Monday, May 22, 2006

Canadian Fake Hippy

So, I just got back from Maui.

I know that sounds ridiculous, like I have WAY more money than I know what to do with and just go around lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills, abandoning BMWs on the side of the road when they run out of gas, and throwing away giant, meat-filled crab legs because it just required too much effort to get at their succulent goodness.

The truth of the matter is that my insanely talented and driven girlfriend won a trip from the bosses of her massive computer company -- people who seriously have WAY more money than they know what to do with -- and last friday I was fortunate enough to ride her coat tails the entire eight hour flight to Maui. The trip was actually supposed to start on the following Monday but we were both ansty to leave our respective small corners of Texas and partake in the whole paradise thing, so we left early and stayed in a hostel for three nights.

If you've never stayed in a hostel, you are missing out on one of the most entertaining and potentially bizarre rites of youthful travel. Now, before we get too far into this I have to disclaim a little. I'm sure it's possible to spend a few mundane and unspectacular nights in a hostel, so I would hate for you to take the communal plunge based on my advice and come up with nothing but boring stories of milquetoast acquaintances. But I have to say, in my experiences, hostels act like a cultural petri dish attracting the most happily wayward and comical caricatures of vagabond life from across the globe. They thrive in the bulletin board messages, grimy shower floors, and harlequin appointed kitchens and revel in telling tales with practiced nonchalance of wander lust sated. I love it and it's hugely entertaining.

Cases in point: In a Buenos Aires hostel I met three shopping bag draped Ecuadorans who had gone to Argentina to take advantage of a suddenly weak economy and, as they said in broken English, "To make fuck with the Argentine womens." In that same hostel I met a Chinese guy who lived in Little Rock, spoke English with a choppy hillbilly twang, and spent most of his time in the city's sprawling parks reading books on physics and advanced mathematics. These random encounters are as good as gold and they don't happen at hotels where everyone's weirdness is sequestered behind a private door.

It was in this deliciously peculiar communal habitat that my girlfriend and I first became acquainted with Canadian Fake Hippy. We were on a hostel sponsored outing to hike through Maui's Haleakala National Park in a group that included the following:

Three German girls out to travel the world before going to university.
One British girl whose father was building Arsenal's new soccer stadium.
One gracefully aloof and impossibly well-proportioned French girl (Aren't they all?).
One traveling, multilingual male historian also from France.
One gullible, blonde Swedish milk-maiden.
One dancing Spaniard and his dancing Slovakian girlfriend. Both hilarious and energetic. Both living in Las Vegas. Both in the employ of Celine Dion.
One frumpity, earth-toned art student from Vancouver who spoke in vapid tones from atop multiple piecemeal soapboxes. I am referring, of course, to Canadian Fake Hippy.

Canadian Fake Hippy, so dubbed by my reluctantly cute girlfriend who likes to come up with three word, oddly arranged phrases for everyday items (ex. "Smelly Good Stuff" for any type of lotion or bodywash), revealed her nationality to us upon first introduction. Her ode to Vancouver was expressed with an unmistakable Canadian accent and was signed with a crinkled nose and thinly veiled look of disgust when I proclaimed myself to be from Texas. The "Fake Hippy" part of her true identity took several days to fully germinate into the realm of the obvious, but first began to sprout soon after our pirate van of foreign travelers started the long, winding ascent to Haleakala's summit.

Canadian Fake Hippy, like any legitimate hippy, guided the group's conversation in directions political, economic, and narcotic. She genralized in all of the right directions -- Socialism= Good; Capitalism= Bad; Bush= The Devil; Drugs= Enlightenment (as long as they are organic) -- and just when you started to tune her out as a throwback hippy, she would say something that rang out like a fart in church because it didn't quite jive with her worldly tumblin' tumble weed image. For example, after generally espousing some non-specific benefits of socialism, she railed on the Canadian system of socialized medicine because she was in the highest tax bracket and had to pay the medical bills of, "all the homeless meth-heads around Vancouver." Hippies aren't even supposed to be in tax brackets, are they?

Just a few mountain switchbacks later, Canadian Fake Hippy was praising the merits of "true capitalism" because, she explained, it requires citizens to give money to social projects like welfare. Adam Smith probably shit himself in heaven when he heard that one and the previously disinterested multilingual French historian cocked his head to the side like my golden retriever does when he's confused by something new. Nothing was safe from Canadian Fake Hippy's ridiculous claims and horribly misinformed generalizations. Nothing. When the dancing couple started to talk about Vikram yoga and how much it helps them in their profession, Canadian Fake Hippy, in an airy and slightly hopeful tone, asked if they got to do drugs during the class, man. As the other trip participants politely stifled laughs, Canadian Fake Hippy backpedaled seeking common ground as she claimed to do Pilates every day. But as everyone knows, hippies don't do Pilates. There's nothing "Hippy" about spandex and crunches. Hippies do naked, sandy yoga like the guy my girlfriend and I saw on Maui's tenuously tolerated Little Beach, downward dogging his happy weathered self as his balls dangled freely for all to see. Canadian Fake Hippy was blossoming before our eyes and the full form of her bloom was riotously entertaining.

Everyone was capable of appreciating Canadian Fake Hippy's buffoonery and her regular moments of unintentional humor provided healthy comic relief for our miniature United Nations. My girlfriend and I were secretly able to disregard our shared fear of being the obnoxious Yankees of the group and fully relax into the camaraderie of our tripmates safe in the knowledge that there was one more odious than we could ever be. I suppose it was due in part to the efforts of Canadian Fake Hippy that we were reluctant to leave the mildewed little hostel for the comforts of an extravagantly posh Kaanapali resort. In truth, we probably would have been reluctant to leave anyway as neither of us is the "resort living" type, but we found it especially difficult as one does not often happen upon such a reliable fount of guaranteed hilarity . . . but, twist my arm, the bosses of my girlfriend's massive computer company were footing the bill.

Imagine our surprise then, when strolling through an outdoor mall next to the extravagantly posh Kaanapali resort, we spotted none other than Canadian Fake Hippy hurriedly darting in and out of the Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany's stores in decidedly less earth-toned duds. All suspicions, were there any remaining, were fully confirmed in this one glorious moment. She was Canadian and she was most assuredly a fake hippy. God bless hostels and the folk they attract.