In the park
Every park seems to have one.
There’s always one just-past-middle-aged man– usually with long grey hair pulled back into a pony tail or up into a samurai knot– executing some interpretation of a martial art using a huge wooden stick or some such. Whenever I see one of these men I am forced to imagine their apartment, and I do not like that. I do not like the fabrics and odours and screensavers
that puts in my head, and so I’ve always kept a kind of hostile distance from them.
Our park, the park where we take our son Jones to play every day, has one of these guys. He is pudgy, dresses all in black, and looks like somebody whose life had been taken over by Columbine ninja fantasies a long time ago.
As such, I have not yet chatted with him, and have chosen instead to make fun of him behind his back. However, since my completion of pulmonary rehabilitation I have hired a personal trainer and I now work-out in this park, which brings me in direct competition with the Columbine ninja for the creepiest man in the park. Yesterday, he was stationed, with his collection of magic sticks, by the bench where I now work out.
This is the conversation that took place:
Me: Hey there, what are you up to!?
Columbine Ninja: ( Continues his maneuvers without saying a word.)
Me: I’m about to work-out. Here. By this bench. This one here. Is that okay with you?
Columbine Ninja: (Raises one hand to shush me)
Me: (Begins to pull out resistance bands from a Shopper’s Drug Mart bag)
Columbine Ninja: You must never disturb a warrior when he is training.
Me: Are you a warrior?
Columbine Ninja: ( Does a maneuver with his big stick, strikes the branch of a tree)
Columbine Ninja: The true warrior is invisible to those who cannot see.
Me: Yes, of course, I should have known that.
Columbine Ninja: Not all who wander are lost.
Me: Are you a part-time life coach or something?
Columbine Ninja: I am a student, not the master.
Me: Uber driver?
Columbine Ninja: I am a student of Kenjutsu!
Me: I think you work at a weed dispensary.
Columbine Ninja: Anata wa seik? shite imasu.
Me: What was that, Klingon? That doesn’t impress me in the least.
Columbine Ninja: I wonder why it is that you have trouble breathing? Is it because you fear life? I think you are a scared man. In Kenjutsu they teach you how to control your breathing, how to master your fear before it masters you!
Me: I only have one lung.
Columbine Ninja: And all you need in order to live a failed life is one excuse.
And then the Columbine Ninja just walked away and I commenced the most melancholy work-out in history.
Excellent form, though.