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Monday, October 04, 2004

i don't feel like translating

i'm so tired and i should be grading, and i'm forcing myself to even write this nonsense now...

yesterday i ran the bridge. on the way back, i stopped and started stretching against the concrete barrier that separates athletes and old strolling people from vehicles that ignore the posted speed limit. i had my headphones on, and i thought that this was a signal, in American culture anyway, that you wish to speak to no one. especially foreigners that want to speak to you for an obnoxiously long period of time. and this was my mistake. because obviously it means that this is exactly what you wish to do.

enter foreigner.

the first thing i noticed was that he smelled like chinese food. strike one.

he redeemed himself slightly when he started talking. he wanted to let me know that i was stretching for too long. oh, he's a kind stranger...just looking to better his fellow jogger. i can handle this!

but he just kept talking. and not well. our conversation wandered from stretching to careers to european holidays. and bare in mind that throughout this conversation, i am attempting to understand his mix of German and English. though it was quite clear that he was Asian. go figure.

and now his chinese food odor is switching to intense B.O. strike two.

i want this conversation to end, but it's becoming impossible. how do you interrupt a bumbling foreigner that cannot decide which language to speak in? more people are passing by on their way off or onto the bridge. i try to make eye contact hoping that one will read my mind and sense that i am in trouble. they'd come over and urge me that it's getting late and that we need to get home to the children or dog or cat or whatever. but no one did.

my sweat was starting to chill me and i stood there with crossed arms, glancing at my watch hoping to anything that he'd get the hint. but then i quickly realize that he will not get the hint. he didn't get the initial hint that i don't enjoy conversing with people while exercising; hence the headphones, genius!

i'm not sure how i broke up the conversation, but i'm sure it was rude. or maybe not. social customs were well out the window. but when he sensed my longing to leave, he tried to sustain whatever it was that was actually happening. i was already detatched. in some broken form of an interrogative sentence he attempted to plan a future meeting time: come...with is a problem...we run...ehhh....excuse me...(giggle, head shake)...ehhh...we run together?

oh christ. he isn't...

[strike three, asshole]

the conversation, if you could call it that, continued as he tried to ask me for my phone number and i told him that i didn't have one.

then, the ultimate point of this entire glorious experience was the cheek kiss. i offered my hand and he went in for the mothergrabbing kill. BO and chinese food and overall disgust and frustration for having to decipher meaningless dribble for the past thirty minutes was coming at my face.

when it was over i almost ran into the chain link fence.


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