Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kevin of the Yukon.

Kevin, a virtual stranger that I was hosting from a website called, was sitting on the couch across from me with his arms wrapped around his knees. He wore a black tuque and a red and white polka dot shirt with buttons but no sleeves. I thought it made him look incredibly effeminate for some reason. He was the first "couchsurfer" that I had decided to host. My girlfriend and I sat on another couch; I had my arm casually around her shoulder. The conversation with Kevin was not going well - I was not convinced that I would be using the website again.

“You can’t really think they were capable of doing that themselves," Kevin said with a dismissive hand gesture.

“Actually, I don’t only think they were capable of building the pyramids, but I know that the Egyptians built the pyramids. It’s an established fact,” I said, incredulous. "It's been proven."

“But the pyramids are too complicated for human design," Kevin continued. "Human architects can’t create something as complex as that, and imagine the tools the Egyptians had!”

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. “So you’re saying that aliens came to Earth 150 million years ago and built the pyramids themselves…as a gift to the Egyptians.”

“Yes. Exactly,” he said.

I looked over at Rachel. When we locked eyes, it struck me that we were thinking the same thing. This guy is bat-shit insane.

"Well, I'm sorry," I said, "But I'm never going to believe your argument and I'm not convinced. Also, I'm not calling you a racist or anything, but I don't really like it when people completely underestimate a sophisticated people like the Egyptians and their ability to build tall buildings."

"No! No! I'm not calling them stupid or anything," Kevin said, waving wildly with his hands.

"I hope not," I replied.

I felt Rachel's hand squeeze my side. I glanced at her and decided to drop the issue.

"It's just that it makes more sense that extra-terrestrials did it," he said, smiling hopefully.

Biting my lip and trying hard not to roll my eyes, I changed the subject. I asked Kevin to tell us his life story. He told us about how he was born and raised in the Yukon Territory. He experienced an epiphany of sorts as a teenager and subsequently decided to become a raw vegan. He traveled the continent in search of the meaning of life. He joined a survival cult in Phoenix, Arizona but was kicked out - he wouldn't elaborate on why. He then joined another survival cult in the mountains of British Columbia but was kicked out of that one too. He was 25 years old and his reason for needing a couch to crash on was that he had just moved and was looking for an apartment of his own.

The more he spoke about his background, the more tense I felt. At some point - I think it was right around when he was talking about having just moved to Montreal to make it big - Rachel got off the couch and left. I couldn't blame her. Kevin was a talking machine .

"Did you know that food has a soul? And that it has an aura that you can take pictures of? You know that, right?" he asked smugly.

"Well, I don't believe that vegetables have souls, if that's what you're saying," I said.

He smiled. "Yes, that is what I'm saying, and you'll see what I mean," he said.

He jumped up and got on my computer, browsing the internet until some high-contrast pictures of green bell peppers with auras popped up. "See?" he asked. I just stared at the screen and pondered his craziness.

"I don't understand. Where is the scientific basis for this? What kind of camera takes these pictures?" I asked. He smiled and started on a long monologue that I tuned out of after the third sentence. From what I caught of it, all foods have auras, and when you consume them they combine with your aura.
Rachel came back into the room, munching on a sesame seed cracker. "See, even that has a soul!" Kevin claimed, pointing at her snack.

The situation would have been funny to me if I was not stuck with the unfortunate obligation (which I would later realize was never an obligation at all) of hosting this odd man.

"Who's hungry?" I interrupted a little too loudly.

"Oh, I am, actually," said Kevin. "Do you have any fruit stores nearby?" he asked. I informed him that yes, there was one across the street. That's when I remembered that he was a raw vegan; although I was a vegan as well, he couldn't really eat anything I had to offer.

He insisted on going to the fruit store by himself. As he walked past me to put on his sandals, a pungent odour hit my nostrils. He smelled like earth. If one were to put a handful of worms in a bunch of soil and leave the whole thing in a closed container for about a week - that's what he smelled like.

While he was gone Rachel and I discussed whether Couchsurfing was still a good idea. It sounded like a decent concept, but this situation seemed like it could go awry at any moment. He was courteous but complacent, and I could not tolerate an overly smug guest in my home. After some deliberation we decided to host him for at least one night.

When Kevin came back, he was stressed out and jittery. "The people working in that store really didn't like me," he said. I asked him what happened. "I asked them if they knew when the fruits I bought died, so I could tell what kind of aura it has," he said. "They didn't like that for some reason and told me to get out."

Rachel and I told Kevin that we needed to go to sleep soon, since we both had school the next day. He agreed that it was time to go to bed, and I gave him a pile of blankets and pillows for him to sleep on the couch. The couch pulled out into a bed, but he insisted on sleeping on the couch.

