It is the beginning of another month and thus time for another installment of the Ohmygod saga (to catch up on the previous installments click on the Ohmygod menu up top). As you will recall, I used to be 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 three 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 (Part Fifty One), after a night out with Adonis, I rode with him all the way to the town of Eeklo, the halfway point of the ride and the only spot to buy the daily “Beer of the Day.” No sooner had found the rest of the group, sat down, and ordered a beer, two of the women he was “courting” the night before showed up at the restaurant. They had been waiting on the outskirts of Bruges to bid Adonis adieu, and were now there once again, 25 kilometers outside of town.
As the others in the group warmed up to the very attractive young French women, I looked around for the waiter to order quickly. I needed my lunch (a formidable salad seemed like the logical choice in an attempt to cleanse the body of the previous night’s toxic intake) and a beer (my “hair of the dog” backup plan in case the salad did not suffice).
I also wanted to avoid any interaction with Adonis and the remnants of his harem—I am pretty sure that my life had reached a new low the night before (I was translating cheesy pick-up lines [usually with some slightly lewd editorial changes] to help Adonis get “lucky” in exchange for a few beers [OK, it was more than “a few” and they were not all that cheap—but that is beside the point]) and I had no desire to relive it.
Felling a bit cowardly, I borrowed a chair from another table and installed myself at the end that was furthest away from Casanova, and for the most part, that worked exceedingly well. A couple of times the trio (either individually or collectively) would glance to my end of the table in search of a translation, but I would quickly pick up my phone, ostensibly to check a text message—the modern universal symbol for “not interested.”
Once, Adonis even raised his near-empty beer glass, shaking it ever so slightly as if to say “Need one of these big fella?” Once again, though, I ignored him—there was plenty of riding to do and I was no longer so desperate—actually, my financial situation had not changed one measly euro, but I did indeed have pride (had the offer been a mere eight hours later, though, I the decision would have been much more difficult).
The other side of what I thought was the most advantageous seating arrangement was the fact that I was now essentially sitting between Brad and Angelina. I found this strange since Angelina takes great care to ensure that she sit as far as possible from her roommate, which, already by this point in the trip it seemed clear was to thwart any potential sexual advances from Brad (and Brad was clearly way out of line: 1. He “met” Angelina on Craigslist whose ad stated she was “seeking a traveling companion and maybe more.” 2. They did a weekend trip together in the States where there was some “serious making out.” 3. He paid for her entire trip to Europe during which she agreed to share a room and a bed. What would have made him think a little action was headed his way?).
Or she could be suffering from multiple personality disorder.
But there they were sitting across from each other and I was at the end of the table as if I were the umpire at a rather deranged tennis match.
I surmised by the positioning of their tandem on the outside of all the other bikes that they had arrived last and Angelina had made the calculation that it would be safer to sit with the group than get a table of their own.
Or she could be suffering from a sadistic personality disorder.
Almost instantly upon sitting down, I noticed that Brad had a peculiar mark on his face which ran from his left nostril down to his lip. It was almost the exact size and shape while being almost perfectly parallel to the philtrum (the vertical groove on the upper lip) but was much darker.
I felt like I was in a strange version of Austin Powers Goldmember as I could not stop staring at this rather amazing facial feature. At first, I was just trying to discern what it actually was, but then it morphed into some sort of hypnotic device and that was all I could see when I even so much as glanced in his direction.
As if she noticed my discomfort, Angelina unleashed a loud, audible sigh with a hint of grunt at the back-end. She then reached into her bike saddlebag which she had detached from the tandem and pulled out a Wet-Nap, which she flung in his direction. Without uttering a sound, he sheepishly took the tissue and scrubbed away his equally useless, but much more distracting, supplementary upper lip to nose groove.
A bystander without any incite to their “relationship” might assume that they had been married for some time and were thus able to “communicate” without needing to speak.
Or that she suffered from Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
After ordering, the waiter delivered my beer in just a few minutes and as he removed the crown cap, in conjunction with the metallic “clink” and a slight sigh of the carbonation being released from the bottle, I heard the unmistakable “hmmph” of Ohmygod over my right shoulder. As I spun to verify that it was indeed my living-breathing-walking (when not falling down) nemesis, conflicting theories instantly befuddled me:
- Either he was stealthily stalking me, waiting to see if and when I would start drinking beer, at which point he would emerge from the shadows, hoping I would buy him a round.
