Moments after arriving in Portland, I was set upon by a self-declared pirate. He was attracted by my coat, which in his mind identified me as one of his kind. DJ Nick, the butthole ninja surfer pirate, is the first person who was not reminded by this coat of the Beatles. He told me I reminded him of Uriah Heap, and proceeded to sing me what I imagine was one of their songs.
Over the next ten minutes, Nick sang me a wide assortment of song-fragments, from Queen to punk and metal bands I had never heard of. He sang with complete conviction and the sort of unselfconscious animation sometimes achieved by the truly insane, looking me at all times straight in the face from three feet away. In his styling, every song sounded effectively the same.
Nick decided that I was uncommonly kind, cuddly even, and opened his arms to hug me. We hugged briefly, lightly. It was nothing particularly intimate, but Nick found it significant enough to thank me for it as he said farewell some time later. It was the first human contact he had had in a long time.
In between passionate renditions, Nick talked incessantly. He was incapable of calming down, he said. He had been born with a silver spoon, but a paper plate. I’m still not sure what that means, but I find it a fascinating figure.
The whole time we were engaged I felt a sort of apprehension at where the exchange was headed. A minute before Nick accosted me, a junkie prowling the MAX stop had hit me up for “three or four dollars”. I said no. Nick, I eventually learned, was in search of weed, though he asked me within the context of a flurry of other sentences and didn’t wait for an answer before continuing on.
Eventually, though, he had to get back to his rounds, in search of his object. In departing, Nick wanted to give me the gift of reflecting for me my most beautiful qualities. These, he said before turning and speeding off, are my heart and soul.
Eugene –> PDX –> Chicago –> Boston –> Scituate, RI