The International Writers Magazine: The Kamping Fuhrer
The bearded Brit nervously cleared his throat, extended
his glass, and politely made overtures to my uncorked bottle of wretched
red vin de table. The mysterious Aragorn-like Brit looked like he hadn’t
had a drink in an eon and that each sentence was framed in his mind like
a carefully apportioned shot of whiskey. Friendly enough. But kind
of silent, like.
The Kamping Fuhrer
In the south of France, on the campground, inside the trailer, we were all talking and drinking up a storm like total strangers who’ve never met before.
I told the cheerful Australians, who were traveling around Europe in this
trailer, with their surfboards, about how when I was in the campgrounds of
Portugal there were mostly German tourists.
One of the Aussies said, 'So?'
'Well, at the campgrounds. . .' I paused for effect. 'They had signs
everywhere for the manager that read ‘Kamping Fuhrer.’ [‘Camp Leader’] I thought to myself, ‘Today a campground, tomorrow the world!!!!!’'
The laughter was nonstop and uproarious for about a minute. Apparently,
I’d made a funny. Again, the Brit was snorting like a goat, sheepishly asking me for another glass.
'C-could I?' I noticed with alarm that over half my Magnum was
missing--and I was still on my first glass. The Brit was sitting only an
arm’s-length away from the bouteille, and was both efficiently availing himself of my plonk and getting quite animated. He ran on heavy fuel.
By the time the bottle ended, I withdrew to my tent and was soon fast
asleep, hibernating in my dreams, like a Freemason Bear. Next thing I knew, my
gorgeous dream of flying was interrupted by the sounds of a rusty-stringed
untuned guitar viciously being attacked by a French centime pick. Music of the
spheres, for maniacs. So the Brit knew how to play the guitar, and sing, after midnight, badly.
'After Mid-niiiiiiiiiight, we’re going to let it all hang out!'
'Monsieur! Monsier! Fermez la bouche!' I heard the manager confront
Werebrit outside my tent.
'Speak English!' The Brit yelped in an exceedingly loud voice. This seemed an unfair request, considering we were in the South of France.
'I said, Be Quiet!' the camping leader reiterated. 'People are trying to sleep!'
The Brit said something akin to 'Why I oughta' and began strumming again,
singing like a lunatic. 'After Mid-niiiiiiiiiight!'
There were sounds of a scuffle. Psst!
'Aaaaaaaaaaaarrrgh! I’M BLIND!' I could hear the Brit running around outside, yelling, getting dangerously close to falling on my tent. Obviously, the manager had just maced him.
'I’m Blind! I’m Blind!' His yells trailed off into the night. 'I’m Bliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiind!'
The next day I woke up to birdsong and popped my head outside my tent.
There was the quite hungover Brit sitting calmly outside his tent with his
guitar, looking as if nothing had happened.
'Are you okay,' I ventured. 'Got a little sauced last night?' He obviously didn’t know what I was referring to. Like any good actor, he sized me up in a squint and his look said, obviously an American, probably a New Yorker, not to be taken seriously. 'Cheers, mate!' he decided upon, changing the subject with a nod and a wink, and began crooning an outrageously bad folk tune, obviously some sort of improvised Oasis cover.
John Edwards March 2006
vacation stories in Hacktreks