The Odd Shoes…

You can probably guess this already, but I am a big fan of unusual people. You know? The ones who set themselves apart, not intentionally, but simply by being themselves. Just to clarify, I’m not talking about the maniac flasher, or the guy who stares without blinking…that’s a whole different post.

The reason why I like the unusual, or ‘eccentric’ element – is that it invites questions; who, what, where? How, and why? And with these questions comes conversation, and from that comes a different perspective…

So with that in mind, it’s a shame that I couldn’t ask a young lady I spotted today all of those things; I mean she was a stranger for one, and then you have the language barrier to consider too…but anyway, here’s what happened:

I was on the subway, squashed in as usual as it gets so busy on the weekends. I had to stand in front of the people who were sat down, trying to tame my blushes as my mind went into a crazy fit shouting “YOUR GROIN IS AT THEIR EYE LEVEL! YOUR GROIN IS AT THEIR EYE LEVEL!”  I flicked through my phone…no WIFI…so I was just randomly looking at old pictures, or at least pretending to. I thought about turning around, so my butt would be in the seated grandma’s faces…perhaps that is better? But then I recognised I’d be face to face, groin to groin, with the grunting sweaty man behind me. So I stayed put. 

Awkward Look GIF

Someone did catch my eye though. She had a rather unassuming look, with typical Korean style clothing – that is to say colorful, and well put together. She was playing a phone game, like 99% of the other people on the carriage. But one thing stood out…you see…she had, well…odd shoes on…

…like…different shoes, not just an alternating colour. Completely different. I’m talking one New Balance, and the other Adidas. I looked away after I realised I had been staring for a while, and felt my face scrunch up involuntarily as I tried to make sense of what I had just witnessed. I had so many questions!? What’s the story there…?

Perhaps she couldn’t make up her mind? She wanted to wear both…so then she thought – well why don’t I?! Or perhaps she has a brother with one leg…and she always takes the spare? Well no, because then she would have two ‘right foots’ or two ‘left foots’ – that wouldn’t work. Erm…maybe she…I don’t know – I JUST DON’T KNOW!?

Make it Stop GIF

And the sad thing is, I’ll never know…her odd shoe story will go forever untold. UNLESS I SEE HER, AND THEN I AM TOTALLY ASKING – I’LL JUST USE BASIC SIGN LANGUAGE! (Point, point – shrug, shrug – point, point – shrug!)

www.facebook.coms/storytimewithjohn

www.youtube.com/storytimewithjohn101

Fight Club

I would like to think I am a lover, and not a fighter…after all, usually physical conflict doesn’t really solve much when you think about it. Obviously some people make it very tempting, but more often than not, non-peaceful ways to shut them the hell up, are somewhat frowned upon!  Naturally if your dear old Granny was being mobbed by a set of escaped rampant ostriches, you’re probably okay to get the broom out. But in most cases, you’re just likely to get yourself into trouble…

But I was forced to think about this by a guy today – and thanks to his inane question regarding the matter, I’ve been mulling over past bouts ever since…

I only really had one big proper fight at school – which is quite a feat as I went to an all-boys secondary in the North-East of England – not sure how I escaped, I guess I was very good at running away. Anyway, I used to be very embarrassed about its living memory – but now that I look back on it, it was a pretty funny situation, and one which I should have laughed off immediately – rather than getting all defensive about;  you know – blushing, and shrugging whenever anyone asked me about it.

Godfather GIF

But back then I lived even deeper in my thoughts than I do now, I didn’t express much, apart from between my nearest, and dearest – stifled by shame, self-consciousness, and a bitter embarrassment regarding just about everything (like, literally.) So this is the first time I’ve told the story to a larger audience…so please bear with me…

It all started on an unassuming school day. I was with my friends on the smaller courtyard, where you could largely avoid the manic hustle, and bustle of the main schoolyard – by which I mean footballs being blasted off your face at every juncture, and/or birds shitting on you in passing, as they scrabbled for the scraps of leftover sandwiches.

That’s not to say it was totally peaceful where we spent our break-times. It was still basically a war-zone…

Explosion GIF

Unwanted oranges, apples, and bananas (note: no chocolate was ever thrown) would fly from one end to the other – accompanied with blood-curdling cries, and bellowing swear word strewn sentences, that would even make Vinnie Jones wince.

