After my unprecedented lunchtime run yesterday I decided to catch the tram home rather than walking. Just as I settled down comfortably with my book, a guy - ragged, beanie-wearing - got on and huddled in the back stairwell, smoking a joint. Then he came over and sat across from me, filling up a glass with wine from a cask in his bag.
It was quiet for a moment. I wondered hopefully if he might be a quiet, introspective drunken stoned mad man.
Fuuuuuck I'm drunk he said
Then he started singing.
I come from a place a thousand eons awaaaay. A thousand triumphant soldiers caaaaame.
He swung his arms out to the side and bowed down low to the ground.
He said, loudly;
I was born on the sixth of the sixth seventy-six. That's in the Bible. I looked it up. I have a white stone with my name on it. Mark. No, Rowan. My name is Rowan. I said the word "Jesus" and the sky ripped apart. This was in Queensland, but it happened all the same. I said the word "Jesus" and the sky just went ballistic.
It sounded scripted. Badly scripted. But it was effective all the same. The business man next to me took out some papers and determinedly highlighted lines. The woman across from me started texting people. I turned the angle of my book down so that the title wasn't apparent. Don't give him a way of catching you up in the madness.
He was silent for a while, then
You're all fucking idiots. Sitting in those towers all day, collecting your money. You think that's where the power comes from, but it doesn't. It comes from the street. You think you have the power but one day you'll be dead and then you'll remember me.
Then, another element was added. Seven ticket inspectors got on, including one rookie who didn't even have the proper uniform yet, but just dressed in grey. Thieu and I call them Storm Clouds. The Storm Clouds are approaching. The mad guy saw the Storm Clouds immediately.
I don't have a ticket. I'm on your database. You can give me a fine if you want. I'm still paying off the last one though. I'm on your database.
A database of mad tram people?
One of the inspectors squatted down next to him, talking with a soothing voice.
It's ok, mate. We'll work something out. Where do you want to go? Do you have any ID?
The head of the inspectors stood down the other end of the tram, making complicated hand signals, like a baseball coach, to the rest of his team. They nodded and signaled back. A secret language of inspectors. Intriguing.
The mad guy showed the inspector his ID and the inspectors regrouped.
He's ok said the one who'd been speaking with him. He was smiling.
He's a nice bloke.
The other inspectors said nothing, but huddled together, tightly, and looked straight ahead, except for the new recruit who was in the middle, his head swinging around, looking at all the passengers.
Well, I'm back, alive, red in the face and a little trembly, but I made it around without collapsing. I was second last in our group to finish, the only person slower was the fifty year old grandmother from accounts.
She's a very fit grandmother, though.
Very, very fit.
In fact, she'll probably beat me next time.
I spent most of my younger years avoiding all kind of physical activity, in particular that which had a competitive element. My poor mother tried to send me to tennis lessons, which I loathed and which I was hopeless at - the only bit I enjoyed was bagging the court at the end of the session, my heart filled with joy at the knowledge that I wouldn't be back there for another week. She had this idea that I would be invited to tennis parties when I grew up - thankfully, this never happened. I'm not sure what a tennis party is but it sounds awful, just awful.
I also hated, with an intense passion, netball and hockey. I was slow, uncoordinated and not a good team mate. The biggest problem, besides my physical inability was, I think, that I really didn't care. And other people in teams often care rather a lot, I began to realise. I remember one girl hissing at me during a game of hockey, just when I was musing on how ridiculous the game was, the whole hitting the ball with the one side of this stupid stick, that I should really just start trying for once. I had a better plan. I stopped trying altogether and by the end of my high school sporting career, often just didn't turn up at all.
The worst activity of each year was the cross country run - an annual event that was foisted upon us and always struck me as a life threatening situation. As an ardent non-runner, was I really expected to suddenly just get up and run around a 10 kilometre course? I don't think so. Luckily, my poor mother was with me on this one and I had in my bag an open-ended "get out of jail free" letter from her that I could present, with a trembling hand and pale face, should anyone try to spring a cross country run on me. think I only ever actually went to one in the end.
I'm a little better about physical activity now - I ride my bike, I walk a lot, I even swim occasionally. But I don't run and I only play competitively if it's the kind of game where I can rest my beer on a nearby table. Pool, for instance, is very civilized.
So I'm not quite sure how I've gotten myself into the situation I am facing this morning. I think in my initial excitement about being back home and back at work I actually volunteered to be one of the people from my work to participate in the Corporate Cup - a bi weekly event that involves running around the Botanical Gardens. Competing against other companies. Running together as a team. It's only 3.8 kms but the furthest I have run, since that last cross country run some time back in the eighties, is about 5 metres to catch a tram (and normally I don't even do that as Melbourne tram drivers are very sadistic and wait until you are almost there and then take off, with a whole lot of bell-ringing and cruel laughter.)
The thing that concerns me the most (other than cardiac arrest) is the knowledge that my face goes beetroot red after running and then stays that way for a couple of hours. Ah me, what have I done? And this goes on until November...
I haven't used my Stumble Upon button for sometime, although it's sitting right there in my toolbar, but today I felt the urge to click and ended up here at Clandestina. An online magazine with images, interviews and animations.