- Or he was a modern-day Genie that lived only in the bottles of beer that I was about to consume, emerging instantly once said bottle was opened.
The moment I saw him standing just a few feet away I was surprised that I had not smelled him first (I guess he was downwind) and opted for the latter of the two options above: he was some perverse Genie that appeared out of thin air. (I decided on this option since the first theory sounded too familiar—I am pretty sure more than one observer saw me in a similar light about 12 hours prior.)
Ohmygod stood there for what seemed like five minutes, without making any effort to sit down, as if he were taking part in a fraternity initiation exercise where he was only allowed to watch people eat and drink while he stood at attention. I was determined to ignore him, however, which I figured would be easier since he remained out of my view, almost immediately behind me.
I am fairly certain that I could have eaten my entire salad (which arrived about two minutes after my beer) without giving him another thought had it not been for his repeated audible tics. Almost perfectly timed with each of my bites (and certainly in unison with each sip of my beer), Ohmygod would emit essentially a whimper, akin to what a family dog might during a meal, sitting by the youngest member of the family, hoping that a scrap of food might make its way to the floor.
After a dozen or so such utterances, I relented and spun around in my seat, and told Ohmygod to grab a chair from another table and join us. I realized that this would ruin what remained of my meal since the only available space at the table was either at the far end near Adonis or right next to me, and I knew he would choose the latter. It seems as though in some odd way that I had garnered some sort of trust with him over the previous two and a half weeks—perhaps he felt that I would essentially take care of him, which was true to a certain extent.
Or, it is entirely possible that he saw me as a sucker and had been furtively taking sips of my beer when I was not looking.
Regardless, as expected, he wedged his chair next to mine and sat down with one more whimper, while staring at my beer. While I had grown accustomed to his unseemly appearance… (He was wearing the same cycling gear for three days in a row, now, which I am pretty certain meant that he had not taken it off for at least 72 consecutive hours. His lengthy, mostly gray hair was glistening with sweat and was matted against his face, compacted under his helmet which was in its normal askew position. And, like his helmet, he refused to remove his gloves, which until now I did not notice that they were not matched but were both an unseemly black-green color—certainly not the original color of either of them.)
… I had not adapted to the smell.
My god, the smell.
His new location, right next to me, exposed me to the full force of his formidable fetor. I immediately realized that my assumption was correct: he had not showered for days (although I could not rule out the possibility that he had not showered for a full week). Although I feared that I might pass out at any moment, there was still one reason to be thankful: I had finished my salad. Had I not, the lettuce would have no doubt instantly wilted, the tomatoes would have spontaneously rotted, and the chicken would have sprung back to life, learned how to fly, and soared off at breakneck speed to get away from that smell.
I scanned my table mates to gauge their reaction to the invasion of the body stencher. Angelina had taken out another Wet-Nap and was using it to pinch her nostrils as if she were about to sneeze or blow her nose. Maggie and Paul immediately got up from the table, left about 20 euros each for their portion of the bill, and practically ran to their bikes. Anita coughed, looked like she was about to throw up, raised her beer to her lips, and took a long gulp. Instead of returning the beer to the table, she kept the glass just under her nostrils, sniffing heavily as if she were part of a formal beer tasting.
Both Adonis and Brad were apparently oblivious, but for different reasons. Adonis, perhaps frustrated with the inability to communicate with the francophone women, was now openly staring at the fairly busty customer at an adjacent table. Brad, though, continued to eat his lunch without so much as a pause, apparently oblivious to the chemical warfare that was being exercised by Ohmygod.
After a few moments, Angelina flicked her head at Brad, indicating that it was time to go. He looked at her, then at his not quite finished lunch, then back at her, this time as if he were an eight-year-old boy who had just lost his puppy. She removed the Wet-Nap from her nose long enough to utter the only word of this mini “conversation”:
She abruptly stood and marched over to the tandem. Brad, in an act of semi-defiance, took two more bites of his sandwich, still oblivious to the intense cloud of funk that had settled over the table. When Angelina, now standing next to the bike, let loose a rather loud, throat-clearing cough, however, he abandoned the rest of his meal, handed me 40 euros from his wallet, and scurried over to Angelina.
I would find out later that Brad has virtually no sense of smell—can’t smell a thing.
Had I known that at the moment, I might have punched him.
Right in the philtrum.