Puke-and-Rally Ken Doll
Mention a drunk Australian and I’ll throw down cash money I can describe the guy you’re thinking of. Really tall, at least 6’3” (or about 192cm for my metric minions). Not fat exactly, but just sort of…round. Muscular, but you wouldn’t blink if the guy fell down and bounced.
His face is flushed, his forehead glistening, with a dark patch of sweat on the front of his “Same Same But Different” tank top. Depending on the time of night, his eyes might be looking in opposite directions. Bonus points if he plays rugby.
He’s either buying a drink at the rooftop bar, or he’s got a water bottle of straight vodka from which he takes massive pulls. He’s probably staying in your hostel right now.
These guys are keeping the heritage of Australia (that is, the kind of people you dump on a desert island to avoid) strong, but even Australia has an excess of them. They all look so similar they may as well come off an assembly line. Puke-and-Rally Barbie and Ken.
And you can tell how drunk they are by how thick their accent gets — if they start to sound like Steve Irwin getting fucked by a crocodile, they’re probably blackout. But they’ll still try to make you take a shot with them.
- “Oy! Take a shot ye cunt!”
The Puppy Litter
You’ll hear the squeaking and yapping before you see them. These girls run in herds of at least four. Often British, usually on some form of gap year or summer holiday. Their backpacks are bigger than they are, because their idea of packing light is an outfit for every day of the week. And like any box full of puppies, they’re just climbing the walls trying to talk to everybody.
The problem is, every guy wants to “talk to” them too. So they sit in a circle, entertaining legions of horny backpackers, completely oblivious to the fact there’s a 3:1 gender ratio against them. Once the drinks start flowing, the girls quit playing coy and it’s back to the hostel for a night of keeping everyone awake with bed squeaks. Usually with Puke-and-Rally Ken.
- “Oh my God, I should NOT drink vodka tonight. I’ll have a vodka tonic, please.”
The Seed Money
When a fast food joint puts out a tip jar, they’ll always put a little money in to start. It makes it look like tipping is the thing to do.
I’m convinced that hostels do the same thing: They’ll hire a guy to hang out at the hostel 24/7 to make it look populated. So this guy never leaves. Coming home from a day trip? He’s taking a nap in the dorm already. Getting ready for a night out? He’s in the rooftop bar reading a book.
That is, until people actually start showing up and ordering beers. That’s when his job as seed money completes, and he heads off to bed at the eye-droopingly late hour of 9:30. He never goes out to do anything and he never joins in the fun.
So what possible reason could he have for traveling except being paid by the hostel? And stay as long as you want: He checked in before you, and he’ll check out after you. “Hotel California” might as well be his theme song: He can never leave.
- “Oh yeah, that sounds really cool. Maybe I’ll come join you guys later.”
Everybody’s got an Uncle Willy. While your dad was off putting a life together, having kids, and becoming a respectable member of society, his brother bought a used VW bus to follow the Grateful Dead. He hangs around in his Acapulco shirts and hits on all your girlfriends with a voice that dips just so into the territory of “if you were to actually say yes then I wouldn’t be joking.”
In the hostel, this guy with the long gray hair and the creepy mustache reminds you way too much of that uncle. He’ll join you for a while — hell, he’ll probably try to buy you a beer — but you see his eyes drifting to the girl next to you the whole time.
He disguises his creepiness with a veneer of “spirituality through a lifetime of experience.” But Uncle Willy has outgrown his wild backpacking days. He just doesn’t know it yet. And maybe the reason you’re so creeped out by him is…he could be you someday.
- “Want me to crack your back? It’ll align your chakras or some shit. Here, watch, bend over.”
The Soul Searcher
This girl just graduated college with a worthless degree — probably English. She’s got no clue what she wants to do in life, and she isn’t qualified for half the shit she does want. So she bought a one-way ticket, hoping travel would clear her mind.
And maybe it does inspire her. Maybe she starts her own jewelry company. Maybe she tries her hand at video editing or photography. Maybe she, oh, I don’t know, starts a travel blog as if there’s money there.
Whatever she does, she’ll tell you about it within the first few minutes of meeting you, and then every two minutes after that. Attention is a drug for this one better than any mushroom shake or happy pizza, and she’ll scratch her arm and beg for it until you give in and tell her you’ll visit her blog or check out some of her jewelry.
Because those few seconds of admiration (“Wow, so you just travel and make art? I wish I could do that!”) keep the fear of not accomplishing anything at bay.
- “Maybe this subtle self-deprecation will be cathartic enough to help me figure out what I’m doing here.”
The Artificial Intelligence
It’s something out of SciFi. These people don’t live in our plane of existence — they’re one with the machine. Oh, you can see them, and they can project themselves into a social situation with a phone or camera, but it’s always half attentive and filtered through a preview screen. It’s the only way they can see.
They’ll carry on a conversation for only as long as it takes to get your Facebook information, and then they’ll disappear back into the bush like a journalist on safari, never to appear again. And yet, for the rest of your life, they will pop up on social media, liking your pictures and commenting on your status with a familiarity so far beyond their initial impression that you’ll wonder if they were ever a real person at all.
The rest of the cast of characters filtering through the hostel will bond and make friends, but the AI only documents it for posterity. And when they get home, they won’t even realize they aren’t in a single picture.
- “Nice to meet you man! Add me on Facebook!”
The Mossy Stone
You look at the Seed Money and the Artificial Intelligence and feel a little bad for them. They’re just letting so much slip past them, and it doesn’t even seem like they realize it. But then you look at the Mossy Stone. And holy shit, he makes “letting it slip by” look cool.
You see him sitting there with his crazy dreads and his elephant pants, sipping a beer and watching events unfold, and you realize this guy doesn’t know how to be unhappy. Maybe he’s just burned out on drugs, who knows? But he knows he’s floating through life, and he likes it that way.
He’s everything the Soul Searcher is trying to emulate, and he’s got the facial hair to match. His birth was the result of Jeff Bridges’ The Dude having a one-night stand with The Fonz. They say a rolling stone gathers no moss — this guy lets the moss build up and smokes it.
- “I’ve overstayed my visa by a year, but I’ll figure it out eventually.”