I’m boycotting google this week for no good reason, which means I’m boycotting youtube and basically the entire rest of the internet, so no Satyricon today. Instead, let me tell you about a thing that happened one time:
One time, I walked across Spain.
This is a thing that a lot of people do. There is a trail across Spain called the Camino de Santiago. Actually it is several trails and they run through all of Europe and not just Spain, and much of the trail is taken up by either tourist traps or long stretches of highway that you have to walk on the shoulders of. But for the sake of simplicity, let’s say there’s this trail across Spain, and one winter I walked on it.
Before I spent my months in Europe, I didn’t really think about having an American accent. I knew abstractly that American accents existed, but in my head they were generally just classified as “anything that wasn’t a British accent.” After several months spent forcibly deprived of American English – and oftentimes, English altogether – I began to understand what I was missing. It was like having spent my entire youth in a closet full of my own farts, and then being cast unceremoniously out into a field of wildflowers in the midst of spring. I missed my own farts.
Which is why, after two weeks on the Camino, my ears perked up at news of a fellow Californian on the trail. His name was Dante. People told me he was a religious fanatic, that he argued with inkeepers and made his living by sharpening knives. But, more importantly, he was from California. He spoke with not only an American accent, but a Californian accent. I had to meet him.
Every time I stopped for the night, I asked the innkeepers if they’d seen Dante. They all had, and they were all a bit worried about the fact that I was looking for him. And worse, Dante always seemed to be two days ahead of me. In my desperation for a familiar accent, I embarked on a two-day force march up mountains and through driving rain in an attempt to close the gap.
It was the second day of my death-slog, and I was halfway to where I wanted to be by the end of the day. The rain was so merciless it felt like God had his divine firehose of a dick aimed directly at me. I passed a dry-looking little hostel nestled in the hills and said,
The hostel was not only dry, but warm as well, and all my friends from the trail so far were there. Still, though, it sucked that I was never going to meet Dante.
I was in the sleeping quarters, catching up with a German friend of mine. He had just told me about how he’d had his dick grabbed while sick with stomach flu on the streets of Leon, and I was explaining to him my dilemma with Dante. My story was interrupted by the innkeeper showing a new guest into the room. The innkeeper spoke English with just the slightest trace of a Spanish accent, and I heard him say,
“You’re probably used to better than this, being from California.”
I trailed off mid-sentence and sat up. In walked a dangerously thin, impossibly tall man with very small, very round, very blue eyes, his jaw squared off by six inches of dense grey beard. He looked at me.
“Dante?” I said.
“Yes?” He replied.
“I’ve been looking for you.” I said.
He smiled beatifically and cast his eyes towards the ceiling.
“God knows.” He said.
That was by no means the end of my dealings with Dante, but I don’t want to bore you, so I’ll leave the rest of the story for another time.
To be continued…