Love in Southeast Asia: A Yanni Concert and Old French Fries

“How are your fries?”

“They taste like McDonald’s.”

“Oh, YUM!”

“They taste like McDonald’s shipped them here three weeks ago and they’ve been sitting on the counter in the kitchen ever since.”

It had been a long day. We’d traveled many miles into the Sri Lankan high country during a five hour van ride. Each one of us was weakened from multiple battles with car sickness and bladder control. We’d seen a culture show, the country’s most sacred temple and a tooth from the Lord Buddha.

We’d staggered into “The Pub” and taken our seats at a long, rectangular table in the middle of the room.

We’d passed around menus and ordered drinks.

We’d silently perused the small selection of Western food.

“How long before it’s appropriate to go back to our hotel?”

My french fry ordering friend could barely keep his eyes open.

One beer and eight stale french fries into our evening, the giant projector screen on the wall of the bar started humming.

Three minutes later I look up and see Yanni, standing in an orchestra pit surrounded by keyboards.

“Is the pub making fun of us right now?”

My memories of the nineties are dotted with images of Yanni as the biggest cultural inside joke of the decade.

“They can’t be serious about this.”

I order a plate of roasted cashews. Moments later,  I’m glued to the screen.

At first I resist it, like romantic feelings on a first date with a known womanizer.

I try to cover up my immediate infatuation by making sarcastic remarks and witty jokes.

I’m powerless against it.

Before the cashews arrive, we’re all enthralled.

The Yanni concert is mesmerizing.

Yanni stands at his keyboards making seductive faces with his pre-hipster, non-ironic, mustachioed grin. His likeness to my best friend Nick Stamos is making the entire experience twice as good.

He points at various musicians to cue them to go to work. Smiles. Occasionally moves his hips.

It’s a phenomenon.

I’m like a middle aged housewife home alone on a Friday night in 1995.

We toss around guesses about how Yanni got so famous. We collectively wonder how he’s captivated our attention more fully and dramatically than anything else on our otherwise spectacular trip.

We are all baffled.

“He doesn’t sing.”

“Or play an instrument.”

“I’m pretty sure he doesn’t even write this stuff.”

For an hour we fill the pub with joyful exuberance and, at times, uncontrollable laughter.

I have tears in my eyes from laughing so hard.

When it’s over, we give digital Yanni a standing ovation.

It’s better than hologram Tupac.

It’s the weirdest. Most unexpected. Best night of the trip.

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