Songkran: I, Target

I left my breakfast place and headed for where I thought soakers and soakees would be a soakin’. My strategy was simple: 1) Acquire offensive capability, 2) Use it. Never made it, because it was too much fun being a target.

The restaurant is on a minor, low traffic street. As I approached a street where things were happening I saw other dry people making halfhearted attempts to avoid getting wet, like I had done on my way to breakfast. Then it hit me: Be the target. One of the trademark characteristics of nerds is that when given a choice between doing what everyone else is doing or doing something weird, we’ll embrace the weird.

Be the target. Seek the soak, tease the toss, welcome the wet. Don’t evade, don’t fire back, be the least predictable and maybe funniest target they’ve seen. It was easy to see what the other unarmed tourists were doing, part of what I did was just the opposite of what they did. The rest was improvised and honed over repeated
interactions.

I have to go off on a tangent here to explain who I was being the target for. Some soakers had established fixed positions with a hose constantly running into a barrel. Some groups were on foot, refilling at anyone’s barrel. The mechanized units were in the back of pickup trucks, a group usually armed with small buckets they filled from a plastic 55+ gallon drums. Cargo tricycle owners were raking in the dough by selling blocks of ice to those with stationary barrels.

My strategy was simple: make the soakers laugh. Some examples:

On a truck where everyone was preoccupied with targets on the one side I’d approach the other, match my speed to the truck’s crawl and do something with my body language that said ‘HEY, I’M A TARGET’, wait for them to notice, then do nothing to evade the onslaught.

I’d undo one shirt button, hold it open and challenge the squirters to hit the target. Many complied. At the girly bars where their hydro delivery systems included small buckets, I’d pull out the elastic of my short’s waist band and invite a pour. Sure woke me up the first time I encountered ice water. I’m not saying if I went back for seconds.

I found out fast the little kids with squirt guns liked a moving target. I’d stop about 1/3 of the way in from their maximum range, bend my knees and spread my arms like a basketball player on defense waiting for the offensive one to make a move. The kid(s) would fire and I’d duck, dodge and weave. Didn’t try too hard because I didn’t want to slip, the kids enjoyed it more when they hit me and I’m too out of shape to keep that shit up very long.

One of my moves was to hold my hat as a target, seeing if they could hit the head hole with their squirt guns. If they played along, I’d eventually approach and motion for them to fill it with a scoop of water, which I would then empty on myself by putting the hat on. That always got a laugh.

Sometimes the situation was such that I’d just left a group of soakers with whom I’d shared a laugh and encountered some relatively dry people headed toward the group. I’d reverse direction, get behind them and make big gestures pointing them out as targets. The soaker group ALWAYS feigned disinterest until the dryones were in the middle of the target box and then they’d toss & squirt en mass.

A group would soon lose interest in the target that didn’t run or fight back but I usually managed to get one more good salvo from them by turning my back, bending at the waist and wiggling my butt. I never knew ice water could be so … startling.

I received a cautionary tale beforehand from a friend who had been through a few Songkrens that taught me an important lesson: Keep My Mouth Shut At All Times. They weren’t tossing around Evian.

The combined effects of sun, heat, exertion and Songkran resulted in my doing something for the first time in my life: Buying a bottle of water while completely soaked in freshwater from hat to sandals. I pulled out my wallet and saw the opportunity to do some silent comedy for the clerks: Opened the wallet, turned it upside down and shook it to dislodge most of the water, selected a single bill, snapped it once in a ‘crack the whip’ motion, then pulled it between two fingers for the clothes wringer effect, handed it to the girl with a shrug and a “Sorry”. I love it when young women laugh.

——

It’s 5:30pm. I’ve been home since two. Came in physically tired but not sleepy. How tired?

That tired. The white stuff is dried chalk paste applied to cheeks as a blessing. Everybody gets caked with the stuff, what you see here is the left overs.

Just came off the balcony where I saw that the stationary groups of water tossers who were in full swing at 2 have all packed up for the day. I guess that scattered Songkran showers are a daytime thing.

Still rather beat. I expect tomorrow I’ll wake up to find that muscles I haven’t used in way too long will be complaining. Ibuprofen and Alleve are at the ready.

No town trip for me tonight. I’ll avoid temptation by walking to one of the two nearby eateries, refuel and go to sleep early. I need to pace myself, there are two more days. Tomorrow I find out if offense is more fun or tiring than being a target.

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