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27. One-uppers

Traveling to a cool place is like going to an awesome concert. The experience is so good that you wish everybody could see and hear what it’s like. This type of feeling gives one a false sense of superiority, the delusion that other people are missing out big time. “You really shoulda been there,” or “OMG, I wish you were there,” or “You would have LOVED it,” are common manifestations of this feeling.

Don’t be fooled. These statements are stone cold, back-handed beenous. The back-handed beenou is a standard backpacker conversational maneuver. The speaker feigns a desire to share, but really it’s a need to gloat, so he tickles his uvula and pukes out a quick beenou for all to behold.

kristen-wiig-as-penelope-snl-kristen-wiig-323108_1024_768But even when somebody hasn’t missed out — when they’ve actually been to that place or seen that concert — it doesn’t compare. This is one-upping. Somebody sneaked out a little horn toot, which led Mr. Big Shot to pull the tugboat foghorn. The exchange takes on a sudden “check, check mate” silence, leaving everybody feeling stunned and staring blankly at the table.

“I absolutely loved Amsterdam,” somebody says.

“Yeah, Amsterdam is pretty amazing,” says Mr. Big Shot. ”I met a Dutch guy when I was backpacking in Indo. His mom was born in Indo when it was still a Dutch colony. Anyway, he was in Indo trying to get in touch with his roots. On a jungle trek we went on, he got bit by a snake and I sucked the venom out; saved his life. Years later, I went to visit him; he lives in Amsterdam. His dad like owns Shell Oil. So we got blazed, ate krokete and drove Maseratis through the streets of Amsterdam all fuckin’ day.”

You see, one-uppers can’t help but shit all over a perfectly good conversation between well meaning travelers. It’s a collegiate thing, sort of like how the goof with the ponytail challenges Matt Damon to an intellectual duel only to get absolutely demolished by Damon, who cites plagiarism and famously proceeds to get Minnie Driver’s number. My boy’s wickid smaht.

The point is: One-uppers will do whatever it takes to make conversation revolve around themselves and their enlightened, shoulda-been-there experience.

The weekend after we ran with the bulls (beenou, see 1. Aussie Guys), my buddies and I went to San Sebastian. The place was awash in backpacker overflow from Pamplona. We ended up partying with some Americans and amid the drunken blur of pub hopping and running into a number of annoying Brit lad parties with matching t-shirts or rugby shirts, I recall getting caught in a heavy downpour.

We retreated to an apartment a few of the Americans had been renting for the past month leading up to the Running of the Bulls. We proceeded to keep drinking and people were playing CDs. Completely dating myself, as this was pre-iPod era. Somebody put on Dave Matthews Band. And an interesting wrinkle in the time-space continuum gave rise to a compound beenou of unseen magnitude: A backpacker bragged about an awesome concert.

“Oh this song reminds me of when we saw Dave in some dive bar in Memphis,” said the backpacker, a fat dude from Georgia. That’s right. He called him “Dave,” like he knew him, not Dave Matthews. “This was way before Crash, before college radio made him huge and lame. He and the band were only doing small shows in tiny little venues. Blahblahblahblah…”

I wish I had more quotes from this guy, but I was drunk and, as a habit I tend to block out one-uppers.

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5 Responses to “27. One-uppers”

  1. JPG says:

    It’s not what you can brag about it (I really tried to stay away from Mr. Big Shot), is what you learn from the trip, from the experience… and that can’t be told, must be expressed by your actions.
    Saludos Pulga!

  2. Mox says:

    I remember the Dave Matthews beenou. That guy deserves to be shot.

    The biggest travel beenou artist I ever encountered was in a hotel bar in Kashgar, in Xinjiang province in western China. I was travelling with a friend from Beijing for a week and we pretty much followed the tourist trail. But this Mr. Big Shot, a Chinese American from LA, claimed that he was going to buy a horse at the Kashgar animal market the next day and travel the province, which is the size of a midsize European country, the old fashion way. Some people might let that slide, but I caught the beenou and asked him where he intended to feed and shelter the horse. The OK coral?I suggested. He the went on to talk about how the previous summer he saved a Mongolia woman from being sexually assaulted by Chinese soldiers on the Trans Siberian. He claimed that she took him to meet her nomadic family, offered her hand in marriage and gave him a horse. He spent the next two months cruising around the Mongolia steppe on horseback with the family’s son. Sure, you beenou machine. Sure.

  3. Greg says:

    Speaking of one-ups, did Mox just one up your story about one uppers?

  4. Alvey says:

    hihi….. Datss Punny Greg!

  5. SHABL says:

    This blog is some seriously funny stuff. The art of “one uppery” is practiced by douchebags of the highest order.

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