Life Is Like A Wonder Woman!
(Who Is Lyle?)
A man named Lyle Waggoner gave me this ornament one Christmas Eve. Was maybe 20 years ago. We somehow found ourselves on the same commercial fishing boat where the Ping and Nan rivers converge near Nakhon Sawan in central Thailand. The rain. My god, the rain that night. Other than being Americans, and afraid for our lives, we had little in common. Or so we thought. It was only later we learned that we shared the same opium dealer, Chumphron, a tiny wisp of a man with only four fingers who was famous for bare-handing Basa, a local river fish similar to the American catfish, while smoking a cigarette. An impressive feat no matter how many fingers you own.
But that’s neither here nor there.
We were within sight of the dock near the Do Cha Wang bridge when the boat ruptured. It simply split apart, right down the middle, Lyle on one side, me on the other.
There’s little time to think under such circumstances. A man sees his entire life sweep by while simultaneously pretending to calculate survival odds. Being a poor swimmer, I figured my odds were 15 percent. I’ve never been good at gambling.
As my split of the boat began to sink I locked eyes with Lyle.
“Hey, Kevin…” he called out. “Catch.” Then he tossed me this little Wonder Woman figurine. I managed to catch it just as a wave took me off my half of the broken fishing boat.
The next thing I remember is waking up in a small apartment in Ko Si Tai Alley. An elderly woman was shouting at me in Thai “Ko No Tra Vo, Ko No Tra Vo,” at least that’s what it sounded like. I had no idea what in the hell she was yelling at me about. I felt feverish and weird. But she seemed insistent,
“Ko No Tra Vo!” What the hell could it mean?
It was then that I remembered the Wonder Woman figurine. Christ, I hope Lyle made it. I fumbled through my bag, found the Wonder Woman figurine he had tossed me and pulled it out.
“Ko No Tra Vo!,” the old lady shouted.
“Ko No Tra Vo!”
“Ko no tra vo.”
She ran to a desk in the apartment and pulled out a picture of a U.S. military man.
“Ko No Tra Vo.”
Shit. It was Lyle. In some kind of military uniform. Probably a colonel I guessed based on my cursory knowledge of military decorations. Maybe that’s why he seemed so calm when the boat was sinking.
Who was this Lyle guy, I wondered?
Anyway, that was 20 years ago. I kept that Wonder Woman figurine and turned it into the Christmas ornament you see here. It reminds me of how life is so mysterious sometimes and can seem like a television show that is about, like, a puzzle or something but where no one has all the pieces. Yeah, a mysterious television puzzle without pieces. That is life. Real life.