Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Opera Man vs Boss Communist

We've settled into our new apartment quite nicely.  It's located on the faculty housing campus of Ocean University.  The actual university is located about 20 km outside of town, but a lot of the faculty live here in the city.
It's a gated community of sorts with a bunch of 8-10 story walk up apartment buildings, a quiet street with speed bumps, and a big sports park with tennis courts, basketball court, croquet court, exercise devices and a track.  Our sixth floor flat overlooks the park.  It's very quiet and peaceful during the day and night, but early mornings and evenings are a different story, and the area becomes a noisy hive of activity.   
Around 6:00 am the first fitness fanatics come out.  These folks tend to be somewhat quiet, but the noise gradually increases as more people come out.  There are joggers, Tai Chi groups, dancers, and geezers on the exercise devices.  Music comes on the PA system from somewhere.  The music is on some kind of timer, and consists of the exact same Chinese classical songs every day.  It's pleasant, nondescript,  flutey stuff, kind of generic.  However, at 7:30 comes the piece I call "Opera Man".  It's a 10 minute number which features a little bit of chorale work broken up by a baritone soloist singing the same phrase that ends on a long E note.  This phrase occurs frequently in the song.  The same music is played in the evening, so that if you are not sick of "Opera Man", you soon will be.  I find now that the E note brings out in me a kind of loathing usually reserved for Justin Bieber or Rush Limbaugh.  Other than "Opera Man", I rather enjoy the activity and noise, especially the kids playing in the evenings after school.  It's nice to hear joyful noise from them.  It shows that their souls haven't been completely crushed by their long, grueling school days.  Of course, it's just a brief respite before they go home for dinner and 3 hours of homework.
When we first moved in, I heard some angry shouting coming from outside.  It sounded pretty serious, like something that would lead to blows or hacking.  I ran out to the balcony and looked down and saw a couple of septuagenarians, a man and woman, nose to nose, hollering at each other about (and I am not making this up) croquet!
They worked things out and continued the game, with the man shouting out whatever the hell he had to say throughout the game.  There is a group of geezers that play every morning below us on a sand court and they give the same enthusiasm to croquet as others might to a pick up basketball game.  Or hockey.
The main yeller is an old guy that seems to think he is some kind of Bobby Knight croquet meister.  He uses the same tone and volume that he probably used in his younger days when he was denouncing someone, and he struts around the court shouting instructions, encouragement, or abuse.  I call him Boss Communist.
One morning, I noticed it was quieter than usual, and walked out to see if anyone was playing.  They were, but B.C. was nowhere to be seen,  the Red Queen King was not there!  People were chatting in normal tones, broken up with some polite chuckles, just like normal croquet.  What happened to him?  Did someone poison his tea?  Did the neighbors complain?  Was he banished to a work camp?  A week went by, much more quietly until one morning, when a shout was heard.  I looked out and saw him, looking a little less cocky, and with a bandage on the back of his hand, indicating that he had been under the weather and had gotten the requisite IV treatments needed for whatever knocked him down.  Within a few days, he was back in full noise.  Hockey/croquet has resumed.