1. The Viking visited ruination upon me earlier this week, as is his wont. A profoundly lanky and uncoordinated person with a huge Christian beard, he inhabits his own private reality of, basically, numbers, largely oblivious to anything else. i have decided he is autistic although any human categories must needs fall short of his appalling Protestant potency. We watched The Wolf of Wall Street, Sicario, and Batman v Superman. He seemed to enjoy the first to some degree, at least he didn’t say anything negative about it. He thought the second and third mediocre, as best i could tell – it is hard to gauge his reactions, as he rarely, to the point of never, says anything good about anything except CS Lewis and Pope Francis and the EU, so a favourable response consists of contemplative beard-stroking and a series of incomprehensible mumbles, or just “Hmmm.”
Raised as an Evangelical Protestant, he converted to the most anodyne form of Catholicism available a few years ago, and has remained Protestant in his habits & tastes. i encouraged him to go to the rad-trad SS Catholic mass in Munich but he demurred, – Hmmm. They are schismatics. Hmmm.
Instead he went to the most happy-clappy guitar & joyous tambourine & hippy dancing “Catholic” Mass he could find. i stayed in my flat, had a cup of tea and worshipped Wotan.
2. It occurred to me that taste is fundamental, and even religion is merely layered thereon. The Viking dresses, for preference, in torn and stained beige rags, eats mashed potato and overboiled peas, and lives in a student room in student squalor, despite being 37. He cannot smoke even cigars without coughing fits and beard ignition. Conversation with the Man in Black as we were smoking on my last visit to Finland:
MIB: Does he smoke, this so-called Viking?
elberry: No. He is essentially a materialist atheist.
MIB: Ruined by a Protestant upbringing. Does he drink?
elberry: He can drink to some degree.
MIB: That is something, at least.
The Viking cannot, however, be judged by normal human, or even fascist, standards. Last year, i gave him a black bag i was reasonably fond of, thinking “well, i like it, but he really needs a new bag.” He took it. This time, i asked after the bag. He frowned and stroked his beard, then, with a careless shrug: – Oh. I left it in England somewhere.
i then proceeded to ask what happened to a great cybercriminal coat i bought him in 2004/5 from Zara, back when they actually made decent clothes. He frowned and tugged his beard, then, with another careless shrug: – My mother threw it away.
elberry: What? When? Why?
Viking: It fell apart after a couple of years and she said I couldn’t wear it anymore.
For a moment, i wondered if the coat – which i calculate cost a week of my wages – had been much frailer and badly-constructed than i had thought; then i realised he meant it had fallen apart after “a couple of years” of being thrown on the floor, kicked about, burnt, ripped apart with scissors, used to mop up piss, dragged behind a bus, thrown into a vat of silage, the usual Viking treatment. Money itself isn’t very significant for me, but when i think of how much suffering and grief a week of minimum wage office work represented, it was, briefly, horrible to think of him treating it so – but then, i also reflected, it was my fault for thinking he wouldn’t do this.
There is a long catalogue of things i bought him, all lost, discarded, destroyed. The first was a handmade leather case i bought for his Dungeons & Dragons dice back in 2001 – it was a beautiful piece, and comparably expensive; i asked if he still had it, the usual serene frown, beard-tug, then, – It’s probably in Canada somewhere.
3. i had a day’s respite when he went to Regensburg alone – i had to do laundry and sundry chores, and to be alone. i thought about my irritation at his Vikingry, and then realised it was basically self-inflicted irritation, for i was expecting him to be something he isn’t. Twenty years ago, i let my dobermann into the living room, and since he wasn’t properly trained, he promptly began ripping the cushions to pieces, and was much aggrieved when i threw him out. It was my fault for not training him, though at that point (aged 19) i knew nothing about such things; but nonetheless, one cannot blame the dog, and nor can one blame the Viking – it was my fault for letting the dog into the living room, and it was my fault for thinking the Viking could be other than a Viking. As the Man in Black judged, once a Protestant, always a Protestant.
4. As ever with the Viking, he managed to attract some vague danger. In this case, we were on the bus and a German chav was staring darkly at us, probably because we look so bizarre (Vkg in a linen hat and red cord jacket i bought for him, which he has probably already “left in China somewhere” or perhaps they “fell apart” or “they got on fire” or “a dog ate them” or “my mother confiscated them”), and were speaking English (and the Viking is incapable of moderating his voice, because he is autistic, so everyone in a 100 meter radius can hear him). The Viking yawned and the German chav immediately yawned, to me evidence of his attention. When he was about to get off, the chav stared menacingly at us and hissed, – Schöne Sachen, Leute! – translated directly, “nice things, people” – it could i suppose be taken as a compliment, but not with that look of Left-wing hate.
The Viking had no idea what was going on – despite speaking German, better even than me since he did it at school for 7 years, and besides told me in 2011 “You make my head hurt when you speak German. You should, like, stick to Italian or something, because you are brown and that is, like, a brown language because, like, all the Italians are, like, brown and stuff” – he insisted on speaking Slovak to everyone he met, which was met with uniform incomprehension as one would expect.
– Didn’t you notice him staring at us the whole time? i asked, amazed despite my long acquaintance with Vikingry.
– Didn’t you notice him yawning immediately after you did?
– Look, I was not obsessively monitoring him like you, the Viking snapped.
Given the chav had been directly in front of us, about 10 feet away, facing us the whole time, i found this rather odd. But then this is the Viking, who looked over a woman’s shoulder in a bank in Kiel, and then boomingly announced, – Hmm, interesting: she is paying in American dollars!
At least he didn’t start reciting her account number outloud, then backwards, then multiply it by Pi (he has, naturally, memorised Pi to 10,000 decimal points) and inform her of the result. He is totally oblivious to ordinary danger, but throw a number in his field of vision and he will memorise it, Rainman style.
5. On our last evening, waiting for the s-bahn, he suddenly announced, – Oh shit, I just remembered: I need your underpants. Give them to me.
– I mean, umm, I am out of underpants. So I need to borrow a pair of your underpants. Obviously you can have them back.
i considered him. He stared at me without shame. i sighed. – If, for some inexplicable reason, i gave you a pair of my pants, and you then chose to wear them, i certainly wouldn’t want them back.
– Hmm. But I need underpants. Give them to me – now.
i was amused, in spite of my natural horror, at the idea of him “borrowing” a pair of my pants, and then years later he would tell me he left them “in Chernobyl somewhere” or “my mother took them” or “they fell apart”, no doubt shrugging at my stupidity in ever trusting him with anything. i informed him: – A man will not ask his friend for pants. A man goes commando, or reuses his old pants.
The Viking just frowned and said, after much thought: – Hmm.
And how was the Pant Question settled? Reader, i refused him.