I distinctly remember that he did not snore.

The next morning, Kevin left at the same time as me and Rachel; we did not give him a spare key. However, we told Kevin that he was welcome to stay at our apartment again that night.

That evening, Kevin and the stench of old compost that followed him everywhere showed up to my apartment. I was done with the majority of my homework, so I turned around in my computer chair and chatted a little bit with him. The subject began to veer towards what he felt like talking about.

"Today at some point I was lost and I was starving, and didn't know where there were any stores around, so I climbed inside of a dumpster and ate some bread," he said.

"Okay," I said.

"But it made me sick. I mean, I threw up everywhere. And I know why."

"Because you ate expired bread from a dumpster?" I asked.

"No, it's cause like I'm so pure, right? Cause I'm raw and everything."

"Oh," I said, disappointed and annoyed by his answer.

"Hey, I have a secret," he said.

"Oh yeah?" I said, feigning interest.

"Yes. It's the biggest secret in the human world. It's the secret to not eating."

I laughed. "The secret to not eating? Isn't that just not eating?"

Kevin smiled one of his little smug smiles. "Actually, it's something you do that makes you not have to eat for a really long time. Let me explain it to you."

I got comfortable in my chair and heard him out.

"First, you have to go to an elevated place. For example, Mount Royal here is perfect for that. You have to get there before sunset. As the sun sets, you have to stare directly at the sun in 15 second intervals. So 15 seconds staring, 15 seconds with your eyes closed, and so on. Oh, and also your bare feet have to be touching the earth."

"And if you do this you don't have to eat? For how long?" I asked.

"Yes, the raw energy you get from the sun sustains you for four hundred days," he said.

I initially heard him say four days, not four hundred days.

Four days. The human body can live without food for two weeks, I thought. So four days is definitely possible.

"Four days? That would come in handy," I said.

Kevin gave me a serious look. "No, four hundred days, I said."

"What?" I asked.

I couldn't take it. The thought of someone doing that and then living their life normally for four hundred days was absolutely absurd to me. I doubled over and laughed uncontrollably.

"Do you even go to the bathroom during these four hundred days?" I asked through my laughter.

"No," Kevin said, "they only pee. No poo comes out."

This was too much. I left the room, trying to stifle my laughter.

I came back a few minutes later, still snickering a little bit. Kevin had a grin on his face.

"I'm guessing you thought that was funny," he said.

"Yes," I said a little sheepishly.

"Sorry, but until I try that out myself or something, I'm never going to believe that it's possible to do that. And if it is, it's some crazy placebo thing or something," I said.

"That's okay. That doesn't make it any less true," he said stoically.

That sobered me. I didn't like his superiority complex and assumptions that his beliefs should be taken as truths by anybody.

"Wanna make some chocolate?" Kevin asked.

"Sure!" I was taken by surprise.

Kevin got the ingredients ready in our kitchen as Rachel and I watched. At the last possible moment, he inexplicably poured some jalapeno pepper flakes into the chocolate batter as he was cooking it. He poured the batter into our penis-shaped ice cube tray and let it sit in the refrigerator. A few hours later, we had penis-shaped chocolate treats. Unfortunately, due to his putting the jalapeno pepper flakes in, the chocolates were completely inedible. I was disappointed.

I tried really hard to get along with Kevin, despite our differences. I brought him to St-Joseph's oratory and taught him some Yukon history. We danced awkwardly to Burnt By the Sun. We hosted him several times; whenever he needed a place, our door was open. However, all of that changed one day.

Rachel was home alone and I was on my way home from school. The phone rang, and she picked it up: it was Kevin. He wanted to know if he could stop by to say hi. By then, he had been getting on our nerves a little bit and overstaying his welcome, so she told him she was on her way out so he could only stop by to say hi. He said this was fine and that he'd be there in a few minutes. He showed up a few minutes later.

After greeting each other, he got down to business. He opened the fridge door and picked up a jar. It was a particularly large jar. It was translucent, and inside of it were over 2 litres of mustard - my mother's home-made mustard, that she made especially for me. He held it up to Rachel. "Your boyfriend said that I could have this," he said.

She was skeptical. "Are you sure?" she asked.

He nodded.

She had no reason to think he was lying; after all, who would steal a jar of mustard? Still, she thought it was odd that I would have kept this from her.

Never to be seen again, Kevin left with my jar of mustard. I got home a few minutes later. Rachel told me everything that happened. I was furious. I kept opening the fridge door and peeking in, as if the jar of mustard would suddenly appear again. I couldn't believe that he stole from me - and mustard, of all things!

Mustard, an acrid condiment that I have never particularly liked, that I would have gladly given to him had he asked me politely, that I would have probably never eaten in the first place!

I hate mustard.