where she was living.
I cringed and giggled at the thought. Lauren and Nancy were a relatively unknown quality, but going third world country hopping with Antonio had the potential for glorious disaster. He is a 150 lb, hyper-animated, fashion obsessed mondo fabulous Cuban from New Jersey. He revels in calling people “faggot,” because (as he explained it) doing so is a perk that comes with being a member of the cocksuckers club. Antonio throws shade like a pro and tends to breaks down into crying fits when he’s had too much whiskey. How the trip would play out was beyond of my realm of speculation, but I knew it wouldn’t be boring.
I had reservations about all of these people being dumped into Jess’ tiny, Ho Chi Minh City housing complex apartment, but she had other plans. Jess’ was hell bent on visiting virtually every place she had seen in the region over the course of two years, and re-experience them with us within a few days.
After our fist night in Ho Chi Minh, we were on the road with multiple tourist sites and temples planned for each day. We shot down to the delta, up the Mekong river, into the jungles of Cambodia, back into Vietnam, over to Bangkok, then up into the Thai countryside, over to the Island of Ko Pha Ngan, back down to Bangkok, then finally, Ho Chi Minh again.
The first 12 days of the trip were a blur of hard travel and hard drinking. We went from bus ride to ferry to bus to river steamer to shuttle bus to bus to shuttle bus to bus to plane to shuttle bus to bus to ferry…and to Ko Pha Ngan where we stayed for a full week. (Then later, ferry, bus, train, plane, and then plane home.)
I was high on the rush of whirlwind movement and I never wanted it to end, but Antonio and the girls just weren’t built for it. As the insane schedule wore on, the heat, booze and raw living took its toll. Each of us (with the exception of Lauren) had a melt down at some point in the trip.
It was definitely time for a long deserved pit stop and the idea of lounging on the beach sounded perfect. All I wanted was a few days of peace while I gorged myself on curry and whatever suspect bottles of “Rhum” or “Whicky” I could unearth.
My face dropped as Jess enthusiastically informed us that Ko Pha Ngan was Thailand’s “Party Island,” and home of the planets largest, monthly occurring beach rave– The Full Moon Party.
“Oh Bobby Brown you are just an old stick in the mud. We are going to par-tay par-tay par-tay and I am going to make this island my bitch” Antonio over gesticulated in a single breath.
48 hours later, party island had spit out his frazzled, demoralized remains .