Getting closer, guys! Only one more installation of this series to go before the end. Trust me, it’s getting harder to come up with five people, so I hope where this is leading is worth it. At this point, I’ve built it up a bit, so hopefully you’ll dig it the way I do. Let’s get up to the 20th person you’ll meet now.
- Dorian Grey – I met a guy in Vietnam with the best attitude ever. Dude was unshakably happy, to the extent that he eventually got a job as a tour guide on a booze cruise – also known as being a professional partier. Then he casually mentioned the time he was mugged at knifepoint. Okay. Then he mentions how he’s just getting over a bout of dengue. Shit. Then you ask how he got that cut on his arm. Oh, he got mugged again last night. But wanna go to that temple later? What the fuck, dude? Nothing fazes him; every moment is nothing short of the time of his life. This guy would have walked out of the Japanese tsunami and seen nothing but the free sushi. At first, his peppy attitude can be a little unnerving – the only people who get that happy when bad things happen to them are serial killers and Fox News pundits. But eventually, you learn to love him. Hell, with any luck, some of his positivity will rub off on you. But, and I don’t know anything about pseudoscience, but it seems like there’s got to be some kind of Conservation of Emotion. So where is this guy sending all his negative energy?
- Catchphrase: “It’s no big deal. It’s part of traveling, right?”
- The Picture of Dorian Grey – Oh, here’s where he’s sending it. To Sad Sack McSob. Muggings and Dengue happen to Dorian Grey and he just keeps chugging. Meanwhile, his Portrait hangs out safe in the hostel, and yet steadily transforms into a more and more monstrous image of a traveler. This guy has it made: his parents pay for all of his travels, he’s been staying in the nicest hostels, and not a thing’s been stolen. If he was any more Hakuna Matata he’d have to recruit his fattest friend and adopt a baby lion. So what’s with the stick up his ass? If he stubs his toe it ruins his day. And not just his day – he makes it his mission to ruin everybody else’s day as well until nobody wants to be around him anymore. It doesn’t make sense for somebody to act this whiny. The only explanation is that he’s somehow psychokinetically absorbing the negative consequences of cheery Dorian Grey up there. Otherwise, he’s just a shitty traveler. And that’s just too outlandish, right?
- Catchphrase: “Man, don’t go there. I ate there and my stomach kind of hurts. I’m probably going to get food poisoning soon.”
- The Jingo – Well, chalk one up in the “too easy” column. But ever since I started this, I’ve been told I need to include the Asshole American. The guy who runs around the hostel, shouting “’MURCA” in big flag clothing before puking all over himself and passing out early. Well guess what, world? We don’t always pass out early! Stereotypes hurt! So here’s the thing: I know some Americans do this. We’re kind of trained to from the day we’re born. Have you seen our Pledge of Allegiance? That shit is downright cultish. But if you’ve really never taken a closer look, maybe you should. People in your country do this just as much. Or maybe I was imagining the Kiwi dude challenging me to the Haka before pissing himself and passing out on the floor. Or the French guys who felt the need to defend their culture to absolutely nobody for half an hour. Americans can be obnoxious, but that’s less a proud feature of the American culture and more endemic of humans in general. People kind of suck. But that’s why we travel, isn’t it? To escape the people who suck at home and surround ourselves with people who suck in new and interesting ways.
- Catchphrase: “Woo! Our health care and educational systems are organized in a more socially responsible fashion than yours! Fuck yeah cunts!”
- Mom – I make a lot of jokes at other people’s expense, because sometimes other people suck. But I’m a mama’s boy at heart, and you’ll find no denigration here. I love moms. As I write this, I sit in my room in my parents’ house, and I smell bacon cooking downstairs. There’s nothing bad to say about the kind of person who just wants to take care of people, and this is especially true in a hostel. The kind of person who just wants everybody to be happy and cared for. To bring you soup (or its local equivalent) when you’ve got the Delhi Belly. To introduce you to her group of friends when you first arrive, for no reason beyond she wants everybody, including you, to be happy and get along. Mom-status is independent of gender or age, and I once had a 23 year old Mom from Australia who was 7’20”, 16 tons, and chopped down trees with his beard. And if you felt too hungover to go drinking that night, his last stop before hitting the bars was to bring you a Powerade and a bagel. It was one stop short of tucking me and kissing me on the forehead, and he woulda done it if I asked. I love you, Mom.
- Catchphrase: “How’s it going guys? Anybody need anything?”
- The Couple – I’ll admit, I may be stretching on this one. The Couple is a mainstay of every institution and friend group on the planet. They graciously remind us of the grim reality that we will probably never be that happy until the day we die alone, and in return they let us gossip about how lame they’ve become since getting together as a coping mechanism for that reminder. But it gets worse when you’re traveling. In another country, you know that couple isn’t watching an episode of Sex and the City and passing out by nine. They’re having every ounce of fun that you are, and they’re doing it together. They do their little three-legged-walk right up to you when you’re enjoying the majesty of Ha Long Bay and ask you to take their picture. And you can’t say no. So you wince and click the shutter as her leg pops into the air and he kisses her on the head. And when you hand the camera back to them, they ever-so-sweetly ask if you’d like a picture as well. And you can’t say no. So you stand there awkwardly, unsure of what to do with your hands or how big your smile should be, and when they hand your camera back to you, you look at that picture, that monument to your own miserable loneliness, and you promptly delete it and head to the bar.
- Catchphrase: “We’ve been traveling together overseas for two weeks now, but I think the real journey of our souls will never end.”