Meet the Dastardly Denizen of Hostels
I know what you are probably thinking, but I am not the miscreant in question. While I like to flirt with the personal ideology of super-villainy, I cannot deny that, in general, I am maddeningly good, honest and law-abiding. No, this story is not about me – this is the story of a true super-villain, one who stalks the hostels of Copenhagen.
Before we enter the heart of the story, I must say a few words about the psychological setting. Hostels are a bizarre environment. You can tell people whatever you want about yourself – whether your tales are true or not, usually your roommates will believe you. But the naive hosteller’s suspension of disbelief will only carry so far. Claiming you are a racecar driver probably isn’t going to win you much applause from your roommates. One hosteller in Paris related a story about a lunatic he met in Copenhagen, coincidentally, who claimed to have had sex with Kate Moss in a bathroom at a party.
On with the story. The assumed name of this agent of evil, our dastardly denizen of the hostels, is Mischievous Maurhone. I’d put him in his early forties, but he carries himself with the characteristic carefree, fun-loving attitude that all hostellers know and love. And since age means nothing in a hostel, he finds himself able to blend in, to usurp the positive force of hostelling and drag its participants into his vortex of madness.
Mischievous Maurhone makes his first attack with his wallet. Knowing that his roommates have likely been subsisting on loaves of bread and extra sandwiches smuggled away from the complimentary breakfast buffet, he throws down his fat stack of cash and offers to treat his new friends to dinner. The unsuspecting innocents accept his offer and join his madcap ride through the night, never stopping to wonder why someone who is clearly loaded is staying in a hostel.
On this particular night, John, a bartender from Toronto, and Brett, a student from Sydney, agree to go to a jazz club with Maurhone. Despite their warning that Copenhagen evenings start after eleven o’clock, Maurhone drags them off around eight o’clock. To no one’s surprise, the jazz club is not yet open. So Maurhone diverts the party to a restaurant.
It’s at this point that Mischievous Maurhone begins to reveal his sinister super-powers. He has already demonstrated an ability to speak flawless Spanish and English. Now he speaks to the waitress in Danish. He orders caviar, oysters, and other items that the restaurant does not have. His stereotypical “obnoxious American” attitude is brusk and unapologetic. Maurhone eventually orders a huge quantity of food, and consumes the entire feast by himself. An hour passes at the dinner table before Maurhone tells John and Brett that he actually doesn’t have any money – they are going to have to run out on the bill. He is preparing to make his escape when Brett tells him that he simply isn’t going to let him go. So Maurhone produces his wallet and pays.
The three return to the jazz club, which is at last open and swinging. John and Brett relax and enjoy the music. Mischievous Maurhone, on the other hand, spends his time taking snapshots of a girl who is clearly on a date with her boyfriend and saying absurdly asinine things like, “You want to come home with me, don’t you? Not him, me…” He somehow avoids being pounded by the guy, perhaps because his behavior is so insane that no one can take him seriously.
Eventually the jazz winds down, and the group decides to carry on to a bar. They go outside and hail a cab. The driver is Palestinian. Believe it or not, Maurhone accuses the driver of involvement with the World Trade Center attacks. The driver incredulously ignores Maurhone, but he is so persistent in his harangue that the driver grows visibly flustered and calls a friend on his cell phone.
Again Maurhone unleashes his dark powers of communication. He eavesdrops on the phone conversation, and then talks to the driver in Arabic. The driver is practically having a nervous breakdown at this point, and cries out, “I am just a taxi driver! I am not going to kill you!” He then goes on saying that people have no idea what it is like to be a Palestinian with America helping to kill your people every day. John and Brett are squirming with discomfort as they bail from the cab – straight into a bar full of Palestinians. Maurhone had chosen the bar, apparently for this very reason.
Maurhone approaches three guys sitting at the bar and says, “Busted! Busted! Busted!” pointing his finger at each of them for emphasis. They stand up, agitated, as he turns his back to sit down. The largest of the offended men gestures for Brett to go out back for some bare-knuckle boxing. John realizes that it is time to leave and tells Maurhone they are going. The large guy continues to point towards the back door and speaks in Danish. John says that he doesn’t speak Danish but that his friend does, diverting the angry giant’s attention to Maurhone. As soon as the heat is off, John and Brett bolt out the front door, jump into a nearby cab, and speed away.
Mischievous Maurhone never returned to the hostel that night. Later in the day, once the hostel had re-opened after its cleaning period, we noticed that Maurhone was crashed out in one of the bunks. He slept for over twenty hours, arising the next morning after John and Brett had left for the airport. His manner was calm, even rational. He didn’t realize anyone else knew the story.
But there’s more. The finale. It seems at one point in the evening, Maurhone told Brett that he had once had sex with Kate Moss at a party. That’s right. It was the same guy.
Check out Ken’s book, The Wanderlust Survival Guide.