Monday, March 5, 2012

The Importance of Being Jeremy: When Did My Name Become the Hottest Thing in Southeast Asia?

When I think of Western names that are big in Asia, my own has never even come close to making the hot list.

It's not that I'm under the delusion that Jeremy is an uncommon name. My social life over the years has been stocked with friends and acquaintances named Jeremy. So much so that when my friend Robert, who, like me, is black and whom I met in Buenos Aires, told me that Jeremy is his middle name, I shrugged. Isn't everyone's? I'd even dated several guys named Jeremy, including the sexy Australian who convinced me to visit Bangkok in the first place last June, as he would be going there on holiday a few weeks later.

I fully expected him to be the only Jeremy I'd ever meet here. Late last year, I read a story about a member of Jeremy Renner's entourage getting into a brawl at one of Bangkok's many after-hours watering holes, but my chances of running into him then were about as slim as my waking up one morning next to Ryan Gosling, who's been in town for several months shooting a movie with his Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn and Kristin Scott Thomas. I couldn't imagine either Oscar-nominated actor by chance winding up at DJ Station or G.O.D. one dark and drunken night.

Since returning to Bangkok nearly one week ago, though, Jeremy has suddenly become a recurring theme for this great city I'm once again calling home -- and not only in my dreams, starring the sexiest man alive (my apologies to People magazine and Bradley Cooper) repeating it over and over in the heat of passion.

It first popped up the evening of my interview with Kristin Scott Thomas at the Hotel Muse Bangkok Langsuan, a six-month old branch of the Accor hotel group's MGallery Collection, for which Scott Thomas is the ambassador/spokesperson, and not because the conversation suddenly shifted to her Gosford Park costar Jeremy Northam. The press interviews were to be done in groups of two, and I'd been promised by Accor's Group Director of Marketing & Communications that I would get one-on-one time with the Oscar-nominated star of The English Patient.

While I was sipping my orange juice in the hotel restaurant, going over my questions in my head, the Director of Communications came over and asked his colleague, "Have you seen a writer named Jeremy."

"He's sitting right across from me," she responded, with an embarrassed chuckle. I was slightly miffed that he'd forgotten my name (never mind that I'd totally misplaced his somewhere in my cluttered mind), but I was too busy rehearsing my serious actress-interviewer technique to care too much. I've interviewed plenty of Grammy winners in my day but never an Academy Award acting nominee, so I was understandably nervous.

"Oh no, I know this Jeremy's already here," the Director of Communications said, much to my ego's relief. "I'm looking for another Jeremy."

Another Jeremy?

I would have been annoyed that I wouldn't get one-on-one time with Scott Thomas as promised had I not been so shocked to find that there was another Jeremy running around Bangkok, and he would be interviewing Scott Thomas with me. He was a young, handsome writer from Singapore. How could he possibly be named Jeremy?

"How do you spell your name?" I asked him, still incredulous. "J-E-R-E-M-Y?"

"Yes, I do," he answered, less interested in our matching names than in what I was wearing. "Did you get your shirt from Zara?" (I did, from a branch in Kuala Lumpur.)

I would have chalked it up as an interesting coincidence had another Southeast Asian Jeremy not entered my life via a story that my Spanish friend David told me two nights later. After we spent a full five minutes hugging and pulling apart to stare at each other in disbelief because we were standing face to face for the first time since December, when he left Bangkok to spend the holidays back home in Barcelona, he proceeded to tell me all about the hottest Vietnamese guy he'd met weeks earlier.

"His name was Jeremy," he said. "Can you believe that?"

Had I not met Singaporean Jeremy just two days earlier, I probably wouldn't have, but the only thing I could think was "Hotter than me?" Then he told me an unlikely story that had me laughing so hard that I back-burnered my ego again.

He and the guy had met at DJ Station, and a few days later, he received a "Hi, this is Jeremy" text message from him, inviting David over to his hotel. David, aware that I was due back in Bangkok any day, immediately thought that it was me. But why was I being so suggestive, insisting that he come to my hotel room? We're close, but not in that way.

In the end, David, still thinking that he was talking to me, arranged to meet up with "Jeremy" at a local bar. On the day of the "date," he showed up at the appointed time, fully expecting to see me for the first time in months. Obviously, I never arrived. But Vietnamese Jeremy did, much to David's surprise.

"Hey! What are you doing here?" The greeting must have sounded strange to Jeremy No. 3.

"This is where we are supposed to meet. Well, here I am."

Suddenly, it all came together. All that time, David had thought he was making plans with me, but he'd actually been making plans with the "hottest Vietnamese guy." Once I stopped laughing and picked myself off the floor, I thought about asking him if he'd been disappointed, but I reconsidered.

If Bangkok is going to be crawling with good-looking guys named Jeremy from this day forth, I'd like to at least continue looking into my mirror mirror on the wall, deluded that I will always be the hottest Jeremy of all.
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