Strange old men – Taking a detour

During my main stay in Switzerland a couple of months ago I visited the city of Luzern (Lucerne in English) twice. The first time was to scope it out, the second time to indulge again in what my scoping out had told me was a good place to be and to take a boat ride on Lake Lucerne. Actually I had even grander plans: I was planning on visiting Rütli, the field where the germination of Switzerland is said to have been set in motion…

So there I am sitting on the open air deck of a mid-sized boat. With my feet curled up under my legs on the seat, the side of my back leaning inevitably against the rail and my arms and neck stretching themselves out naturally to enjoy the warm contact of the sun as I scribble something or other in my notebook. Let’s enjoy that nice image for a moment before I tell you that I was also surrounded by a Korean tour group and a bunch of Swiss schoolkids under supervision on an excursion. Oh wait, did you enjoy the image?

I can’t remember how it happened exactly anymore, but at some point the shoulder length, curly-haired man “of a certain age” sitting on the other side of the deck made a comment to me out of nowhere about how cool it was to have the Swiss flag on each boat, before he got up to unfurl said flag that had been wrapped up around its pole by the wind. I responded somehow, something non-committal but acknowledging and friendly one imagines. This paved the way to asking if he could join me for a chat, which itself paved the way to inviting me to get off at his stop (a great number of stops earlier than Rütli) so as to continue chatting for a bit longer. He assured me I could continue my mission for history an hour later at the next boat departure point, which we would walk to.

I thought why not (after much internal debate, admittedly), and then there we were, just the two of us walking slowly on a small lane that winded through small, kept fields of knee-length grass and edible wild plants, him pushing his bicycle alongside him.

He was an American who had been living in Switzerland for around 5 years. A special kind of multimedia artist who moved there precisely because Swiss people seem to go nuts for his stuff – his words. If that’s where the money is…… – also his words. I asked him if he could speak Schwiizerdütsch and ahhh, had no idea what a can of worms this question was. Yes, yes he could speak it, enough to get along and have pleasant little social interactions with all the people who want to come up and talk to him. For he, like so many guys I have talked to, is stuck with that dilemma that so many people know him while he unfortunately isn’t sure of who they are… Anyway, he can speak “enough”. But it’s a horrible language and that makes sense for him because he’s not a fan of the people who speak it either. When I asked him what it was about them he replied that he found them cold, too reserved and kept into themselves. And uninteresting. What him and I had going on at that very moment, the spontaneity and the interesting, random discussion was something he had been sorely craving, he said. Swiss people don’t do this, can’t do this.

We continued talking and walking. Him talking more than me, though I did encourage this by asking relevant questions every now and then. Why did I encourage him with questions? Because he was talking about things I’d not heard much about before. This something = his time living with the Apache American Indians learning their medicine and their soothsaying and predictions for the future; his wholehearted belief that the world is being run by an elite group of men who are satanists and who are controlling human behaviour and running experiments on people. For example in New Zealand, which has been one of the most go-getting countries in terms of suicide rates. He asked me if I ever wondered why the suicide rate should be so high in NZ. I found it interesting that he asked me that in a manner suggesting that clearly it was bizarre for NZ to have so many suicides because well duh, NZ is a paradise. In my own head I was thinking… well… it can be bloody boring. You could be stuck in a small town with not much money and little knowledge of other prospects, with uninspiring or destructive people around you, nothing but the piss to put in you and your youth leaking out of you. But I wanted him to continue, so I asked him why.

Because there is a great darkness in New Zealand, he said. It’s the perfect place for the elite to run their experiments on people. Think about it, it’s an isolated little place at the end of the earth. Not many people, lots of space. No one really thinks about the country. It’s the perfect place to test out playing with people’s lives and discovering the effects. These suicides, the hopelessness that the people felt, is what the elite wanted. They want people to feel that they have no control over their lives, to be wholly dependent on their products and their capitalist machines. Their ultimate aim is ruin of the earth and the human. Kudos to him though, he tied in this belief with the Apache predictions, such as that when the sign of the scratches from a bear’s claw is omnipresent, the end of the world is nigh. I haven’t seen the marks left behind from a bear’s claw recently, you might be saying to yourself. Oho…. but look at THIS

Now that I think about it, I ask myself if he holds his particular view of Swiss people because they really aren’t interested in a good conversation or if it’s because they are less tolerant of self-importance. The Swiss politeness does not ever transform into charity perhaps 🙂 But of course my attention wasn’t wholly driven by charity, I was genuinely curious about his beliefs and what he would say next.

At one point he decided that we needed to go faster, so I got on the back of his bicycle and braved the truly evil bumps of the road. Many people did in fact say happy “Hi!”s to him as we went by, and I wondered several times what people thought was going on here… Asian girl wearing skirt holding on for dear life to the back of hard bicycle seat atop of which sits 50-something hippie American outcast dude, obviously getting an extra workout from uphill pedalling with added weight.

At another point we stopped by briefly at his house. I was very very reluctant to go in. He reassured me again and again that it was alright, that he was just grabbing or changing or checking something quickly. I acquiesced in the end but not without making sure I was always walking behind him, making sure the door wasn’t locked and that I knew the way to run out, and making sure that I displayed my wariness. We spent a bit of time there. He offered me some special water (I think it was purportedly from India), showed me a drawing an old girlfriend had done of him, showed me the fantastic view of the lake from his bedroom window, told me about the cleansing he was currently doing while chiding himself for the 1664 beer he had been drinking on the boat, and told me a bit about his wife who was at that moment travelling for work. Actually… I think she was Swiss.

Finally we made our way to the dock, only to find that the ship had just sailed. Ah well, time enough for a beer then! In our last few moments together he told me that he doesn’t trust the police and that he lives between the lines of the law. I asked him what that meant and he managed to pull a sly look and darken his face with shadows at the same time. He asked me about my star sign, I asked him about his. He confessed in response to a question of mine that his conspiracy theory belief was quite depressing and that he didn’t yet know what to do about it. He was still trying to figure out a way to do something good with this knowledge that he knows not that many people have…

He paid for the beers and my boat came. Not before he asked if he could take a picture of me, and not before he joyfully threw it out there that I could easily stay the night at his place, or heck, the whole month! I thanked him, and told him I had already made plans for the evening.

I took the boat back to Luzern, it was much assuredly too late for Rütli.

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