Day Six: A Character-Building Exercise

Today’s Prompt: Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?

This was a difficult one. In the end, I decided to base this loosely on some of the people I hung out with in Vietnam.

There are about fifteen of us, and we all pile into an already busy bar. The owner sees how many of us there are and begins moving chairs around. They’re small plastic chairs, barely large enough for a fully grown adult to sit on, and they’re more uncomfortable than anything I’ve ever known. We order drinks one after the other, the employees rushing back and forth to bring us beers and ‘buckets’ of vodka and coke. In a large circle, we take up a significant amount of space and occupy it for most of the night. We’re good for business, which may be the only reason we’re always allowed to stay.

We’re noisy. We shout louder than everyone else in the place put together. The bar spills out on the street and so do our voices, projecting merriment and the idle gossip of foreigners without any worries or cares in the world.

Some of the guys are large and imposing, and if they’re put into the right situation then they could be tempted to fight, but right now they only want to get drunk. The night is nothing unusual: our voices grow louder and louder as time goes on, and we’re friendly enough with the owners for one of the lads to joke around and attempt to dance with the oldest one. She brushes him off with a laugh, and he moves around to apologise noisily to the people sat nearby, almost knocking one of their drinks over in his drunkenness.

Four or five drinks in, and the guys are becoming more boisterous. One of them stands and, with a proud shout, loudly announces he’s going to take his top off. The call receives a number of inquisitive glances and even more sniggers, but he pulls it off defiantly without any concerns for the onlookers; several of the others follow his lead, spinning their shirts around above their heads. The lads who are still sober – or controlled – enough to keep their tops on egg them on encouragingly.

The girls are slower with their drinks, but not by much. Most of them are drinking stronger stuff, which is partly why they take their time. They laugh and gossip with one another easily, enjoying the laziness of the evenings that they have become used to. One of them stares around with glazed eyes, one pupil open wider than the other, smiling happily to herself at some joke that only she knows, and as the others slowly begin to follow suit it is apparent that they have spent money on more than simply alcohol. They buzz with fresh energy, cheering the guys on as they take over the music player and make some terrible, cheesy choices.

We shout the lyrics at the ceiling, unabashed by everyone around us staring. Conversation flows without end, words tossed from one person to another easily, ideas firing around the circle. Unlike those around us who sit in awe of the culture they have immersed themselves into, there to travel and see the sight, we fit surprisingly into our surroundings. We know enough of the language to order beer in it, and the affection we receive from the employees is enough to show those around us that we are not strangers here. We shine with the confidence of people relaxed in our environment, as though we have never known anywhere else to go out drinking.

Tomorrow we go back to work, but tonight we go wild.


10 thoughts on “Day Six: A Character-Building Exercise

  1. That’s right, it was difficult! I wish I could write about it, perhaps next!
    I learn it from you, thank you! I did understand about this challenge, the difficult was to choose the most interesting person or people!

    Liked by 1 person

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