Friday, February 22, 2008


I’m not a very competitive person. It might be my downfall when it comes to things like, oh I don’t know, sports or success. When I took tennis class at MHC, I’d often call the other player’s “out” balls “in” if they were losing or for that matter if they were winning.
Today, as I stood on the corner of St. Kilda Rd and Southbank, a young man stood next to me. And that’s when I decided it was time I needed to win. The tick tick tick of crosswalk was like the count down for when the games would begin. I didn’t take my eyes off the red-don’t-cross man, waiting for him to turn into green-walking man. ta-dat ta-dat ta-dat – I leapt forward on my left foot. With long strides and a satisfying swish of my hips I took the lead. Over the tram tracks, across the other side and victory (?) I made it to other side of the intersection first. But no…Red haired Napoleon Dynamite, but naturally better dressed, would not be defeated. I struck forth walking with confidence and I’d like to say grace but I tripped twice and got my foot stuck in a fallen branch once.
We stayed neck and neck. My techniques for a walking war are to stay on the far left of the sidewalk (we’re in Australia here!) and to dodge on coming pedestrians with ease and grace(!). The race could be called off at any moment, if we parted ways a truce was automatically called – these are the rules. As we walked, almost together, I wondered if he knew we were racing. Was he in on this competition too? How much did he want to win? My thoughts drift. Two days ago, as I was coming back from the beach, I walked towards my apartment building and a young man coming from the other direction turned onto the walk way. I got out my key and scanned it to enter the lobby. It wouldn’t scan. I waved it back and forth frantically trying to get in before this guy saw how incredibly awkward I am. 3 seconds later, he reached for his key and waved it once in front of the detector. He reached for the door. We were in. I laughed and thanked him, “cheers” said he.
Still neck in neck, I begin to have this slightly irrational fear that this guy is going to the same place I am. That unless I make some huge push, and I begin to run he’ll be walking me to my front door. I shake my head, amateur! This is a city! Out of thousands of people, could I really pick the one person that lives in my building?
We walk. And walk. I wonder what he is listening to on his Ipod. And if he didn’t have his Ipod on if I would be courageous enough to ask him how he’s doing. I glance at him again, his Napoleon Dynamite-ness is uncanny I feel like I know him. I am waiting for him to begin to dance, awkwardly. I remember a conversation Emma and I had once about people listening to Ipods in public places and limiting their chances for impromptu conversations with strangers, which lets face it are the best kind. Earlier today, I walked the Bo Gardens, as I walked through the Shrine of Remembrance, I passed a young girl using the timer on her camera and a bench to try and get a picture of her & the memorial. I offered to take her picture for her. And then tried to explain what the word Shrine meant. As I walked with Napoleon, I wondered if I would have bothered talking to the girl at all if I’d been jamming to Paul Simon or the soundtrack to Once (a billboard on a tram I was on the other day said that one person on the tram at that very moment looked like they were jamming out hard core on there Ipod were actually listening to Michael Buble (not that there is anything wrong with that)).
We approach my apartment my building. I pray that he goes into the one next to mine. I slow down, let him enter first. He holds the door for me. De ja vu. No, reality. We wait for the elevator. I think I can still win this, be strong! The door opens, he jumps in and then holds his arm protectively over the door like he is afraid its going to smoosh me. Ok, so he won leg: elevator. I wait for him to push the button. His floor is 2 floors below mine. He gets off the elevator. I, sigh, defeated as the doors close and I ride up the last floors alone.


  1. "I remember a conversation Emma and I had once about people listening to Ipods in public places and limiting their chances for impromptu conversations with strangers, which lets face it are the best kind."

    I have decided that yes, wearing earphones in public does reduce your chances for random conversations, but this seems to really work - if you are listening to your iPod and you see a cute person, taking the earphones out is a very clear sign that you wouldn't mind talking to them. It requires a minimal amount of effort and you've sort of made the first move without actually saying anything! :)

  2. Clever. I hope that isn't what Napoleon was doing once we got in the elevator, mostly because if i had to guestimate i'd say he isn't a day older than 12 (but that's only if i had to guess, he could be 25...). And i didn't bite!

  3. That is hilarious! What are the chances of him living near you? Who knows, he could end up being your best friend!

    Thanks for stopping by and for commenting!