Hearts of Darkness: A hipster leaves town for the tropics
If I were making a movie of my trip, I would probably begin with two scenes.
In the first scene, I’m in a dirty, random, and slightly touristy bar in the West Village -- some place you would ordinarily never find a hipster like me. There’s an R&B cover band playing at one end, and I’ve got my back pressed up against the bar trying to defend myself against a few overenthusiastic local drunkards.
“I’m moving to Africa,” I tell them. I had just found out myself a few days back, and I was telling anybody I came across just to hear the words out loud.
“Africa!” one of them sprays (rather than says) back at me, “I was in Kenya for years in the army! I loved it! I love Africa!”
He is middle-aged, bearded, and speaks with an accent of some Scandinavian origin. He’s far too drunk. He gets right up in my face. (Imagine the camera close-up on him from my point of view.)
Fueled by a vehement enthusiasm and beer, he goes on.
“You,” he says, “are you going to have the time of your life. Oh Africa. Oh the dirt. Just wait until you feel the dirt of Africa. In your hair, all over your skin, in your mouth. It will get under you tits.” (And here he presses his hands into my ribs cage). “ I was in the army in Kenya When you shower it will run down the drain. It will grit between your teeth. You will love it. There’s nothing like it. You will have the time of your life. Oh Africa!”
Cut to the second scene in which a tall, lanky, and bespectacled editor at a newspaper stands over me, doling out advice. His manner is restrained but his concentration and attention are flattering.
“You’re doing a very important thing,” he says, “it will be difficult and dangerous, and you’re taking a real risk that very few young people take these days.”
“There are two things you should remember: first, don’t get involved with someone over there. You want a relationship to the country. You want to fall in love with the country. And you will, if you don’t get involved, and you’ll be tempted to because you’ll be alone in a strange land. But don’t. And second, there will come a time when you can’t take it anymore, and you will want to come home. Stay through it. You’ll come out on the other side. It’s a great life. A phenomenal life, if you can stay with it.”
And then, after those two scenes, I might cut to my going away party, entitled, as some of you know, “Hearts of Darkness: A seedy expat bar in the tropics.” And you will all be there (some of you are dressed, as instructed, as characters you’d find in the scene: missionaries, diamond smugglers. deposed dictators, drug mules, expats, AWOL vets, and, of course, cheap women), and I am there, looking tropically phenomenal. And DJs are spinning in this wacky tiki bar, and people are dancing, some karaokeing in the back room (I will later sing a rocking rendition of Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With You Best Shot”), and I am trying to manage saying goodbye to everyone.
And everyone is very serious and sad, wishing me wonderful things, and I’m not even there. I’m already halfway out the door to Africa.
In any event, that’s me up there -- a photo from the makeshift seedy expat bar. I know it’s generally bad form to post a photo of oneself looking like some sultry babe or whatnot, but I had to entice those first time readers.
Now I’m off. Off to Africa.
For background on who the hell I think I am and what the hell I think I’m doing, see the ABOUT page.