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Hollandais (Wednesday, 2011 July 13)

July 14th, 2011

I’m in an Airbus 330 watching a movie on the flight to Brussels, which turned out not to be direct but instead a two-parter from Douala to Accra (Ghana), then to Brussels. I had no idea people flew to Ghana from Douala, but lots of people got off, to the point that the flight’s not full right now, so I guess there’s a demand (or maybe they were making a connecting flight?). The movie probably has a name, it’s some "boy is going through middle school and his life sucks" thing, but the subtitles are in Dutch, thus the title of this blog entry. Begrepen?

Boris helped me get to the airport, after he got cockblocked by his girlfriend’s friend. He’s trying so hard and you can just tell he’s not gonna get laid — not that he smells of desperation, but there’s definitely an odor there and neither of his girlfriends are too dense to notice it. It sure was a surprise to hear him talking for hours about how he wanted to knock boots with this chick, only to finally meet her and realize that she’s probably in 3e. (His last girlfriend, who he dumped yesterday because she wasn’t putting out, was at least in 1ere.) Meanwhile he’s trying to set me up with all kinds of women — I made the mistake of commenting on the attractiveness of one yesterday and he keeps calling me "trembleur", when what he doesn’t understand and what I can’t make him understand is that I’m not afraid, not at all, but (like the man says) "There’s nothing in my heart", and that silence makes it difficult to motivate myself to go through all the hassles and negotiations that it requires pour qu’on s’entende, that one understand each other. It’d be bad enough in English, but I have even less desire to do it in French. Thus why I was outside Boris’s room teaching his family how to play Street Fighter a little bit better. Goal 2, I guess?

The airport was a fascinating trip. I spent a lot of time checking out people, looking for the ones that were "one of us", which apparently turns out to mean "science fiction fan-looking types", beards, glasses, white hair, and a pocket full of pens. Stereotyped everyone else, of course — he looks like a former Organization Volunteer; she’s on business; he came to visit a friend; she looks like she’s Gone Native; etc. I can’t wait until I get to a place where people start looking distinct again — like people and not merely extras. Found myself slipping into Special English (i.e. Anglophone accent) when addressing some European dude. I doubt I could have done anything to make him understand me. There was a certain amount of Cameroonian shenanigans around the airport — people outside weighing suitcases, selling bags so you can get under baggage limits, wrapping things in plastic — but inside it was fairly calm, and when I refused things like luggage carts, I got "You don’t have to pay for it!" from insulted-sounding Cameroonian stewards.

I can’t sleep on the plane, even though I’ve had two glasses of wine (which, BTW, come in these adorable little plastic bottles), but I’m a little bit more awake now that I’ve eaten a bit of dinner (took my chances on the salad and the bread; decided to skip the fish in white sauce and the "brioche cheese"). I was really looking forward to this flight, ’cause somehow I got it into my head that I was going to have this huge block of unbroken free time and I was going to be super productive, but that free time is supposed to be sleeping time and I’m not, so I’m probably pretty much fucked. On the up side, neither the ear infection that I may or may not have has been giving me any problems, nor does the giant sucking foot wound seem terribly infected. (Take your doxy, kids. It’s a wonder drug.) I have mosquito bites all the fuck over, most annoyingly on my knee, and I itch so much. But I made it out alive and that’s worth a hell of a lot.

The flight ladies on this red-eye are surly-looking, not sure if that goes with the flight time. I think I’m sitting next to a Cameroonian Notable — he doesn’t speak English hardly at all and he’s got that air of "The world will arrange itself for my benefit". There’s a pair of cute French chicks sleeping in the row behind me. Whereas I haven’t shaved in three days and I think I might look like a lumberjack.

I had this fascinating moment where I realized that at the airport, Boris was lost in a world he didn’t really get; where suddenly the norms made automatic sense to me, and I could swim instead of staggering around on fins. Thought to myself: "I’m an Organization Volunteer, motherfucker, and I don’t give a shit about the rules."

Boris saw me off at the gate. I waited until he was gone, and then I carefully set down my backpack, reached inside. Took the Cameroonian wallet, with my Cameroonian identity, from my pocket — switched it with my American self from the bag. Is that really all it takes?


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