Hugo The Bored
By. Kondor Haze
When Hugo was a young boy his family ran into Kevin Bacon at a restaurant in downtown Toronto while he was in town filming. Bacon wasn’t any great acting virtuoso, but for some reason Hugo always remembered that chance meeting, and the words the actor had uttered to the young boy had stuck in his mind, “I always wanted, and still aspire, to be something more than just one thing.”
Hugo felt like he was just one thing: an ordinary, middle-class, suburban, white kid. What was interesting about that? There was a whole army of those across the country.
Kevin Bacon once said, “Invisibility would be sort of a fun power to have just to see what it was like to move through the world and not be looked at.”
Hugo didn’t need any special mutant powers to feel that way.
His biggest fear in the entire universe was to lead a boring life. Up to this point in his 21 years he had been on autopilot. He went through the motions and did what was expected of him. But there was a revolution brewing inside of him.
Yesterday afternoon, on more than a whim, he decided to abandon his mundane little suburban life inAurora,Ontarioand found himself at Pearson International. In the most cliché way possible he decided to buy a plane ticket for the first available flight out of the country. He didn’t care where, he just needed to get out.
Hugo wanted life. He wanted the real thing.
Kevin Bacon also once said, “I have a natural swagger.” And that’s exactly how Hugo felt now as he meandered along the edge of Barceloneta beach after arriving in the mist of sun-rise that sat on top of the Cataluna capital of beautiful España. It’s amazing how the fresh air of a foreign country and the tickle of theMediterranean on one’s feet can help a person’s perspective on life take a complete 180.
Hugo’s flight had arrived in Barcelona at 5 a.m. local time, but his body told him it was now almost midnight. When he walked out of the airport earlier he jumped into the first cab he could find and asked the driver if he knew any good hostel’s near the beach. Nodding, the cabbie replied in broken English.
“Si, si señor. I take you toNew York. HostelNew Yorkis muy bueno.”
“Valle. Okay. Venga. Let’s go,” Hugo replied, surprising himself and realizing that he had actually learned something in high school Spanish.
The taxi had to drop Hugo near the post office a few blocks from the hostel since the car couldn’t fit down the streets of the city’s old Gothic Quarter. Hugo tipped the driver 2 euros from the cash he had converted at the airport and found his way to the quaint hostel. He booked a room but it wouldn’t be ready until noon that day so he left his bag in a locker and went out to explore the foreign landscape.
Sitting on the golden sands of the beach Hugo finished nibbling a freshly baked baguette he had bought after leaving Hostel New York. Aside from a few sailboats trolling along the coast and a handful of topless elderly women sunbathing the beach was fairly quiet that morning. These women felt no shame and made no attempt to hide the lines of their wrinkled, browned skin.
For the first time in his life Hugo knew what it meant to be jet-lagged. He found a cozy nook on the beach, laid back and drifted into dreams as seagulls hollered at each other and played on the waves that rolled in towards him like a metronome.
A couple hours later Hugo finally awoke to a middle-aged Vietnamese woman circling around the beach offering her services.
“Massage! Massaje!” she yelled continuously as she wandered around.
Noticing that Hugo had just awoken the woman directed her attention towards him and repeated, “Massage? Massaje? Only 10 euro.”
“No thanks,” he replied while shaking his head.
After rubbing the sand out of his eyes Hugo looked around and realized that the whole landscape had changed. “Holy shit!,” he thought to himself. The topless grandma’s still lined the beach, but an entire army’s worth of fresh, fit, firm breasts had joined them and were out on display for the world to see.
Hugo was definitely not in Kansas anymore.
The glaring Spanish sun was now perched high in the sky and Hugo decided it was time to indulge in the cool embrace of the Mediterranean water. Not to mention he needed something to keep himself from staring stare at the scourges of beautiful women sprawled across the beach. He stripped down to his boxers, left his shirt, shorts and shoes in a pile on the sand and skipped down to the water as excited as a kid on Halloween.
After Hugo had had enough of pretending to be a sea lion in the waves he waded his way back to the shore and reclaimed his spot on the shore. The Asian masseuses were now joined on the beach by a about half a dozen men carrying around bulging grocery bags that dripped with ice-cold water.