On the day in question, it appeared to be particularly heated – and the various food items were flying with an increased ferocity. We huddled together, my friends and I, attempting to dip, and dodge any incoming missiles – before scraping them off the floor, and hurling them back. You could only pause momentarily to laugh, should it hit your target – because luxuriate in giggling for too long, and you can be sure that the dirtied tangerine segment would be SPLAT , back in your face!

Food Fight GIF

So it was quite a surprise when I was told that one of our sworn enemies (that day), now wanted to fight me…something about I had thrown a sloppy banana right off his forehead, and for whatever reason he wasn’t too fond of that fact. I didn’t even know who he was…so they pointed him out…of course, yup – just my luck – he was taller, and about four people wider than me. My friends didn’t care, the occasion had pumped them full of testosterone, and all of a sudden they wanted to see blood. A couple of them ran off to tell him I was up for it, as the others tried to make it seem like a great idea:

“He’s a year younger, man…he’s not even THAT big…well okay, he is…but you know – you throw like one punch, and then we all join in – then it’s like seven versus one! No worries  – YOU HAVE TO NOW!” 

NO! I wasn’t going to do it! No…but how to plot my escape out of this situation – could always go out the side-door, yeah…I began to walk away, with several friends still trying to convince me that it was a great idea – I wasn’t having any of it – “FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!” Someone randomly screamed to my complete horror, and disbelief – before I knew it a crowd had circled in, barring my way out – and there he was, this massive entity. There was no way out of this, I’d never live it down if I ran now…or perhaps I could fake a heart attack…nah, that’s be even worse probably. It was time to face the music. I turned to my fantastic friends, who had basically orchestrated this whole thing – the excitement level for them was clearly off the charts – on the other hand, I was so scared I felt like I may literally shit my pants.

Bloodthirsty GIF

I looked at my foe – clearly if he got his hands on me, he would literally murder me. One punch from him, and I’d be eating through a straw, for the rest of my life. Couldn’t let that happen. I’d obviously have to try some unusual tactics to avoid him caving my skull in with meaty fists. But what? I had no ideas, so just lunged in there – to no avail, thankfully he missed me too. I turned back to my friends, with a look that said “Jesus Christ – please fucking help you set of complete dickheads” – but no, they just made gestures for me to get a move on.

I was quivering with a fearful kind of excitement, everything was blurred in a mad frenzy – perhaps I would cry, that would be humiliating. Light bulb. I jumped in and booted him in the chest…I pretty much bounced straight off him, cue laughter from the blurs that surrounded me…I tried again, It was literally the only way I could think of to keep distance from this unnatural behemoth. It never worked, I just pinged back as if I was the pinball – and he was the strong flippers at the bottom. He attempted to grab me on numerous occasions, but never quite managed it.

So there I was – just flying in with useless kick, after useless kick. Like a demented version of Kung Fu Panda, but without any of the guile, or charm that makes him admirable. But I had no Plan B – I’d just keep trying this until a teacher would inevitably break it up…after all, there is NO chance any of the onlookers would do anything of the sort. That’d be way too mature, way too sensible.

“OI! WHAT’S GOING ON OVER THERE?!” 

“Oh, thank God” I thought to myself, with a sigh of relief:

Happy RElief  GIF

The crowd dispersed, in every direction – and we fled back to our respective corners. But there’s no real code, and soon someone, somewhere had snitched…and the teacher was over next to us, asking questions. “WHO WAS FIGHTIN’? HUH?”  Everyone insisted that nothing had happened, that he had been seeing things…“NO FIGHT? THEN WHY WAS THERE A MASSIVE CROWD? HMM?” One of my friends tried to cheekily claim that the crowd was to do with a Yu-Gi-Oh card, and that it was really rare, so everyone was crowding around to see…inventive, I’ll give him that – but the teacher didn’t buy it. And before long the truth came to light.

We were suspended for the day, the two of us. And while we waited for our parents, we had to sit together – which was awkward…I felt like at any moment he would smash my face through one of the glass cabinets, or at the very least strangle me to death with his banana stained tie. But he didn’t. Just stared at me non-stop, as I squirmed with unease.

