Thursday, November 22, 2012

Crazy Old Guys

(While I'm still ziplining through the rainforest with Canadian backpackers and avoiding hotels with monkey shit in the kitchens here in Costa Rica enjoy this backlogged entry from Cyprus about Crazy Old Guys. Costa Rica has plenty of Crazy Old Guys so this is a top I'll have more to say on.)

Another incident from Cyprus -- after I left the resort where I was staying with my Girlfriend, I went to stay at a cheaper place in the city in Aya Napa, that was above a cafe / bar thing.

(That's actually on the embankment in Larnaca, but whatever.)

So there was this Crazy Old Guy there. It was one of the first bars to open in the city, opening at 10.00am, so he'd stop in there first for his morning whiskey.

(Now, when I made a post about myself as a crazy old guy, I got a lot of negative response; but anybody who has spent some time abroad has probably seen or been accosted by one of these guys. On a bus, in the cafes and bars, in a park, whatever, a rosy faced, glassy-eyed guy over 50, probably drunk as hell.)

I'll not divulge his nationality; let's say he was Swiss. You know, European. On a pension. Poor health. He lived in a room there most of the year, banging Russian whores when he needed a woman (which I gather was not often -- banging whores is rarely even a cure for boredom, much less a cure for loneliness) and bothering people in cafes the rest of the time. He was 68, he said.

If he'd ever had a wife, kids, whatever, he had either outlived them or completely alienated them. If he had any friends, likewise. (I take that back - there was one equally-drunk, seemingly homeless Turkish guy who would come willingly talk to him, probably because he wanted drinks.)

He would approach me in the cafe as I checked my email and begin ranting and raving about whatever as he enjoyed his first drink of the day. He had a theory that Turkey was about to invade Syria and there would then soon be a war between NATO and Iran and Russia.

He would ramble about his adventures; he'd spent a lot of time in Central and South America during the 80s during heady times of drugs, revolution, assassination, and civil war. I don't think he managed a complete story, however, just streaming out random bits of information tied together by key words which would send him spinning in a new direction, until I made an excuse to leave.

I mean, a lot of people end up alone and crazy, of course. (And there are worse things than ending up alone.)

But those guys abroad -- it's a very particular kind of crazy. A crazy that comes from nobody ever telling you that you're crazy, either because you're a foreigner or because you're a good customer, and you lack any close relationships.

(I think of my office mate in Saudi, who did not see anything at all unusual in changing his pants right in the middle of the office prior to biking home, and once asked me to download him some animal porn right in the middle of an office full of shy religious Pakistanis.)

So pay a little more attention to the Crazy Old Guys you see. Consider the road he walked. Maybe the Crazy Old Guy in his 20s, 30s, 40s, was a good-looking, fun, charming guy who got laid a lot. Ya think?

In more than a few of the popular travel-and-sex bloggers I already see the roots of Crazy Old Guy -- barely-concealed bitterness, the mood swings, the alienation, the ranting, the constant insistence how right they are and how awesome their life is.

(Believe me, one thing I have learned in my 43 years, there is no bigger indicator that someone is unhappy than that they are constantly insisting how great their life is.)

Ah well. Anyway, dying in the bosom of your family or dying insane on a lonely shore somewhere, you're just as dead. But this is an issue I'm obviously concerned with, how one deals with middle- and old-age abroad. Anybody has any good non-crazy old guy abroad stories, let me know!


Anonymous said...

Yes. You should consider the case of my neighbor in South America - lets call him Rudolfo. After a PhD and a career in health care in the USA at 55, he headed to one of the major cities and set himself up with an apartment and a university program in Spanish. Not rich by any means, but comfortable - he set about applying a passion for learning, to immersing himself in the local culture. Along the way he met a very attractive 23 year old woman from a neighboring country. Fast forward 7 years and they are still together and he enjoy what appears to be a very healthy, fulfilling life and is probably the happiest person I know. From outward appearances its certainly an "odd coupling", but I have no doubt that they have an "agreement" that works for them. He smiles and she smiles. He's got a nice young woman and she's got a decent guy who pays the bills of comfortable life. She's not a model, and he's not a multi-millionaire. You wont read about him on any blog or website. He's just living a good life on his terms with a grim on his face. Not crazy, not jaded, not angry, not "ugly", not bitter and not delusional. So hell yeah, its being done right all over the world and I plan being one of them.


Anonymous said...

Well said above! It depends on how you approach the second half of your life....You can go old gracefully, with some style, intelligence, in good shape(if you take care of yourself) and on your own terms, or you could become "that crazy old guy"..... it's all up to you and how you approach it.............

English Teacher X said...

Yes, the problem with attempting to examine how many crazy old guys there are versus happy older people abroad, is that the crazy old guys are a lot more visible. That is, you can go to any bar full of whores and count the crazy old guys, but the happy old guys are probably just home or maybe at the opera or whatever, something classy.

English Teacher X said...

But I should say I'm not really talking about a guy who retires to another country after a stable life -- bringing his stability and sanity with him - I'm more talking about a guy who has been knocking about from country to country most of his life.

There are plenty of relatively happy American retirees in Costa Rica; since the Russians and Dominicans took over Florida, I guess. But there are also plenty of broken-down hippie / surfer / pothead guys who aren't aging well.

Anonymous said...

I've been living abroad for the last 14 years, teaching English in the same FSU country, so I guess I haven't been knocking about. I'm 47, I work soley as a private teacher, do pretty well financially, keep in shape and try to dress well in good quality, proper fitting clothes that are appropriate for a man my age. I travel, but I don't stay in hostels. I think not only accepting your age is importantant, but embrace and try to make the most of it. There's nothing worse than the old TEFL Teacher trying to hang out with the young ones fresh out of UNI.....and yes it is possible to make a decent living from TEFL if you stay in the same place for a while, take your job seriously, act professional and know how to market yourself. You'd be surprised at what students would pay for this. Fortunately most TEFLers are young, here today, gone tomorrow, don't take the job seriously and put up with BS from even the best TEFL schools which isn't saying much.

Good luck X on finding your way in the second half of your life. It's possible even in TEFL to grow old gracefully.........

Anonymous said...

Well hell, X, crazy young guys turn into crazy old guys, that's not really a surprise ...

Anonymous said...

Hey, don't be so judgemental, X! I watched both parts of the "I am a motherfucker" doc -- the guy says at the end he's happy, he's got his pension, some friends, his place, his weed in his fanny pack and that's all he needs! Who is to say that his life is better or worse than anybody's?

English Teacher X said...

Yeah, true enough, unless he starts bothering me in a cafe.

Anonymous said... this is what you're aiming for, X!