giovedì, giugno 30, 2011

Social experiments in running

I don't know when exactly running for an hour every day became a sort of necessity, or a sort of craving - a treat I gave myself, like a chocolate bar - instead of something I laboured through. But I think it must have been shortly before I went to Shanghai, because when I was there and running on that mind-numbingly boring treadmill (how do people spend so much time on those fucking things?) I could only last for an hour for one day, and the following days my motivation was gone - basically I forced myself to run 20 minutes or 45 minutes just to help me digest the vast quantities of pig I was eating. And it sucked. I really wanted to run more. But the only way I was going to run outside was if I woke up really early to beat the traffic, and I never did, thanks to jet lag.

So when I got back here, I suddenly realized what a relief it was to run for an hour every day again, through, it must be said, inspirational surroundings. The birds are bloody fantastic; cockatoos, ibises, storks, rosellas, larrikeets, magpies, drongos - if they're not a feast for the eyes, they're a feast for the ears. If we move away from Australia again (and lately, as you can probably tell from my whiny posts, it's feeling like more a matter of "when" than "if") I'll hallucinate hearing magpie and drongo cries for the rest of my life. European magpies are probably my favourite birds in the world, but their barely-related Australian counterparts have the loveliest song you can imagine a bird singing.

Anyways, the lovely birds and listening to them means that I don't need to listen to mp3s, though I do on Monday and Tuesday to prepare for my Mandarin class. However, I've taken to wearing my earplugs all the time. I've been getting too much male attention lately and wearing earplugs gives me an excuse to not look up when I'm being addressed.

It's been my own fault, as far as these things are ever the fault of anybody besides a man who expects a total stranger to be interested in what he has to say. I started a social experiment a month or so ago to see whether country town people in northern NSW are bigger assholes than country people elsewhere by smiling and saying "good morning", etc., whenever I catch anybody staring. And I catch people staring a lot. I daresay that's not because I look so good, but because people here are really bundled up for winter at the moment while I'm running around in a tanktop and, if I say so myself, darling little running skirts. And for a place that's so nice to go for a run, not that many people seem to run here. Also - and I'm serious - I think in this town, as a half-breed southern European, I may count as a visible minority. This place is white as the fucking driven snow as what got some hydrogen peroxide spilt on it.

The experiment was hilarious, at least to me, in its results. 80% of people ignore the greeting, and 60% of those keep staring like great gawping buffoons at a freak show, while the other 40% quickly look away, like I've just taken my cock out. 10% smile and say good morning back; most of those are people over 60. The other 10% are men who think I'm flirting with them and try to strike up a conversation, which obviously I'm not keen to do; I'm running and out of breath; I'm a one-man woman; and even if I wasn't, historically when I've selected a man my modus operandi is more along the lines of taking my clothes off and sitting in his lap. Smiling and saying "good morning" is so distant from flirting, in my book, that men who interpret it as flirting actually creep me out. For heaven's sake. Ideally, I'd like to be polite and friendly to the whole world; that doesn't mean I want to fuck it.

So yeah - the experiment is done. I'm not going to keep trying to be a one-woman army of warm politeness here anymore, and now I hide behind my silent headphones, listening to the birds and enjoying myself.

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