Monday, October 24, 2005

That man of great emotion

Friday night I indulged in one of my favorite pastimes….playing BF2 online. Again. However, there was a difference.

Normally I play on Asian servers to get better connections speeds. This is especially true in Japan, but on the whole the games voice over IP system is very rarely used on these servers. Or if it ever is, it’s only being used by guys sitting next to each other in an internet café, and they are speaking in a foreign language.

On Friday I played on an Australian server where exactly the opposite was true. I joined up to a squad in game and was immediately welcomed by the other squad members….so I ran and got my mic (which I bought especially for this game), plugged it in and spent the next five hours drinking beers, chatting, and causing havoc with a group of aussie guys, and one kiwi, who were all drinking late into the night as well. In fact the guy in New Zealand mentioned that the sun was coming up as he was going to bed. The game runs so much more efficiently when you are just able to press a button and tell someone what is going on rather than having to type something out.

We indulged regularly in the time honored tradition of base raping. Base raping involves sneaking across the other side of the map, camping (or waiting) for your opponents to spawn (re enter the game after having been killed previously, or starting another life) and then killing them as soon as they do. Base raping is very fun. As long as its not happening to you. However, the map we were playing on (Wake Island 2007 for those in the know) presents the unique challenge of this enemy base being located on an aircraft carrier.

I often found myself flying through clouds of missiles in a big helicopter and landing in the sea docking bay underneath the carrier, to the screams and howls of laughter coming from my team mates as it was obvious the enemy side was getting more and more frustrated. Good night in.

Saturday was a nocturnal journey into Fukuoka. Karaoke was sung, clubs were visited, money was spent and fun was had. Yesterday I journeyed around the city during the day. Found a very large shrine in the middle of the city. Surrounded on all sides by trees, this long sprawling shrines boasted flocks of exceedingly tame pigeons. Bought a bag of pigeon food and tipped some out onto my hand. No sooner had I done this than two big pigeons flew onto my hand and fought, the winner remained on my hand while it ate all the seed. I stood in the sun and fed pigeons on my hand while musing about viral genetic recombination and how awfully glad I was that Japan (apparently, they might keep things hush hush and they would be really good at it too perhaps) has had no outbreak of bird flu. Lying in the sun I watch as a brand new Mercedes saloon, shiny from the showroom floor, is driven up to the foot of the main building. The owners exit and a priest comes over and opens the bonnet, the doors and the trunk and gives the new car a blessing for good luck. He moves to every opening, in his hand he holds a two foot long pole covered with maybe a thousand long strips of paper attached to the end. He shakes the stick two or three times over the engine, in each door and then the boot. He closes each surface as he goes about and waves the stick slowly back and forth. The car blessed for luck and safety on the roads, the couple drive off, glimmering, into the setting sun.

A father plays with his young child. He drops seed in a big circle around his two year old son. The boy is immediately encircled by hungry pigeons. The child is confused, the father roars with laughter.

The previous night at a hamburger restaurant, maybe at three in the morning, we all noticed a man sitting alone in the corner who we thought at the time was having an animated conversation with somebody else via a hands free mobile extension. On my return to the restaurant the next day, he is still there, having obviously been home as his clothes have changed. He sits in the same spot as before, smoking cigarettes, and is still having the conversation. It is obvious however that he is talking to no one.

His face is intense, one moment he looks as though he is keenly interested in what he is hearing from the other person in this imaginary conversation, a second later his expression will change to one of extreme worry or care, sometimes displaying anger. Other times he will have a look of profound happiness and pride, as if viewing his child’s accomplishment. He pays no attention to anyone else in the restaurant, however, this morning I am seated directly in his field of view. I wouldn’t say I am sitting where he can see me, for his eyes, when they happen to move towards my direction, look straight through me, focused on whatever ethereal subject his conversation revolves around. The man himself is in his forties. He is well dressed, clean shaven and for all other externalities in a manner of good appearance, which makes his behavior all the more intriguing, for if he had the look of an outpatient or a recluse then his behavior, if not somehow sad would seem more readily explainable. I don’t want to say that I saw a man whose sense of mental attachment to social norms is detached due to a debilitating mental condition, for perhaps he is a master theatre practitioner, learning his lines, or perhaps doing a character study. Maybe he sits and acts out scenes, watching the reactions of other patrons to his abnormal behavior. Maybe I myself, not wanting to ever arrive at the state where I am talking to myself in an obvious way in public and thus not wishing the fate on someone else, am merely projecting some kind of alternate reality on him. Maybe he is just crazy. Maybe he does just go home and get changed, supported by rich relatives, into smart clothes everyday, and sits contently in a burger restaurant chatting contentedly to no one at all. He certainly causes no harm or distractions to others. Whatever the reality of the situation it is fascinating to watch the evidently epic drama that is unfolding on some plain of the imagination in this man of great emotion.

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