Walking all the way back home from the pub quiz in Robertson Quay tonight, 4-5kms - a good hour of solid perambulation for E@L, if he can make it*. Much better shoes and sandals, lots of drugs for his bad feet and the determination to get more exercise after the shame and dishonour of wasting his recent Japan ski-trip (only one day of five on the slopes) because of his damnéd cardio-pulmonary impotence...
E@L has been pumping the asphalt (or doing c-p stuff in the gym; HR at 125bpm or so) every day, mostly, for the last two weeks. And is off the grog. It's merely a matter of willpower, of becoming the person who you have chosen for yourself to be in the power of visualizing... yada yada. He's on a diet and a get fit kick. Maybe it's the massive negative incentive of having committed to give $5k to a cause he detest (maybe some TCM university studying how best to exterminate endangered species for fun and profit when aspirin or Viagra would work just as well - sorry, I mean would work; maybe the Scientology nutters...) if he can't knock 10% off his body-weight in three (3, count 'em) months. Bruce is holding the signed cheque and will make the decision about where the money goes. Seriously, no muckin' abart...
OK, fine. But why walk so far so late at night? It's near enough to 11pm, for crying out loud. Who in their right mind would stay out this late? Get home and get to blog.
Or *no* taxis, more like. Never any taxis when you need them; you can wait in the queue as long as you like, hang on the phone as long as you like, send as many SMS bookings as you like. Nuh. None. Zip. Nada. Fuck it, may as well head off on shanks' pony, in civilian clothes, man-bag over shoulder, see if he can make it all the way again, as he managed last week.
But the first serious bit of effort comes quick: the small hill that comes up from Mohammed Sultan to River Valley Rd. Know it? Maybe 200m of mild incline, perhaps 5deg. Not much, but it's nearly enough to have him clutching as his chest, screaming for a Code Blue! E@L's calves are burning just a bit more now as he treads firmly, refusing to slow down (he's walking at snail's pace orredy lah!), keeping that old ticker, um, ticking over, when...
In front of one the older condos, by the driveway at the gate, are several - five, six - women. They are dressed pretty damn fancy; LBDs, CMF boots, draped in lights scarves, extremities be-ringed and be-bangled, ungulates adorned with painted-on scenery and pasted-on jewels. These ladies are not coming home from somewhere, they are heading out. Faces are made-up to show off high cheekbones, even if there aren't any high cheekbones, eyelashes and eyebrows trimmed to augment the double eye-lid, the almond eyes, the exotic mien.
E@L feels he should be impressed with the effort that they have gone to.
All are smoking. Two are talking to each other with the precise clipped tones of Beijing Mandarin (it's hard to tell if the words are friendly or not); the others are standing alone, looking away, looking for the taxis that E@L couldn't find either. They appear hard, arms folded across their chests; harsh; they look older in the streetlight than they will; dim lights and alcohol will make them appear gorgeous in the early hours in the Japanese karaoke bars (they speak fluent Japanese, can drink sake and Chivas and sperm till the sun comes up) or in the dim black-light glow downstairs in Brix (at The Hyatt). Mainly they stand apart, they see enough of each other thanks, sleeping six to a room.
E@L plods past determinedly, almost breathless. Here's another condo, here's another pride of lionesses. None of them appear to notice him. These are not girls on the prowl for expats on the street; E@L is not part of tonight's Target Demographic.
Maybe it was the way he pulled at the crotch of his sweaty underpants, new rash on the burn, phew, still going uphill, that said to them: "Not me, honey. At least not tonight."