“Agua! Cerveza! Coca-Cola!” they yelled, “Water! Beer! Coke!”
A few of them whispered, “Cocaine? Marijuana?” and winked at Hugo as they wandered by.
Hugo waved one of the men over and purchased an ice cold can of San Miguel cerveza. He popped the tab, it fizzled with delight and he gulped down at least a quarter of it’s contents in one fluid motion.
Trying to distract himself once again from all the beautiful bodies around him Hugo began eavesdropping on a few of the beach goers around him. He caught snippets of conversations from all sides.
“Any idiot can get laid when they’re famous. That’s easy. It’s getting laid when you’re not famous that takes some talent,” a nearby Australian argued with his friends.
“Having to be a ‘nice guy’ is the toughest job in the world when you’re not,” explained a German girl to her Spanish amigo.
“Keep your fights clean and your sex dirty,” exclaimed an American showing off to a group of bikini clad women.
There was something about people watching and innocent eavesdropping that intrigued Hugo. It made him feel like he was a part of something. He loved picking up snippets of conversations and filling in the blanks of the glamorous lives he imagined all strangers – everyone but him – lived.
After he had enough of listening, Hugo stood up, brushed the sand off his sticky body and put his clothes back on. He left Barceloneta and wandered back towards Porto Vell where all the sailboats docked when they returned from their adventures on the sea.
On his way back he noticed an old man, about 60, walking slowly in the same direction as him about 100 metres ahead. It seemed like everyone around him stood around and stared at him absolutely flabbergast, but he paid no attention to them and continued upon his path. Hugo was curious what all the fuss was about but he couldn’t figure out what was so intriguing about the man. He was a little overweight, had furrowed golden skin, and was shirtless wearing only a tight-fitting pair of green shorts, but there seemed nothing that unusual about him.
But without fail every person who passed the old man had a look of shock or stopped dead in their tracks as the man passed. Hugo even noticed two Guardia Civil police office lock stares onto the man and then burst out in hysterical laughter. The man’s pace was slow and calculated and soon Hugo easily caught up to him.
It was only when Hugo was about 10 metres away that he realized his own mistake. The old man wasn’t wearing any green shorts. In fact the old man wasn’t wearing any clothes at all. The green shorts were just a tattoo that covered his entire buttocks from waist to half-way down his thighs.
“Yep. Definitely not inKansasanymore,” Hugo chuckled to himself.
By this point Hugo had found himself at the base of the main tourist strip inBarcelona. Las Ramblas. Hugo stared up in awe at the towering statue of Christopher Columbus, Colonas the Spanish said, that stood guard, pointing out to sea, at the base of Las Ramblas before he ventured further into the busy hustle of the tourist trap.
Street performers crowded the streets. Merchants tried to pawn off postcards, books, cheap trinkets, paintings and food to the hordes of foreign travellers. There were even little stalls where you could buy birds, gerbils, rabbits and other pets.
Noticing the time on a nearby clock-tower Hugo decided he had had enough fanfare for his first morning and decided to head back to Hostel New York to see if his room had been prepared. It should have only taken him 10 minutes from where he was, but the maze of tiny cobblestone streets in Gothic Barcelona extended his trip.
When he finally reached his destination he pressed the buzzer at the door and after a silent moment that dragged on just a bit too long the welcoming sound of a click indicated that Hugo was permitted entry.
He had only been in the country a few hours but something inside Hugo felt different. Maybe he was still that ordinary suburban white kid fromCanada, but he felt like he was a part of something a little bigger now. Being among the people, walking the streets of this history-rich country had bred a new vitality in the boy.
Hugo approached the desk. A man with a bright smile who smelled of musk greeted Hugo with a friendly, “Qué tal?”
“Muy bien,” responded Hugo.
“Very good, sir. Well your room has been cleaned and is ready for you.”
“Excellent. Now you just have to pay your deposit and I will get you your keys. You’ll be staying with us here for two nights you said?”
“Actually… let’s make it a week or two Jorge. I think I’m going to like it here.”