May 23, 2010 by vinylburns
Last year, my high end corporate illusionist buddy Andre Montreal was performing at a festival in China with a few dozen other performers, all staying in the same hotel.
Andre and several of the performers had exchanged a series of gentle practical jokes over the years.
Fellow performer, Hoops Baccarat, fresh from having her hair cut, bribed the hotel staff, and gained access to Andre’s hotel room where she sprinkled her freshly cut hair around his bathroom floor. Hoops knew that this would create a whirlwind of confusion, suspicion and xenophobic rage in the mind of her friend Mr Montreal. Then she could watch him spin out of control, savouring the prank, but without actually hurting him directly. This was typically the kind of passive aggressive disconcertingly victimless, attack that she was known for.
Her reputation as the queen prankstress was born from a season in Edmonton, Alberta, some years back, during which she managed to hide 14 kilos of magazines, 2 coffee cups, 2 kg of (initially) frozen peas, a wireless microphone and a copy of the Edmonton yellowpages under “Princess” Andre’s mattress. Not all at once of course, but gradually adding a few items every day of the 16 day festival. As she says when she recounts the story… “Paying the hotel staff $150 each for a key card… priceless”.
On Andre’s return to his Chinese room, he soon noticed the hair, and also the air conditioning vent directly above. He incorrectly assumed that the hair had originated in some other room, and been blasted through the bowels of the hotel, and jettisoned out all over his bathroom.
Andre has a pretty vivid imagination, so it wasn’t long before he was reconstructing the events in his mind… imagining some strange Chinese man in a mystery hotel room, ritualistically shaving his entire body with a titanium lady shave, chanting 80’s pop lyrics and murmuring strange incantations is a mist of swirling green incense smoke.
With the sound of a backfiring taxi outside, the Asian shaman would snap awake and back to the reality of his tropically sweet stinking room. Suddenly aware of the unacceptable nature of his habitual weakness and his burning desire to retain the skin tone of his youth, he felt the self disgust of a man waking on a flight to discover he’s been drooling on his neighbour’s shoulder.
Embarrassed at the hairy evidence, he would sweep it from the filthy tar stained marble of the kitchen floor, and furiously poke every strand through the grill of the kitchen extractor fan, before activating it. He would breath a sigh of relief at wishing a Mandarin “Bon Voyage” to the incriminating evidence of his smooth skinned weakness .
Andre then imagined these liberated hairs, they themselves victims of dark and ugly misogynistic acts, drifting nervously on a sublime wafting breeze, through the purgatorial DMZ of the hotel ventilation system. Communing with all the dust, bugs, dandruff and dirt. Reminiscent flakes of another era. 30 years of grubby history, all documented on the gasping walls, and carried in the rushing torrid airways of Beijing’s Holiday Jewel Hotel.
Finally, Andre imagined the hair’s arrival in his very own bathroom… it’s expulsion from the ventilation network accompanied by a suspenseful rush of distant smokey wind, phased and broken, like the sound of Korean fighter jets, streamed over a dialup internet connection.
After Andre Montreal’s initial outrage had subsided, the gag became a more gentle and rolling comic experience, Hoops Baccarat sat watching Andre skulk around the hotel, hearing him whisper under his breath about management’s completely outrageous refusal to acknowledge any responsibility. Even when they dismantled the entire ventilation shaft to prove that the system hadn’t worked since the early 1990s, and physically could not have been the source of the mystery hairs, Andre’s was not calmed.
I believe that the decline in Andre’s quality of service was consistently and inversely proportional to his disagreeable temperament… However, when one is so deeply immersed in a situation, the real objectives often become clouded in the sweet swirling green fog of battle… and perhaps then, victory is in the eye of the behoder? Certainly, in Andre’s eyes, he departed triumphant.
Here’s a photo of Andre’s final shot in the standoff… paying for his Chinese hotel movie bill in Japanese Coins.
Now THAT’s revenge.