“Ooh, you’re this year’s J1’s? The name’s Genie, I live full time here in the hotel.”
From her ratty pink tracksuit, to her knotted, greasy blonde hair, we knew from the start of the summer that Genie was a questionable neighbour to say the least, however by the end of the three months, she was comparable to that almost lovable homeless alcoholic every small Irish town seems to have.
“Excuse my French, but I just took some Xanax and now I’m really high…” she giggled and then burped, sitting – uninvited – on the end of my bed, having just let herself into our room (we always left our doors on the latch when we were home, so the other J1’s in the ‘hotel’ could just walk in).
She sat fiddling with a strand of her hair, twirling it around her index finger incessantly and picking occasionally at her balding scalp as she detailed the events of the night before to the three of us – the smell of whiskey still hot on her breath, her cheap perfume doing absolutely nothing to conceal it.
“I didn’t know what the hell I was smoking, but it messed me up good!” she said through the few teeth she still had – which were a worrying shade of yellow, and her gums had a strange black tint to them.
I was barely listening to her, instead I watched her dirty nails – or what was left of the chewed-down stubs – clasp at my duvet as she told a story none of us had asked for.
“Anyway, then I drove home high as hell…if ya’ll ever want a lift to the clubs, just hit me up, ‘kay?”
The deafening silence that ensued was almost hilarious.
We met quite a few characters in our South Carolinian hotel that summer. Genie was one of the most memorable, however there were a lot of close contenders. Like Manuel, for example – a man from Mexico that walked around the grounds of the hotel in his dressing gown, underwear and slippers, regardless of the weather or time of day. We found out later that he had actually dated Genie, although I feel like the word “dated” is just a sugar coating for friends with benefits!
He always chilled by the bicycle rack – with about fifty bikes of every shape, colour and size for the J1s staying in the hotel – and offered help to those who had trouble with theirs. Most of us had bought our bikes second hand from the Spring students that were leaving as we arrived for the summer, so we assumed that that was why so many of us had trouble with them.
Between faulty brakes, flat tires, squealing chains and flimsy saddles – we all thought we had the worst bike luck ever. Manuel came across as such a groovy guy, always ready to help us out for the small tip that we felt obliged to give him, like everyone else that so much as smiled at us in the States – which is a whole other rant for another day!
After my friend had paid him to replace her tyre for the third time in one month (as well as the cost of the tyre), I began to get sceptical. He was always lingering by the bikes, ready to give a helping hand. He was always there. Plus, none of the bikes broke during use. They were always damaged overnight. It took an embarrassingly long time to put two and two together and for me to realise he was the one damaging our bikes! By then it was too late, it was time to leave the Dirty Myrtle for our travels. Looking back on it, I kind of have to applaud him – what an evil genius!