Monday, June 16, 2008

Host Can Also Mean the Thing Off Which the Parasite Feeds

Dear Native People of Hawaii,

Just wanted to say sorry.

I don't just mean for how our country colonized yours. Stole your land. Exploited your natural resources. Decimated your national sovereignty. Subjugated your people. Made that Brady Bunch episode in which your islands seem to be a source of greater tabu than even polyester flares.

All that was bad stuff. But I knew we'd done it. This weekend I learned of an even greater evil we have visited upon you and your beautiful home.

Self-righteous, self-proclaimed hippies.

The ones who refer to a five-week vacation as a spiritual journey.

Sure, just like the souvenir shop is the Stations of the Cross and my spoon collection is Holy Communion.

Back in April, my squeeze the Cheez and I caught a couchsurfing wave in Rotterdam (not usually known for hanging-ten). So when someone contacted me on couchsurfing and asked us to host them, it seemed karmically correct to say yes.

Until I found out he was a clown. Worse than that, he turned out to be one of those guys in his mid fifties who's all about embracing the universe. Particularly, it seems, embracing women somewhat younger than himself, given the Grecian formulaing of his hair.

We invited Bozo and his traveling companion, who had just arrived in Portland the night before (and thank heavens had opted for a week-long sublet somewhere in lieu of a couple nights on our couch), over for brunch. When I asked over the phone if they had any food needs, Bozo said We only eat healthy food.

I meant, do you have any restrictions? Like, do you eat eggs? I said.

We do if they're healthy eggs he answered. Whew, good thing he told me that. We had a whole carton full of salmonella eggs we were going to serve. We'll just put those aside for when people we actually know and care about are coming over.

Within about thirty seconds of their arrival, the Cheez and I had both taken a distinct dislike to Bozo. I distrust tanned people Cheez whispered to me. Not brown people. Not black people. Just tanned people.

Bozo was tan because a year ago he made his life's spiritual quest to move to Hawaii. Now, after a year, it turned out Hawaii wasn't right. Because apparently in Hawaii you actually have to trim the flora and clean up the poop from the fauna. How could a spiritual paradise be so damn full of nature? Oh, and the jobs don't pay as well as he'd like.

Thus, he was checking out Portland.

It was a beautiful day here in Portland. So I made a point of mentioning the rain as often as I could. I believe I mentioned the early February suicide rates. More than once.

But really it was the mid-June homicide rate that was the risk.

We need someplace where we can be artists and activists Bozo proclaimed. Then he took his juggling balls into the backyard while we cooked his meal, served his meal, then cleaned up after his meal.

There have been many occasions when I have wanted to separate a man from his balls, but never more so than with Bozo.

After brunch, we headed out for a bike ride. Cheez and I took our tandem, lending Bozo and his friend our commuter bikes.

I'm sorry we don't have extra helmets, we said.

I don't wear a helmet. God is my insurance. Bozo said. We could only wonder who the actuary was that penciled out that policy.

Your third gear doesn't work Bozo informed Chuck. This apparently is Hippie for I cannot figure out how to work this mechanism. Rather than ask for help, I will declare it defective.

We took them through many lovely neighborhoods. In the spirit of art and activism, they inquired diligently about the real estate prices. Bozo also insisted there was some special deal chocolate he needed, so we took them to the local health food supermarket. After interrogating several staff members, he turned to his traveling companion and snortled Can you believe it? They don't have any raw cacao.

Yeah, but now that you're here, we've got a heap of steaming fresh kaka.

Bozo was subtle. He hinted that he wanted us to give him our bike map by saying it sure would be great to have that bike map.

I told him we'd take him to Powells where he could buy a map. Cheez showed him the map rack. He bought a bike map. He asked Cheez to show him where all the health food stores were. But when Cheez pointed them out, he complained that the streets were hard to find.

Because of course the bike map highlights bike routes. Not big commercial streets.

You know how sometimes when you have spent the day with your young niece and nephew, you are in the habit of having to sometimes remind your interlocutors We say please when we want something or We say thank you when someone gives us something or We look with our eyes, not our hands or You are being a real whiny shit, cut it out.

Well, that's not how it was with Bozo. Because it wasn't sometimes that he forgot those things. It was freakin' constantly.

You are a very patient woman I told Bozo's traveling companion during a private moment at the end of the afternoon. That is non-Hippie for This guy is a rude, selfish jerk, and honey, you can do better.

To which she responded, He's such a great guy. I've been in love with him for two years. But he says I don't have my stuff together enough for us to be a couple.

To which I responded, You are beautiful, warm, caring, and thoughtful, and honey, you can do better. That is an alternative non-Hippie way to say This guy is a rude, selfish jerk, and honey, you can do better.

We hugged. She cried. Then I read her the essay about my crazy family that I'm going to be reading on Live Wire this coming week.

We sent them on their way and made sure to double-lock the door.

And, as much as I feel bad for all the crap we've done to the people of Hawaii, I really hope Bozo stays in their time zone, and keep his rubber nose and oversized clown sandals out of mine.

1 comment:

M said...

not all clowns are bad. in Oakland, they want to join the army.