Oddball and the Eight Ball


So, I’m currently renting a room at a place in Léon, a spot my friend found for me online. It’s a weird scene — the entire place is filled with a tightly-knit group of Germans and Swedes, all in their early twenties. I’m the odd old guy sitting in the corner and while it’s not hostile, the vibe is definitely not inviting.

But that is the subject of a full post on its own.

One day someone moves out and John, an American, moves in. He’s about my age and talks constantly about all the rental properties he owns all over the world. The key phrase here is that he talks constantly. He doesn’t want to converse, he just wants to blather.

He acts the part of the high-roller, wanting to eat at the best restaurants in town every night (this place is totally high-end, man!). I just want to cook some tacos and make a salad in the kitchen, myself.

I quickly explain to him that I’m here to work and save money for the next leg of my journey but he insists on inviting me out 2-3 times a day to check out some new high-end place.

Despite all of his investments and willingness to throw money at a high-end steak, he’s obsessed with saving pennies on transport. He’s planning on moving to Matagalpa where Jason, the owner of this place, has another property. If he’ll just wait until a room comes open, Jason will drive him there for $30. Renting a taxi will run over $100.

So he gives me hourly updates on deals he’s found (“This one is $45 but I get a 4-hour tour!”). I’m trying to write and I put in my headphones –sans music– hoping he’ll take the hint. Nope.

Oddball and the Eight Ball, Nicaragua

I finally agree to go to dinner with him one night and he chatters the entire time. The place was entirely high-end and my stomach wasn’t happy, so I got the spaghetti — comfort food. In the end, I’ll get 3 meals out of it, so it was a good deal, high-end or not.

He has gout and a slight limp so he admits that he’s “laying off the drink” until it improves. Unfortunately, he finds a farmacia that sells him pills to alleviate the pain and he’s soon into the beer (I can’t judge — I’m drinking too much as well). But his entire day consists of sitting on the couch, drinking beer, and surfing the web while the tv runs in the background (in Spanish, of which he knows nada).

This goes on for a week.

He only leaves to go out and eat. I have absolutely no idea why he’s traveling — what’s the point?

And I can’t get more than 30 minutes of peace without him telling me about this great restaurant he just read about in Matagalpa or how he just had the roof of his Panamanian rental place power-washed.

By 11am each morning, my room is a sweatbox so I’m forced to work in the common area, completely at his mercy. I’m counting the days until he leaves.

And finally, that day arrives. The German/Swede coalition has left as well and this cool guy named James from LA has moved in. It’s John’s last day in town so he’s kind of going for it, I guess. He’ll drink a 12-pack before the night is over. I’m not really paying much attention to him at this point.

Oddball and the Eight Ball in Leon, Nicaragua James walks in with a young Nica woman he’s met and they head to his room. John stands in front of me, swaying — I’ve never really seen him hammered like this. “That guy is pissing me off — he asked if he could borrow two beers and he hasn’t paid ’em back yet”.

“How long ago was this?” I ask.

“About two hours ago. I think you should go tell him he needs to replace my beers!”

“This is your fight, my friend. Leave me out of it. What’s two beers cost? A dollar? Do you really want to start a fight over a dollar?” (James is huge and could destroy him with a single shot).

“Maybe you should give him a little more time. I don’t think interrupting him and his lady friend is a really good idea, personally. I know I wouldn’t take it lightly”.

He totters off back to the couch and I try to get back into my groove. Five minutes later he’s at my side again. “You know what we need?! We need an eight ball.

“Ummm… I don’t do coke, John. And I wouldn’t have the slightest idea where you might find it.”

“James will,” he declares.

“He just got here today,” I reply, “I seriously doubt that he has any hookups”.

“Yeah, but he’s met that Nica chick — she knows people. Go ask ’em to get us an eight ball,” he demands. I look him in the eye, patience draining quickly. “I want nothing to to with this, dude.”

“Okay, okay… just two grams. Go ask her to get us us two grams.” That does it. I stand up and lean into him, face to face. “This is the last time I’m saying it: Leave me the fuck out of this.”

“Ohhh! So that’s how it is. You wanna step around the corner and settle this like men?”

Now, I outsize him by at least a third. Sure, I’m out of shape and overweight but I also know that I just bought him a bunch of gout medication on my last market run earlier in the day — he probably can’t even make it to the corner in his current state.

And what he doesn’t know is that I’ve planned this adventure for a long time and studied a fairly aggressive form of kung fu for three years, thinking that I might at some point need to defend myself. I know 200 ways to hit a man in the balls.

“It’ll only take a minute,” he brags, sticking his chin in the air.

“Oh, it’ll take a lot less time than that,” I reply. He smiles smugly and nods, the implication flying right over his head. “Damned right it will!”

I pack up my gear and head to my room, reluctant to create a scene and even more reluctant to get the local police involved.

The next morning, he’s gone.

His two ‘replacement’ beers are still sitting in the fridge.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin Revolinski June 11, 2013 at 12:30 pm

You drank those replacement beers, right? I mean it’d be a shame if they were left behind.


wes August 17, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Damn right I did.


Andi of My Beautiful Adventures June 11, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Wow what a character! I think that guy would have gotten on my last nerves!!!


neale @ livinginthailand.net June 11, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Wes it’s amazing your still travelling this way good on you! I couldn’t and didn’t put up with these types for long eventually settling on the easier softer option of finding more long term accommodation of my own, you are welcome to come hang here any time, plenty of space :-)


Philip June 11, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Great story and what a seriously annoying character. Met a few in my five years of travel but I’d put John in the top five for sure.


Raji June 12, 2013 at 5:32 am

Once again – i appreciate your story telling skills.

I was just anticipating while reading that by the end of it – you might have tried at least one of the 200 ways to hit…
but your patience ruled. Great.



Clayton June 12, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I grew up with a guy like that. I learned to just cut him off early on and walk away. It sucks so much when you can’t get away. I completely empathize with you. I might have used a couple of those kung fu moves and then decided to walk away if I were you.


Anthea June 13, 2013 at 2:51 am

Hi Jonny,
I only got this RSS feed today, so l was going to say.. hay lm just down the road in St Raphael.. l’ll pick you up on my way through to Germany. ( Im following the F1 Grand Prix around Europe this summer)
Cos, l think you’re in serious need of some Sane’s peoples company !!!

But You’ve left Leon and France….

So next time……


Ruzhi June 23, 2013 at 7:33 pm

“And finally, that day arrives” – haha this line is hilarious! looks like annoying oddballs always make for good stories..


miaa July 9, 2013 at 4:57 am

remarkable story.. thumbs up :)