Project Phongsali: The guys on the team work hard, play hard. Sometimes too hard!
A few days ago, in one of my postings, I characterized the guys on our team as fun-loving, hard playing. I wrote that with the arrival of the full team, I now had to assume the role of fraternity housemother in an effort to keep the guys on the straight and narrow. Well… yesterday the guys were horsing around and almost killed Pyvahn. The incident had nothing to do with landmines, bombs, or any other kind of ordnance.
The guys were taking a bath. A bath! How much trouble can three guys get into taking a bath? Let me tell you.
Pyvahn, Khampoun, and Peng are taking a bath in the river. Peng says to Pyvahn, “I bet I can hold my breath under water longer than you”.
Pyvahn says, “Bet you can’t.”
Pyvahn and Peng designate Khampoun to be the judge and on a count of three both go under. A couple of minutes later up comes Peng, obviously the loser. But, he takes a breath and silently slips back under water again (with, I’m certain, Khampoun’s complicity).
A minute later he comes up a second time, humiliated to see that he’s risen from the river twice while Pyvahn is still under. Again, the corrupt judge turns a blind eye while Peng slips under yet again. When Peng comes up the third time he is truly impressed with Pyvahn’s lung capacity. Or, is it something else?
Khampoun begins to think that “Maybe…I don’t know…maybe there’s something wrong with Pyvahn.” After all, Peng has risen not once, not twice, but three times, and there is Pyvahn still under water. Still holding his breath. Or, is he?
As Khampoun is thinking about the situation and trying as best he can to reason it out, he and Peng notice that Pyvahn is now doing the dead man’s float as he is being swept downstream by the current.
They splash over to Pyvahn, haul him to shore, and pound on his back. Pyvahn proceeds to vomit up an impressive quantity of river water before finally gasping for air. His first words were in triumph, “I am the winner!” He’s in camp now looking fit as a fiddle, much to my disappointment.
Word among the team is that, of course, something like that was bound to happen. Pyvahn, they point out, is a Khamu. And not just a Khamu, but a Khamu with a “black heart”. And, did anyone learn a lesson? Oh, yeah. Of course. Yes indeed, the experience made them all a bit wiser. Everyone agrees: “Don’t ever pick a fight with Pyvahn; a Khamu with a black heart is not to be messed with”.