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It’s a new semester and that means a whole new batch of irritating classmates. I should have known when I sat down next to the gentleman in the blouse, that there would be conflict, but my guard was down. I thought I’d met all of the freaks in my graduate program– I was complacent. I was a fool.

Going around the room, introducing ourselves, I found a lot of reasons to hate my colleagues. Mostly, it’s because they are annoying human beings who talk too much about nothing. Sometimes it’s because their mere appearance walks the line between fusty and unkempt in a way that I find visually appalling. Sometimes, in the case of the gentleman in the very contrived blouse/cords set with the artfully tousled curly locks– it’s because of the smug hippieness.

He introduced himself in a loud, clear voice. At first, that surprised me because to look at him, I would not have expected that kind of sound. Then he said “BA in Theatre” and I recoiled. This man was projecting, and I didn’t even realize it. I am slipping, slipping, slipping. He proceeded to tell a tale that involved teaching theatre and getting his position cut. It’s like he climbed into my head at that point and saw that I was thinking he must have been fired by someone else who found him irritating, because he said five other teachers were cut as well. After that, he got an English degree and taught at a boarding school until he realized that he wasn’t making any money.

Now he lives in his parents basement and plans to finish this 42-credit graduate program in 1 year. “I just read and research all night. I’m just down in my parent’s basement researching, and researching. If my friends didn’t come over and pull me out every now and then, I’d be researching all the time.”

Let’s pause and take a look at those sentences, because to me, that screams “I’m always on the internet, and I call it research because I’m reading sites that may or may not have any actual validity, but make me feel smart.”

Then we got to the interests portion of the introduction. Of course, he’s interested in research, but apparently, never leaving the house to do it (print sources are still viable, guy), he also plays the didgeridoo (naturally), which he had to explain to us “is a hollow tubular instrument originating in Australia. It sounds like an Alpine horn, and is very difficult to play.”

Ok, the didgeridoo does not need that much explanation. I think it’s safe to assume that most people know what it is. For me, it brings up a particularly hilarious memory.

I was at a 5-day folk festival where the idea is: sleep in a tent, get up, eat a vegan hot dog, buy some handmade goods, and listen to music. One of the handmade goods that was available was a didgeridoo. I don’t know if these were as authentic as the one I’m sure the guy in my class plays. I never went into the “buy a didgeridoo” booth, so I don’t know if the people crafting them were even Australian, and this folk festival was in Canada– so I doubt it.

There was also, in the camping spot next to ours (they weren’t camping sites, per se, it was very much “here in the field man, create a shelter”) These were yuppie hippies, specifically a yuppie hippie couple who you know go around saying “We do this, and We don’t do that, and We have a farm share, and We don’t drink bottled water ever!” They were a breed that I had not previously encountered, but read about in magazines. What this means is: they were constantly clad in all-natural fabrics, but the clothes never appeared dirty and always fit them well, they had a rather ornate and spacious tent that was clearly vintage, but in really good shape, they bounced out of bed so early in the morning that we never really saw them, and must have either used the shower truck, or (this is my theory), went back home every day to bathe and put on fresh clothes that hadn’t been shoved into a dirty backpack for three days.

I found these people amusing, and wondered why they were never just back at the tent, hanging out and drinking beer/getting high like everyone else. The female counterpart of this duo reminded me of an elementary school hall monitor. She was friendly in a way that you know she was to EVERYONE, but didn’t have time to be actual friends because of her hyper-scheduling.

On the second-to-last day of the festival, when the rest of us were so filthy and sunburned that we were barely aware of anything else– the male counterpart had a birthday. Somehow, we were just rolling out of bed, after the two of them had already had a full morning, and we managed to catch them back at their tent, which I swear they hadn’t set foot near in at least two days. The girl was bouncing around, all full of the energy that only a vegan diet provides you, and she called out “ok, come and see!”

My camping partner and I peeked discretely through the mesh window of our tent to see this guy emerge, and clap eyes on a large, painted hunk of wood with a bow on it. “It’s a didgeridoo– for you!” she told him gleefully. His face at that moment, as he took in this awkward hunk of wood that he would have to carry back to the car, and probably never learn to play, was the very epitome of “nonplussed”. In the spirit of yuppie hippie love, though, he shook off those feelings and clamped his lips on the didgeridoo producing what sounded like a very wet “hand-fart”.

That’s what I think of when I hear the word didgeridoo.

The artfully tousled blouse-wearer followed up his explanation of what a didgeridoo is with another interest: Tuvan throat singing. Of course. He explained what it is, a brief history, and how he found two local masters (really? two masters, right here?) who are willing to teach him when he’s willing to stop researching and leave his parent’s basement.

Naturally, someone asked him to give us a demonstration. He said, “I don’t think that would be appropriate since I haven’t been trained at it well enough, and I don’t like to misappropriate others’ cultures. That’s really important to me.” Drat! Now he and I can never be pals because one of my hobbies is misappropriating others’ cultures. I do it as much as I can, and will never be satisfied.

I just wonder if I can avoid this guy enough to not say something completely inappropriate, like the above statement, to him. Whenever I encounter people like this, my inner asshole comes out, and I just can’t help myself. I wind up saying something, either obnoxious, or ridiculous, or something that never puts them in their place, but makes them shake their heads at me like “oh poor you, you have a lot to learn.”

April 2019
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