“This is not ‘Nam, Smokey, there are rules!” – John Goodman as Walter Sobchak, from The Big Lebowski
Joe Nix and I began our relationship doing little more than quoting lines from one of the greatest films of all time, The Big Lebowski. As far as male friendships go, it’s a great way to start. Joe and I lived in the same tambon during training and went to the same language class every morning, so it was easy to get to know each other.
Joe’s originally from Texas, but had been living in Boulder, Colorado. He currently lives in the province of Yasothon, not too far from Surin. Joe can do it all. He’s always welcoming, but can also be very gentle and caring. There’s also the side of him that lets loose like Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo on Las Vegas, circa 1971.
“I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive …” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?” – Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream
Almost every morning during training in Uthai I’d bike to the end of my road to either wait for Joe or to find Joe waiting for me. We’d take the 8-kilometer ride together riding single file under heavy traffic and side-by-side when we could, all the while talking of the films of the Coen Brothers, the stories of Hunter Thompson and the mystery of what our host families fed us for dinner the night before. I remember Joe telling me the story of how minutes before reaching my road, he’d kicked a barking dog in the face while maintaining his balance on his bike.
The one memory that may never leave my memory is the motorcycle accident we witnessed. The two of us were biking on the left shoulder of a busy two-lane road when we heard a crashing sound and a yelping dog. We turn back to see a dog has been hit by a motorcycle. The dog’s on its back screaming followed by the motorcyclist sliding down the road followed by his motorcycle and, finally, followed by his helmet. His helmet is moving fast enough to almost catch up to us. With the dog still yelping, the motorcycle and motorcyclist still sliding and the helmet catching up to us, Joe doesn’t hesitate and yells to me, “This is not ‘Nam, Smokey, there are rules!”
Once the shock of what happened passed me, I couldn’t stop laughing and still do when this memory jumps in my head.
Any weekend spent with Joe is bound to not only be fun, but meaningful. The man has a heart the size of Chiang Mai and can make his friends laugh like they’re Thai.