“Look, Sarah!” Brigitte hissed, pointing out to sea. I whipped around and squinted, trying to see what she was so excited about. Just then the prow of a long-tail boat came into view. Moments later, Gunter’s head appeared.
Gunter is our new, celebrated hero. He has no idea we revere him so. Gunter is in his early fifties, and crack-a-lackin’. He’s German, and he runs the restaurant down the footpath from our bungalows. Gunter is married to a Thai woman, and together they have created one of the most successful restaurants on the beach. It bumps. It grinds. It’s funk-drenched.
Every night, walking down the path toward the beach, one feels drawn to Gunter’s Place simply to imbibe the delicious music that thumps out. Al Green. Marvin Gaye. Seventies disco. It is nearly impossible to resist. And so one finds oneself in Gunter’s Place night after night, enjoying fresh snapper and drinking white wine.
Gunter is all business. He struts up to the table, whips out his pad, and waits for your order. No fuckin’ around. When receiving payment, he pushes his glasses up on his head, squints at your bill, and tells you what you owe. Nothing gets by Gunter, and excesses are unheard of. We’ve been coming to his restaurant for years, but the most you’ll get out of Gunter is a grunt and perhaps a hello when passing on the beach. No fake niceties. No forced friendship. It’s rather a relief to have such a cut and dried relationship with someone.
So why are we suddenly so obsessed with G (an intimate nickname we’ve awarded him behind his back)? Hard to say. Perhaps it’s because his funk has gotten funkier, and his authenticity more remarkable. He’s the only white man I’ve ever seen masterfully driving a long-tail boat. In fact, he’s the only white man I’ve ever seen driving a long-tail boat. One has to give credit where credit is due.
Perhaps G’s appeal lies in the fact that he speaks fluent Thai, and eats fiery Thai food without flinching. (I should mention that we have no hard evidence to support these facts, merely heated speculation that leads us to believe such ponderings are true.)
G spottings, though always frequent, have become wildly exciting. It’s like we’ve discovered a new celebrity. When one has absolutely nothing to do, and so can eat, sleep, read, and live with ease, strange new hobbies pop up. One has to fill one’s time with something.
And so Gunter, ahem, G, is our new favorite hobby.