Sunday, March 14, 2010

an afternoon in the park

It was when they started talking about smoking spaghetti that I decided it was time to call it a day. Not that it hadn't been fun -- it had -- but seeing as I really had very few contributions I could make on the subject of smoking anything, let alone spaghetti, I figured everyone'd be happier if I left before airing my views on the subject.

It wasn't even that I don't have rather bohemian friends who are into Virginia Woolf, excessive piercings and a bit more marijuana than could really be considered medicinal; it's just that these weren't my friends. They were borrowed afternoon chums, and nice enough ones at that, but I'm much more prepared to overlook a tendency to extreme fashion and a cult-like dependency on bicycles in my own friends, most of whom don't suffer from either tendency. I do, however, draw the line at disproportionate facial fur. That just isn't necessary on anyone, and I don't care how close we are.

Danny is perhaps my most bohemian friend, and thankfully he's shaved his head completely. (Forced to chose between two extremes, this is most definitely the appropriate course of action.) Although he majored in something appalling normal (business, from memory), he's a poet at heart. We met in a course on Sherlock Holmes and have been intimate friends ever since, or so he told me when we met a year later and I had no idea what his name was.

We meet up randomly and talk Oscar Wilde and photography and Korea and London and Paris and tea and writing and phases and farming in Vietnam and what relics they'll put in museums about us in a couple hundred years. We've chatted at bonfires and bakeries, but the most memorable was when he surprised me by popping by my dorm at 3 am. He'd called about two, woken up all my roommates (I was just going to let the phone go) and wondered if I'd be up if he came in an hour. Seeing as I already was, I said sure. Seeing as my roommates were already up, they decided to make muffins and make sure I stayed safe. (We went to a Christian college.)

And so, you see, I handle bohemianism quite enthusiastically in my own poetic pals; it's just when I meet people for the first time on a lovely Sunday afternoon I'm a bit taken aback to hear the gory details of their recent bouts with social anxiety disorder and their unwillingness to take linguistic lessons from American professors (which was, they said, almost as great as their unwillingness to take sex tips from virgins). And that was before we moved into atheism, illegal drugs and spaghetti.

Before that was great, though. Being unconventional sorts (sorry, did I forget to mention that?), we played a game of unconventional soccer: big ball soccer. We played with a huge exercise ball and kicked it from one end of the field to the other. Most of us also being what I would take to be rather unathletic types as well, the field was not particularly big nor the competition particularly fierce. I think the end zones were designated with somebody's sneakers, or scarves, or some such ensembular accoutrement. (Being in jeans and a nondescript black tank top myself, I felt conspicuously normal. Mentioning that I lived in Cremorne didn't exactly have the effect of endearing myself any, unless possibly they saw me as a project to mold. But really I got the impression they were too busy forgetting to shave to care too terribly much.)

The rules of big ball were not terribly complex. They consisted primarily of knowing which way you were supposed to send the ball. Pretty much anything else went, though, or at least I think it did. They weren't the sort to get too miffed even if you did mess up. Or go the wrong way. Or whatever.

Oh, except the one other rule that everyone had to have a big ball name, much like my Thai students all insist on calling themselves a strange and generally inappropriate word never heretofore considered a name. Seeing as a new player was given exactly ten seconds to come up with one, I promptly settled on Running Water, which I stole shamelessly from another friend's childhood game of Cowboys and Indians. Ten seconds doesn't give you much time to contemplate these matter closely. Emo and Pyrex were among the other players, so I figured I hadn't gone too far awry.

Play was constantly shuffled and reshuffled as players came and went and teams turned woefully uneven. But yeah, whatever. I generally hung back on defense, mostly because it required less running. But no one was too bothered about running, really. Eventually someone always went after the ball, unless a small passing child claimed it, and when that happened we just called half time and left it.

Play resumed, occasionally interrupted by small dogs or players making their goodbyes, but eventually we made it to the end, winning We-Don't-Know to We-Don't-Know. It was fantastic.

It was then that we sat on the grass and I began shuffling cards, mostly because it's my favorite not-so-subtle way of indicating I'd be up for a game, if anyone else is. Either no one else was, or else they thought it was an odd neurotic tick I had. I don't know for sure, but I'm inclined to think it was the latter. I'd have fit in so much better if it were. Even if I didn't know a thing about smoking spaghetti.

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