Fortunately both my parents were out at work, so it fell to my Grandad to pick me up. Which was a lot less daunting. I slumped into his car, and he immediately wanted all of the details – did I get a good punch in? How big was he? etc, etc! I said he was massive, so I tried to kick him, but it didn’t exactly work out. I thought it best not to mention the fact that I was flying around like a terrible Hong Kong Phooey imitation. And that if I wasn’t so small, he would have probably crushed me to death…

Crushed Head GIF

Anyway, we drove on to my Grandparent’s house, where we had mountains of bacon sandwiches, and gallons of hot sugary tea. My Grandma fussed over me, as Grandmas do – whilst my Grandad made me laugh with Rocky impressions. Later on he called me up to his attic, where he showed me an antique crossbow he had kept hidden for years. “YOU BETTER NOT BE SHOWING HIM THAT CROSSBOW KEITH, IT’S DANGEROUS!” called my Grandma from the kitchen…

He lied, and winked at me – whilst trying to fight back a grin. Then we went back downstairs, and lounged around watching cowboy films for the rest of the day. I suppose in this life, you have to take the good with the bad – and this memory encapsualtes that message entirely for me…it was both the worst day, and the very best day. And for that reason I wouldn’t change it, even if I could. 

Well…perhaps…I wouldn’t have went with the lame kicking technique – would have been nice not to be labelled “Jackie Chan” for the rest of my school-days! But yeah, never mind…

www.facebook.com/storytimewithjohn

Indiana John

Due to recently returning to South Korea, (after a few months travelling in a few other countries) I found myself reminiscing on the previous year I had spent in this lovely place…and the certain comedy capers I got up to during that time. One in particular stood out, and that is the tale of Indiana John, I hope you enjoy it!

I had just enjoyed a lovely few days visiting the glorious Jeju Island, a semi-tropical paradise island which is a boat ride away from the mainland. I had went with a large travel group, which isn’t my usual way of doing things – but it is sometimes nice to let free of the reigns, and let someone else do all the hectic brain-work. Your guide tells you when you are all getting on the bus, when you will arrive, when you can take photographs, when you can pee, and so much more…after a while you feel a bit demeaned I am sure – but as a short term solution, it is strangely comforting not to have to deal with all of those irritating issues. You can just relax, and let it all go…

Relaxation GIF

So we were on our way home, the convoy of coaches had dropped us all off at the ferry terminal – and soon we would be shepherded inside, and told exactly what the plan was. Most of us were hungover, sun-burnt, and tired…in short, we had just had a brilliant few days (and we were now all suffering because of it!) As we made our way inside, the guide asked for passports, and ID cards…and got to work getting all of our tickets from the counter. There was some issue that caused there to be a huge delay, but remember I had let those reigns go so I didn’t pay much attention! Something to do with the numbers not matching, or the colours being different, or, well I have no idea – the guide seemed freaked out, in fact he appeared to have entered the realm of nervous breakdown – as he was frantically sprinting around the place from corner to corner, which I found to be doubly odd as we hadn’t even had lunch yet; so where he was getting this renewed energy from, I just don’t know.

Everyone appeared to make the decision to spread out, and dodge out of the way of his mad marathon dash. My friends found a quiet corner, and I popped to the store to get some drinks and snacks – to weather out this tedious wait with a little bit more joy. Others from the larger group had the same idea, or meandered around the shops looking for last minute relics, and souvenirs. I felt like some form of demi-god when I returned, as if there would be a harp playing, and a glowing golden halo around my head – after all it was a sweaty, gross kind of heat, and this was a stuffy and dirty kind of place. We ended up sitting on the floor with our bags as makeshift cushions, taking long slurps from our beer and occasionally pointing out the places people had caught the sun particularly badly. Of course I was the main topic of conversation – as it looked like I had just had a bare-knuckle fist fight with the sun, and lost.

“BLEURRRRGHH-BLEURGHHH-BLAHHH!”

A strange Korean man, who strongly resembled Taz of Tasmania, had just taken it upon himself to rudely interrupt our happy little scene. He was speaking in an odd tone that made no sense to anyone, worse still he was a heavy spitter – and we were drenched with a sloppy saliva shower every time he opened his mouth. As he used the wall to stabilize himself, he continued complaining…we looked at each other, in a don’t look at me, this guy is crazy kinda way, totally dumbfounded…hoping that one of us would be able to comprehend what his problem was, instead we all just shrugged at one another – we felt glued to the ground, as he lorded over us, spraying us with spit, and stifling us with his heavily alcoholic breath.

