It is the end of another month and thus time for another installment of the Ohmygod saga (the previous installments: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, and Part Five ‘B’, Part Six, or you can check them out in the menu up top). As you will recall, I was a cycling tour guide in Europe for several years. Through that job (yes, it is a bit difficult to call it a ‘job’) I met countless interesting people and have a few compelling stories to tell, but most of them pale to the story of Ohmygod, one of the clients that I had for two weeks. Some may wonder about the moniker, but the name chose itself really; it is what I uttered repeatedly during just about every interaction with him.
In the previous installment, we had made it to our next destination, Chenonceaux, and to one of my favorite hotels and restaurants. When Ohmygod came down for dinner, I required that he go back upstairs and shower–perhaps for the first time all week–and he had just returned and sat down for a pre-dinner drink.
Ohmygod sat down with us to have a beer before dinner. I cringed, but there was really nothing I could do–I still had half a Kir (I had moved on to peach Kirs–using a peach liqueur instead of crème de cassis in a traditional Kir) and we were all having dinner at the hotel restaurant (one of my absolute favorite restaurants in all of France), which was exactly 5 meters away from where we were sitting (look at me switch into the metric system with ease!). As with just about everything else with Ohmygod, ordering the beer became an ordeal. As is the case in most small hotels in France, Sophie, the owner, was doing double duty as the bartender/waitstaff for us out on the terrace. At first, I tried to convince Ohmygod to order a Kir–I gave him a little history of the drink, and informed him that there were many flavor options–I even suggested that he try mine. (What the hell was I thinking? He would either down the rest of my drink in one gulp or slosh some into his mouth and somehow manage to impart a vicious cocktail of morning croissant backwash and gingivitis).
Luckily, he declined.
Actually, he just grunted a bit and had a look on his face as if to say “I’d rather move out of my mother’s house than try your Kir.”
Or maybe he just had gas.
He looked over at Mr. Personality who was casually sipping on a beer, and Ohmygod became transfixed. Mr. Personality became instantly aware of Ohmygod’s lecherous gaze, since his knuckles quickly grew white around the bottle, making it clear that he was neither going to offer Ohmygod a sample of his beverage, nor was he going to leave it unattended within the reach of the ‘beer hunter’. Seeing that yet another attempt to impart a tiny bit of culture into Ohmygod’s life was all for naught, I listed for him the beers that were available (there were only three). Once Sophie reluctantly skulked over to take his order (there is no doubt that she had been avoiding coming over since Ohmygod had joined us) Ohmygod, who never met a decision he liked, made Sophie repeat the beers that were available.
They had three beers: Kronenbourg, Heineken, and Hoegaarden.
Finally, he made his choice, and Sophie shuffled off—more to get away quickly than to promptly fulfill the order. She returned moments later as Ohmygod was devouring the small bowl of peanuts that was on the table—he was rapidly alternating hands, picking up one peanut at a time and stuffing it in his cavernous mouth, finishing off the several dozen nuts in about 37 seconds. Sophie stood there for a moment, dumfounded, watching the spectacle, until she realized that she was staring, her mouth half agape. She placed the beer on the table and walked off doing the ‘Ohmygod shake’ (the slight shake of the head that one does when in total disbelief).
For the next five minutes, the four of us just sat there. Grumpy, Mr. Personality and I had fallen into a bit of a routine–we would talk about Ohmygod every moment we were together without him. When Ohmygod would show up, we would avoid all eye contact, else we tumble into a adolescent contest of ‘try not to snigger’. Finally, out of a combination of boredom and curiosity, I asked Ohmygod how his ride was that day.
I learned a valuable lesson that day.
Never ask Ohmygod about his ride.
He commenced on an endless diatribe, touching on nearly every aspect of the day. First, he criticized the directions to get him from Blois to Chenonceaux. As guides, we provide a brief overview of the ride and many points of interest along the way, followed by a more or less detailed point-to-point description of the ride. His angst was not centered on the lack of directional precision (which would have been a valid point since I wrote them and I have a horrible sense of direction), but rather for the emphasis placed on a few historical anecdotes of the region and “all the chateaus [sic] and stuff”. When I informed him that most people come on the trip for precisely those reasons, he paused briefly to throw me a glance of incredulity. It was at that moment that I thought that I should ask him why he was on the trip if he possessed virtually no interest in the history or architecture of the region, but I feared where that might go and worried that his reasoning would haunt me for days—wondering what I had done to possibly deserve this overly severe dose of bad karma.
Besides, he had already moved on to several other criticisms:
- The bike. It seems that the bike provided for him by the company was “defective” since “it” kept crashing. I quickly glanced toward the garage in hopes of seeing the degree of disrepair of the company’s bike. I know I should have inquired about his own health after the day-long series of face plants, but I was actually feeling bad for the bike—having subjected it to Ohmygod. The poor thing. It turns out that virtually all of the crashes occurred either when he was stopping or just getting started. Clearly, Ohmygod should not be using clip less pedals. Or anything remotely mechanical, for that matter.
- Lunch spots. I have always claimed that you really have to try hard to eat poorly in France—you really have to go out of your way to find awful food. It turns out that is exactly what he wanted. He was looking for a McDonald’s which are rather scarce along the routes we take. I was tempted to point out that many Canadians are resentful of American Imperialism that is most often represented by either McDonald’s or Coke-a-Cola. Instead, I downed the rest of my Kir and ordered another.
- The bike (again). It seems that in addition to the starting/stopping issues, he was also having some difficulty steering the bike. He crashed into a ditch when the bike “swerved suddenly all on its own.”. At this point Grumpy decided to jump in and ask for some clarification. After some intense cross-examination, it turns out that Ohmygod is deathly afraid of bees. Just before he went ass over teakettle into the ditch, he thought he saw a swarm of bees coming his way (it turned out being sweat that had dripped from his matted hair on to his sunglasses).
- The French. It was not entirely clear how many interactions he had with the “natives” but he was clearly growing restless. The problem? Few of the French that he had encountered spoke English (I quipped that even fewer spoke Canadian, but he just gave me a puzzled look and continued). He seemed to think that speaking English should be a requirement of anybody who lived in France.
Mid-sentence of his next complaint (that the sun was much brighter in France), he realized that he had not had a slurp of his beer in quite some time so he paused and downed the remaining two thirds of the bottle as if he had just lost a game of beer pong in a fraternity basement (all that was missing were the chants of ‘Chug! Chug! Chug!’—I was tempted, but he certainly would not get the reference and our quartet was already high enough on the spectacle scale).
I hesitated to move to the dining room since, well (if it isn’t obvious by now, you really have not ben paying attention), but I was not even three days into the trip and even though I certainly considered it, I would not survive on a diet of peach Kirs and peanuts. Thus, I informed the other three that we were moving to the dining room for dinner. I lead the trio off the terrace and I looked for Sophie to have her show us to our table. She was standing at the front desk, looking back at the terrace table we had just vacated, with a look of shock, her mouth dangling open.
I turned to look.
Ohmygod had the empty peanut bowl to his mouth and appeared to be licking it clean.
I looked back to Sophie, and as if choreographed, we both dropped our heads, covered our eyes with a hand, and did the “Ohmygod head shake”.
In a formal dining room.