My favourite place to live thus far has been the Audacious Antelope (not its real name), a small, family-owned hostel not far from where I work. The coming and going of international students, transient workers and WWOOFers keeps the social scene fresh and exciting.
It was in this setting that I met an interesting guy from Europe. There was a knock at the door one night, and when we opened, a tall, skinny, pimply Dutch kid with three suitcases walked in. His name was Andy Amsterdam (#68). We didn’t know it at the time, but our social scene was about to change.
Andy was fun and loved to go out, and he was also a natural salesman. Every time we talked about going to the movies, he told us what rating the film got on Rotten Tomatoes. Every time we went out to a restaurant, we would hear about how many stars it got on trip advisor or yelp. He was always trying to make sure we ended up in the best place and had the best time possible. “They have the best wings, they have the best burgers”, he would say. He spoke only in ratings and superlatives.
His talk along these lines became so excessive that Pauline (#69) once said in her outraaaageous French accent, “He could sell a fridge to an eskimo”. He was so charismatic and so committed to his sales mindset, that I’m pretty sure he had sold his mother’s placenta before he even slid down the birth canal.
Andy was always looking for fun, and, being the life of the party, he naturally gravitated towards the creepy guy under the stairs (#67), who could always be talked into going out. The rest of us, a little more budget conscious, would usually stay home for dinner. We would often break out some Cards Against Humanity or board games in the living room, so Andy and Creepy would always make it home in time to join us.
He was smart, good at his job, and generally fun to be around, but he did have one, deep, glaring disability. He was, let’s say, mechanically disinclined. And by saying that, I don’t mean that he couldn’t change a flat tire. Simple things like door locks and refrigerators would send him into a state of utter confusion.
The first time I knew something was wrong was when I saw him through the window of the front door, entering his code for the third time. I walked over and unlocked the door to end his misery, but he said, “No. Wait.” and then entered the code one more time. With the lock active, he turned the deadbolt, locking the door I had just unlocked for him, and his body slammed into the door as he turned the knob and yet the door remained latched. He then entered the code one last time and successfully sprung through the door.
I figured he was just having a bad day, but later I heard another story, which confirmed that he was worse off than I thought. Creepy guy had accompanied Andy to his office one day, and sure enough, Andy had trouble opening the door. He slipped his key into the slot, then struggled and strived to turn it. “Something is wrong with my key. I am going to ask for a new one”.
Creepy: Did you try pulling the door towards you?
Creepy pushed Andy out of the way, grabbed the doorknob, pulled the door towards him, then turned the key with ease, and opened the door. Andy was like:
“OMG how did you know to do that!” and Creepy counter-questioned, “Don’t you know how a door works?”
“I’m still going to ask for a new key” Andy insisted.
“That’s not going to help!” But Creepy’s words fell on deaf ears.
We have all tried to wrap our brains around what goes through Andy’s head whenever he opens a door. I hypothesise that his thought process is as follows.
Step 1: Insert key into door lock.
Step 2: Magic!
Step 3: The door magically swings open.
We teased him relentlessly about this, but he learned precisely nothing. Fortunately, being as intelligent as he is in the area of sales and marketing, he will always make enough money to pay other people to solve his mechanical problems. He’ll get totally hosed, but he’ll be able to afford it.
One day, after we had finally stopped teasing him about his door lock issues, he asked for the jug of water that I was standing by in the kitchen. “Is it cold?” He asked. “No”, I responded as I handed it off. I thought nothing of it. This was a container of filtered water that we kept full so that no-one would have to stand still and wait for the Brita filter before pouring a glass of water. But the next day, Andy asked me again, “Is it cold?” “No, of course not!” I responded. And then it happened again; I was pouring water into a glass, and he came up with a glass of his own. “Is it cold?”
“Holy crap, Andy! How is a container of water that sits on the counter all day supposed to be cold!”
“But I thought you keep it in the fridge sometimes.”
“Look Andy!” I opened the fridge, which was packed to the gills. “The fridge is always full to overflowing, and even if we had some space, none of the shelves are far enough apart to fit a 4L bottle!” But Andy had never thought of that. Nope, not him. The laws of physics don’t have a place in his mind.
Despite the fact that we laughed at him, we accepted him as one of our own. This was our friend; he was one of us. Together, we stayed up late playing cards. We celebrated every time someone got a job, passed an exam, or had some other major life event. We lived like family. This was the golden age at the Audacious Antelope. Willow the Hippy Chick, Evan the Irishman, Austin the Aussie, Pauline with the outraaageous accent and Hilary the Hostel Hero all lived there during this time. We were all a little bit eccentric, which made everything fun. I wouldn’t change a thing about those months, because they were some of the best memories yet.