Thursday, March 26, 2009

How strange it is to be anything at all

I'm sitting at the lobby area of the adventure centre, realising how chronically addicted to the Internet I am when a cute-faced blonde girl in her early 20s wanders in, carrying a backpack. She says 'hi' breezily, as though we've greeted each other many times before, and heads into the reception office. She comes back out a minute later and sits down beside me.

"Do you know where the Sleepzone hostel is?" she asks.
"Um, I've never been there but if you go right out the gate and walk for about 30 metres there's a sign that says it's..."
"...a kilometre down the road on the left hand side." She's seen it, she knows. She continues unprompted, "I'm from Germany, I'm just here for a little while. I came over to see my boyfriend. Well, he was my boyfriend, we broke up."
"Oh, I'm sorry, are you OK?" Her outpouring doesn't seem to perturb me, probably because she sounds so very calm, in that way that Germans do.
"I'm fine, this is a good place to be alone and think."
She's right, Killary Harbour is a very fine place to be alone and think. But she doesn't really want to be alone at this moment in time.
"Do you smoke?" she asks, while rolling a cigarette.
"Yeah, but not this week. I'm here to supervise a group of students, I'm a teacher. I never smoke around the kids." I sound more resentful than I ought to, and she hands me the rolling papers and tobacco anyway.
"No, really." At that moment the resident sick kid approaches me and I quickly pass the contraband back to my new buddy. He's paler than a sheet and suffering from acid reflux. He needs to go home, and I need to accompany him at least as far as the train station in Westport. He hands me his phone, where his mother greets me at the other end. "Yes, hello Mrs. Bell...yes, I'll make sure he gets there in plenty of time for the train...yes, I've already called for a taxi..."

The German girl stands up, gives me the faintest of waves and walks out, on her way to Sleepzone, if not sleep. I wasn't the feckless, philosophical backpacker/up-for-anything outdoor pursuits instructor she wanted to talk to.

Though it's an easy mistake to make, to be fair.

13 comment(s):

NaRocRoc said...

Oh how I could tell you a story or two about cute-faced blonde German girls. Oh the memories, the memories.

Le Nord said...

Get 'er bucked!

Sorry ...goodness me I don't know where that came from

Anywho - I enjoyed this post a lot

Eimear said...

Heh, great story. And yay, you're a NMH fan!

Percy Bisque Silly said...

Do your cigarettes not come pre-rolled then?

jothemama said...

It may just have been your pukey pubescent charge, in fairness.

Andrew said...

NRR - So do tell me a story or two about them.

Le Nord - thanks. i have absolutely no idea what your first line means. were you suggesting that i ply the young lady with buckfast, or is it simply a piece of rather crude Nordy rhyming slang?

Eimear - Cheers. And damn you for exposing the source of my title, I'd hoped people would just think I was horribly profound! I bought In the Aeroplane Over the Sea a few months ago and have found it very hard to get some of the lyrics out of my head ever since. I've been dying to use that line as a title for ages, what the content of the piece was about was pretty much irrelevant.

PBS - Mine do, hers didn't.

Andrew said...

Jo - Perhaps so. either way it didn't bother me, it just struck me that she'd probably imagined me to be somewhat more of a kindred spirit than i turned out to be. Responsibility and pallid kids obviously didn't float her boat.

jothemama said...

I can't imagine why! Think how you could have bonded over the bent head of a puking young fella.

B said...

do you have a beard?

"feckless, philosophical backpacker/up-for-anything outdoor pursuits instructor" sounds like beard

Andrew said...

Jo - i honestly wasn't looking to bond with her, I just found her sudden realisation that i wasn't quite who she'd imagined me to be very funny.

B - I most certainly do. Quite magnificent, it is.

NaRocRoc said...

I'd love to Andrew but I swore an oath in the Reichstag that everything that NaRocRoc did in Germany stays in Germany.

B said...

beard'd bring those sort of people to you, unless you're wearing a suit.

A moustache just repels everyone

I had a moustache for a while

Andrew said...

You must've been a teenager then (aren't you still?). A teenager with a 'tache is all kinds of wrong.