I meet my guide, a local Sherpa named Brian, and he politely shows me into a wagon. He climbs aboard the trap, sits at the front, slightly above my eye level, and shakes the reigns. The large horse pulls the wagon forward, and we set off on our long journey.
For a while I look around at the scenery, taking in the landscape of the land that time forgot with a sense of awe and wonderment. However, after the first few hours of travelling I decide that I need to get my head down. Some rest will do me good for when I finally meet my subject.
I wake with a start. We are approaching our destination, and we are in a busy, bustling street. Street performers litter the side of the dusty road, with Bryan Adams and Celine Dion impersonators everywhere. The townsfolk stare at me in my suit with a sense of amazement, like I’ve beamed straight to them from the future. They all have typical, traditional clothing; the men with plaid shirts and boot cut jeans, and the women with oversized hockey jerseys.
Finally, we pull up outside the museum. I pay Brian in the local currency, remarking at how low the exchange rate is. The whole journey cost me B8b5 (b= one Justin Bieber single, one hundred b’s = one B, a Justin Bieber album).
I enter the grand old building, and head straight to the Greek mythology section. I approach Eros, and take out my Dictaphone. I clear my throat, and we begin.
ME: It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Todd.
[The statue stares at me blankly, issuing no response. I decide it must be his nervousness at meeting such a handsome man. The sculpture is remarked upon as a masterpiece of the male form, so he is probably not used to being so intimidated by someone with my own striking appearance.]
ME: So, Todd, where abouts in America are you from?
[The statue continues to stare blankly.]
ME: So I guess you don’t like this question?
TW: I think you’re meant to be talking to me.
ME: Wow. That’s creepy! I didn’t even see your mouth move!
TW: No, I’m behind you.
[I spin around nervously, and am taken aback by what I see. A man, a simply beautiful man, sitting on the bench behind me, eating maple syrup from a polystyrene tub.]
ME: My god. You’re… you’re…
TW: Beautiful? I know.
[He responds with a certain resignation in his voice, like he’s heard it too many times before. I take a moment to regain my composure after being startled by his stunning good looks, before continuing with the interview.]
ME: So, Todd. Where abouts in America are you from?
TW: Oh, I see how this is going to go. Okay, technically I come from North America, but you can say North ‘Of’ America. Or Canada.
ME: And what state is that in?
TW: What do you mean?
ME: Like, is that in Texas? Or New York?
ME: Or, you know, one of the others?
TW: Are you American?
ME: Please, let me ask the questions?
ME: Explain to me the difference between Canada and America.
TW: That’s a tough one.
ME: This is hard hitting journalism, Todd.
TW: Canada is, in some ways, like, ‘America-lite’. But in other ways, like, ‘Better than American’, in my opinion.
ME: Because you guys all have the same accent, right?
TW: Canadians don’t have an accent.
ME: Yeah they do. There’s a Canadian guy at my work and he has a weird voice like an American.
TW: Americans think we sound like Brits, and Brits think we sound like Americans. But you are all wrong, and I can prove it.
ME: Go ahead. Prove it.
TW: I… I didn’t think you’d press me on that… Hmm…
[Todd pauses to take a few spoonfuls of maple syrup and collect his thoughts. It strikes me that the sugary substance is to him what spinach is to Popeye. As he consumes it, he seems to grow in confidence.]
TW: I think the great British actor Christopher Plummer explained it well. You are familiar with him, yes?
ME: *laughing to myself* the only plumbers I know are Mario and Luigi!
[Todd does not laugh.]
ME: Yes, I am familiar with him.
TW: Well, he’s Canadian. Next question.
ME: Well played.
TW: Thanks, eh.
ME: So what are the three main differences between America and Canada.
TW: Okay, well, we have fewer guns here for one. Canadians are very polite and say ‘sorry’ when they actually mean ‘excuse me’ and… we are better at hockey. These are well known differences.
ME: Where in Canada are you from?
TW: I am from the true heart of Canada. Right smack in the middle of where the Great Lakes merge. You know where that is, right?
ME: Erm… I’m guessing the centre?
ME: Is there a name for this magical place?
TW: I am from Sault Ste. Marie. Also called ‘The Soo’ by nice people… and ‘The Sewer’ by not so nice people’.
ME: Is that the French speaking part?
TW: No. The French speaking part is Quebec, which is a different province. Provinces are like states in America, or… uh… shires in England.
ME: We have counties, not shires. Shires are where Hobbits live.
TW: Well, Hobbits are British, no?
ME: So you don’t live in the French part. But it is true that your wife is French, correct?
TW: Anyway, I live in Toronto.
ME: Your wife, Todd?
TW: Oh, my wife is French, yes. But she is, in fact, from France, not Quebec.
ME: Do you speak French?
TW: Only when drunk.
[At this point, Todd stares off into the distance with a look of sadness in his angelic face. I assume he is thinking back to a better, drunker time, but maybe he was just thinking about hockey.]
ME: Have you been to France?
TW: Yes, we go every now and then, and I enjoy it quite a bit. It’s very nice, and wine is relatively inexpensive, which allows me to talk to people at a reasonable price. They also think I sound like an American though.
ME: Where else have you travelled to?
TW: Not too many places. I’ve travelled pretty extensively in Canada and the United States. Also a bit in the Caribbean, and also Greece, actually.
