On the 13th of February, 1692, the Campbell Clan and a regiment of English foot soldiers massacred 36 men, women, and children of the MacDonald Clan of Glencoe, Scotland after first living off their hospitality for 12 days (I have since learned that my great great grandmother on my father’s side was born a MacDonald in Glencoe, the descendant of one Frank MacDonald who survived the massacre). 321 years, 7 months, and 13 days later, a new sort of massacre occurred in the little village of Glencoe. This time there was plenty of whiskey to dull the pain.
No one died that night. Not that I saw anyway. But there were deaths; by the end of the night, intelligence, manhood, common decency, and fun all perished into the night like the last flickering embers of a cabin fire. And when the murderer, a fat, frumpy, near-50 year old New Zealander, finally went to sleep, he did so with the tranquil snore of a man without conscience.
The day started nicely enough. I woke up late, and my travel partner (who I will call Tumbling Bear) made us some egg sandwiches before we departed to hike Etive Mor. 2 hours and 3,600 feet later, we were standing atop the mountain, staring at the heavy fog that blocked out the view below. An overstuffed raven waited for us to continue stuffing him, which we deemed unsafe for flight. We descended, and on the way back to hostel we picked up some whiskey, wine, and matches.
Back at the hostel Tumbling Bear stoked a fire in the common room fireplace while I drank Chilean wine and ate some quality babybel chedder cheese. I fell asleep at one point, and was vaguely aware of a large man who filled the couch beside me. He was speaking with another man in the room, and they were talking about biking, sailing, the America’s Cup, and some other topics, possibly golf too. The one thing I noticed for certain in my half sleep state was how often the large man spoke, without break, rolling from topic to topic before I ever heard the distant voice of the other man in the room.
When I came to, the fire was going, and the large man greeted me.
“Finally awake!” he said.
It was about 4 PM. Little did I know, the large man would outlast even me that night, staying in that one spot on the couch well past 1 AM.
It wasn’t merely his incessant talking that drove me insane. It was that he made the most preposterous claims throughout the evening. And it was that he scared off a number of potentially interesting people who would otherwise have spent more time in the common room had he not been there. And it was that he became obsessed with a young Finnish girl who also spent most of the night in the common room, suggesting multiple times (without ever actually requesting) that she get naked as he lounged in his seat facing her, his ass cheeks spilling over the top of his stretch waistband, his gut falling out of his shirt, grinning under his disheveled gray hair. It was that he was a fraud of a person, claiming to know essentially everything about everything. In major suck up fashion, he jumped to enthusiastic agreement with the decidedly progressive stances of all the other people in the room (two Polish girls and the aforementioned Finnish girl).
The man claimed to have been a horticulturalist for 35 years, giving him ultimate knowledge and authority of all things environmental; he argued that we (humans) shouldn’t burn anything, that we should just have fewer things (the next morning he drove off in a red Fiat).
He claimed to have worked in stone masonry for 35 years, so he “knew” that rocks were “intelligent creatures”. I rolled my eyes and drank my wine.
On the subject of gay marriage, the four progressives in the room spent a few minutes agreeing with each other. Then the fat man said, “The Americans are being unusually quiet.” I shrugged. Tumbling Bear said, “I’m just enjoying my whiskey.”
He had an experience once where 5 whales breached simultaneously for him (not in front of him – FOR him), and he felt a connection to them. He called a friend who had the same experience at the same time somewhere else in the world. This, of course, gave him the authority to argue that a scientific study showed that on some arbitrary intelligence scale, humans were at “6” approaching “7” while whales registered at “11”. I couldn’t help to chime in, pointing out that these were the same whales that are routinely hit and killed by human-driven ships, and that their numbers are dwindling, so it really does depend how you measure intelligence. I’m sure rocks would be a “12” in his view.
He claimed to have worked in lumber for 35 years, so he knew that Conifer trees depleted the soil and destroyed the land, and he thought that trees should not be “raised to be cut”. Tumbling Bear rebuked him viciously, drawing even the eco-friendly Finnish girl to his side.
On multiple occasions he stated that all people should be naked, because the Finnish girl said that nudity in Finland wasn’t as big of a deal as it was elsewhere. He then suggested, only half jokingly, that we all get naked. The Polish girls said there were only certain people that actually wanted to see naked. The fat man looked hurt.
Once the Polish girls were off to bed, he spent the rest of the evening prostrated on his knees, half-moon ass cheeks hanging out and roasting in the firelight, begging to give the Finnish girl a ride to Glasgow in the morning. She found every excuse to deny him. Then, annoyed, she left for bed.
Then things got bizarre.
In the flickering glow of the fire, he looked from Tumbling Bear to me and said with a grin emerging on his face, “Those girls would be real fun in bed. We could go up to their rooms right now. It’s just a question of whether or not we’d be charged.”
We watched him in silent awe. He then launched into a long-winded story about a German girl he was dating who had the dentist “grind her teeth down” so she could perform superior oral sex on him. Again, we sort of watched the man in mild disgust and curiosity. His story later changed; his girlfriend is actually his fiance. Then he asked if Tumbling Bear and I were married, to which we answered no, but I suggested that we should be since I went through the hassle of grinding my teeth down for Tumbling Bear. Tumbling Bear and I laughed, but the man seemed only to be reminded of something. He said suddenly, “Oh I had a friend whose girlfriend had her teeth ground down so she could deep throat him.” Another story change. I began to wonder if maybe the man was a sociopath.
I wished this bizarre, pathetic, fat man would just go away, but he only filled up his glass of whiskey, so I went to bed. The night had been relaxing as I’d hoped, but nonetheless ruined by this idiot. I thought about how much more fun the night could have been had he driven his Fiat off the top of Etive Mor instead of coming to the hostel.
In the morning, he was cooking in the kitchen, looking even larger and more disheveled than he had seemed the night before. I didn’t say a word to him. Tumbling Bear and I watched him drive away, and spent the day thinking of ways we could have got rid of him. We had engaged in some level of mockery throughout the night, but didn’t want to transmit a vibe that was too negative and ruin our own relaxing night.
In retrospect, it might have been best to insult him directly and continuously until he left. But of course, being that this was a hostel and he ended up sleeping in our room, and that he may have been a sociopath, he could have decided to kill us in our beds like the Campbells did to the MacDonalds, and tried to do to my ancestor Frank, three centuries earlier.