Bad Breath - GIF

A savior stepped in, thank the Lord! A short middle-aged Korean guy, put an arm around him, and spoke in soft tones, whilst guiding him away…he turned, and politely apologised on the drunk guy’s behalf – “no problem, no problem!” we all stammered, simply happy to be rid of him. The drunk man looked to have been sufficiently calm as he was walked away, but just when we began to begin our past tense “well that was weird” conversations, he BURST back into life! Pushing and shoving the other man, grabbing him by the scruff of his neck and wrestling with him, the man was largely powerless against his drunken flailing arms – our group began to shriek, and gasp – I stood up and ran over, dragging the two apart – and in doing so, I unintenitionally threw the intoxicated guy into the corner with a large crash!

Phew, that was intense. More exercise than I like to do on a Sunday…but necessary. I asked our savior if he was okay,  he rubbed at his throat – but assured me he was…the other guy seemed out of steam thankfully, and decided to stay put.

But…what was…what was that sound?

VVVVVVVVVUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Huh? Wait…“THE SHUTTERS ARE CLOSING?!” I heard someone scream – I suppose that in the scuffle, someone had smashed into the switch, busting it off the wall – and setting the roller shutter doors in motion…in a few short seconds they would close, and we would be locked in the small corner section we had settled in…locked in with the drunk belligerent lunatic! “IT’S CLOSING, GRAB YA BAGS, GRAAAAB YA FAAAAKIN BAAAAAAGS!!” People stared at me, seemingly not sure what I was going on about, they looked almost as clueless as the drunk guy who was still sat on the floor smirking at the whole situation…“COME ON, YOU ARE GOING TO BE LOCKKKKKED IN – FAACKIN LOCKED…URGH! NOW!”

Those who had snapped out of their daze ran under to safety, by the time I made it to the shutters there was only a few feet left before I would be entombed along with everyone else…I hurled the bags under, and did an awkward little roll. CRAAAASHHHH.

Indiana GIF

OH GOD…I’d made it…just. I opened my eyes, and stood up – the main section of the ferry terminal stared at me, people from the group…children, grandmas…all without a clue as to the crazy events that had just unfolded. That was until there was loud, petrified banging from the other end – then they started to pay attention!

Along with some other bystanders, we attempted to use the switch from the other side – but it was well and truly broken, and the mechanism would only go down further, crushing the metal into the ground…we had desperate conversations through the roller shutter door, which were made difficult as the offending mad bastard had decided he too would voice his opinion on the situation, through his typical grunts and growls.

Ten minutes or so had passed, we had tried to pull it up with the aid of ten or so men, but still no luck – we had called for security, and still they were not here…would they really just have to stay there forever?!

“It’s okay, guys…guys? We will get you out of there alright? Listen…guys?”

“Hi John!” Their voices sounded strange…and distant, it echoed around the room – they sounded so close, but they were so far away…

“I’ll get you out – we’ll get you out…I promise you…”

Crying Guy GIF

“JOHN!” they shouted againI began to reply, but was interrupted when I then felt a short jab to my ribs – I turned around to see them all stood there, shaking with excitement…but for the most part, okay. Well, alive at least. I thought I was seeing things, and was largely speechless, I kept pointing at the closed shutters, and back to them – they explained that security had a small door inside that section, just in case (does this happen all the time?!?!) – and that they had taken the drunk guy away, one would hope for a cup of tea, and a lie down; that’s definitely what he needed!

Just as we were happily reunited, the tour guide ran up to us, asking us where we had been – but not waiting for a reply – “COME ON, WE HAVE TO GOOOOO!” 

It was over as quick as it had all started…we spoke about it that night, checking again, and again with each other, just in case it hadn’t really happened…I had always secretly wanted to the Indiana Jones roll…but I thought that it isn’t a thing that happens in real life…well…one of the bucket list. Here’s to that! 

Like this story? Then why not like the Facebook page?http://www.facebook.com/storytimewithjohn YOU KNOW IT MAKES SENSE!