ME: What are you wearing?
TW: Are we on a break?
ME: What do you mean? Like a break from the interview? Or like Ross & Rachel?
TW: Well, I’m wearing what Canadian’s always wear, Canadian business casual. Jeans and a plaid shirt.
[This helps me to understand the outfits in the street a little better. Apparently those men were local business owners.]
TW: I should clarify that my father is American so I can run for President of the United States.
ME: I didn’t ask about that…
TW: Yeah, but I wanted people to know.
ME: Are you running for president?
TW: I mean… no, but I could if I wanted.
ME: Okay? Can we move on?
TW: Just make sure people know, okay?
ME: It’s all being recorded.
TW: Good. Good.
ME: Would you describe yourself as a ‘sexy’ man?
TW: Well, you have. And I tend to agree. I like the sex.
ME: Excellent. So we’ve reached the part of the interview where we move on to what I like to call the ‘real’ questions.
ME: Are you ready to get real, Todd?
TW: Hit me.
ME: Todd, I’m not going to hit you. What if I mark your face?
TW: I mean with the questions.
ME: Oh. Yeah okay. You’re known for your puns on the internet. I guess the main question people will want an answer to is this: What the hell is your problem?
TW: Puns are the greatest because the people that love them appreciate my work, and the people that don’t love them actually do in secret. That is my position.
ME: What happened in your life to make you like this?
TW: That is an interesting question.
TW: I guess my parents were too supportive, and laughed at my early attempts at humour. So, like in most cases, we should blame others.
ME: I think that’s noble of you to blame them.
TW: I appreciate that. I believe people should take personal responsibility for their actions. I will mention this to them.
ME: Back when you were young, twitter didn’t exist. What did you do back then?
TW: As a child I did typical things… Played hockey… uh… that’s it really? I pretty much lived a lifetime before twitter was around. Could you be more specific?
ME: Did you have an abacus?
TW: Is that an age joke?
TW: Regardless, yes I did.
ME: Ha! Knew it. Other than twitter, what do you do with your time?
TW: Well, I do have a family and they are very demanding. I am also an engineer, which is equally demanding. Aside from that, I am a musician and play / write / record, etc. Also, the sex, like I mentioned earlier.
ME: What musician are you?
TW: What musician am I?
ME: Erm… yeah. Like, are you Josh Groban?
ME: Andre 3000?
TW: Is that a musician or an instrument? Sounds like a Casio keyboard model. I play bass guitar if that is what you are so awkwardly getting at.
ME: So you’re not Andre 3000?
TW: I am not.
ME: Do you have an eraser?
ME: I crossed ‘meet Andre 3000’ off my bucket list, but I need to erase that.
TW: No, I don’t.
ME: So you play bass guitar?
TW: Mainly, yes. I play a little regular guitar too.
ME: Do you ever release music?
TW: Not recently. I was in some bands that did in the past, but that was a… that was a long time ago. It was my main thing for a while, but is more of a hobby now. You’ve heard of Steppenwolf?
ME: I have not. Is that your band?
TW: No. I just wanted to know if you’d heard of them. You’ve never heard the song “Born to be Wild”? Or “Magic Carpet Ride”? Wow. Okay… Iggy Pop?
ME: Yeah I know Iggy Pop. And yes, I know those songs. I just didn’t know the band name.
TW: Okay, well, bands I was in opened for them and Iggy one time. It was very exciting. But, just to give you a time frame, it was a while ago.
ME: That’s pretty cool. Is there anywhere I can listen? This actually leads me to my next question, displaying my excellent journalism skills.
TW: Nope. Your journalistic instinct sucks.
ME: I’m not going to pretend that didn’t hurt. My next question is, have you ever used another platform to share your creativity? Other than twitter.
TW: Well, I guess I have always exhibited the ‘jokey’ behaviour at social gatherings or when I’ve had to run meetings at work. But, with respect to my ‘jokes’, if I may use that term.
ME: I’ll allow it.
TW: With respect to my jokes, I would say no. Maybe the occasional goofy reply on Facebook, but twitter was really the first platform on which I really put it out there. It started out as @ replying to big accounts, and then morphed into what it is now.
ME: What about other creative output? Story telling?
TW: Story telling / writing, especially fiction, isn’t really my thing. I’ve met a lot of folks on twitter that do that, and I admire them for it, but it’s not something I do. If twitter starts allowing ten thousand characters, I am out of here. I had to write a six part tweet for the Battle Royale, and it practically killed me.
TW: When are the funny questions? Or were the answers supposed to be funny? I’m old and confused.
ME: The comedy will come from my hilarious writing around the answers you give. Don’t worry about that, granddad.
TW: Good. I have faith in your abilities. You can twist whatever I said if you like.
ME: Yeah, none of what you said will be in the final write up.
TW: Make sure you mention my bus / plane tweet.
Just as I go to ask the next question, a janitor appears and tells us the museum is closing. I ask Todd if he wants to continue elsewhere, but he tells me he should really get back to his family. He offers his hand for me to shake, but it is covered in maple syrup, so we just wave.
I leave Todd in the street, and climb back into Brian’s wagon. As we pull away I look back over my shoulder as the beautiful man walks away, and fades into the crowd.