His name is Taka. Apparently, he’s from Brazil.
Yesterday, Yuni, Brigitte and I sat at Big Blue, sipping shakes and having lunch. It had been awhile since we’d all been in Seattle together, and we were catching up. Suddenly a guy was standing there, an expectant smile on his face. “Oh god,” Brigitte said under her breath. “It’s Taka.” I vaguely remembered him from years before- something about him creeping up onto my sister’s porch uninvited one night, and offering to take her off to his bungalow for a Thai massage.
He started talking to Yuni. Brigitte leaned in to me and said, “Look at him. Look at that smile on his face. He can hardly handle the fact that he’s talking to three cute ladies right now.” I looked up at him. He certainly seemed happy. He could hardly wipe the smile off his face.
But then it got awkward. We didn’t really want him there. No one knew him beyond the slightly sleazy impression he had left on all of us at various points in time. He wasn’t a “friend,” just someone who had been on the beach at the same time as us. But he wouldn’t leave. Even when it became clear that we had nothing to say to him, he just sat at the table, grinning incessantly, looking from me, to Yuni, to Brigitte, and back again. We tried to have our own conversation, but it was uncomfortable, deliberately leaving someone out. However if we included him, he began leering instantly, offering Thai massages in his room. Brigitte looked over my shoulder. “Look, Say, rabbits!” she said. I turned and looked over my shoulder. Sure enough, there was a large cage outside with two white rabbits in it. The perfect distraction.
Taka was leering at Yuni now, so we took our chance and jumped up. I felt bad leaving her, but it was every woman for herself. Brigitte and I walked outside and peered at the rabbits. They were little dreadlocked things, nibbling on baby corn and fresh greens. We watched them for a moment, then Brigitte said, “Do you want to walk down through the bungalows, for old times’ sake?” I agreed, and we began making our way barefoot, down the lush jungle path through the bungalows. At the end, where the bungalows give way to a rising hill and dense jungle, we stopped. We spotted a group of abandoned plants in an open patch of sun, wilting and sighing in their pots. “This makes me so mad,” Brigitte said, fingering the dying plants. “They just leave them out here to die.” She counted one, two, three, four dead plants in a row. Her gardener’s conscience was appalled. “Let’s come back and steal them later,” I suggested, and her eyes got huge. “Yes, let’s!” she said. “We’ll come back with a bag tonight, and pack them away. No one will know the difference. They literally forget about them, and leave them out here to die.” We agreed to make a reconnaissance mission to the Big Blue bungalows later that night, when everyone was distracted with a movie at the restaurant. We had plants to save.
Then it was time to go back. Yuni’s predicament was weighing on my conscience. I knew she was stuck in there with Taka. We started to walk back, and as the restaurant came into sight through the dense jungle foliage, I saw Taka walking towards us. He smiled, in that paradoxical way of his- predatory, but ridiculously harmless. We looked back. “Want a Thai massage?” he offered, nearly bursting with giddiness. He seemed to be oozing, wiggling, but he wasn‘t actually moving. He was just standing there staring at us. “Tempting, but no,” Brigitte said, picking her way barefoot through the rocks. He looked at me and wiggled his eyebrows a few times. “Uh, no thanks,” I said, quickly following Brigitte.
This morning I decided to have breakfast at Big Blue, as I can usually rip off free internet there. It was early, and not many people were in the place. I was enjoying my pancakes and reading my book when I felt a shadow on my left shoulder. I looked up. Taka was standing there, smiling. His eyes were bleary, and his skin looked damp and sandy. “Oh, hi Taka,” I said, barely able to keep the sarcasm out of my voice. He pulled up a chair and gazed at me. I continued to read my book. He continued to gaze. Then he said, all naughty-like, “Want a Thai massage?” I looked at him sharply and said no. His gaze rolled seductively over my body, coming to rest playfully on my eyes. I stared at him, stone-faced. “But you have such a nice body for me to practice on…” he said, winking and rolling his tongue over his teeth.
I didn’t know whether to slap him or laugh. He was so ridiculous. Just then, Brigitte walked up. She had a look on her face that was a cross between no-nonsense, and utter disgust. She didn’t even look at him when she sat down. A bit later, after once again trying to converse around him, Brigitte had had enough of the weird vibe and stood up. “I’ll meet you outside,” she said, glancing pointedly at my empty plate. “See you in a minute?”
“For sure,” I said, already beginning to wrap things up. As I was putting everything away in my bag, I felt Taka gazing at me again. I looked at him. He had a naughty expression on his face, like we were sharing a deliciously private joke. “She’s very serious today, no?” he asked, nodding in Brigitte’s direction. His eyes rolled back towards me, and he gave me a wolfish smile. “And you?” he asked, winking and smiling. “Are you so serious?”