Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Revenge of the Ninja

Two years ago I was at the club lazing about in the hot tub. It was nine thirty at night. Maybe it was ten. Late enough that I was the only one in the hot tub. The club where I go has this giant tiled Jacuzzi in the center of the men’s room. It’s nearly Roman in it’s layout. Right next to it is the steam room. Huge plumes of steam come wafting out every time some naked elderly man steps in or out of the steam room. That’s right, elderly. At this time of night nearly every guy at the club is – at his youngest – sixty-five.

So I was surprised when a young guy walked in in his swimsuit and started doing karate chops at the steam room door. He was maybe in his mid-twenties. Had a buzz cut. But it was his eyes I noticed first. They shouted crazy. You know when someone has those bugged out eyes and the muscles all around them are bunched up and you just know this person is about to go postal – those eyes.

This guy does his karate kicks. Perhaps they were Tai-kwon-do. I’m not good at identifying martial arts. Just little kicks at first. These are soon followed, however, by big roundhouse kicks. Kicks that take him off the slippery tiled floor. In between the kicks he falls to the floor and starts in on serious push-ups. He does maybe twenty and then gets back up and starts roundhouse kicking the air again. Each kick and each drop to the floor for push-ups is punctuated by a grunt or an expletive. Usually it’s something like Mutherfucker or Assfucker or Bitchfucker. Anything ending in a fucker.

I kind of just hang out in my corner of the hot tub. Peek at the karate guy out of the corner of my eye. Trying not to act suspicious. Trying to act natural. Just a guy sitting in the bubbles. Sweating. Relaxing. As the show goes on I start praying that someone else will come into the hot tub room and break the uncomfortable silence. But this urban ninja doesn’t really seem to take notice of me. He just keeps doing his kicks and his push-ups and grunting his fuckers.

He’s there for maybe five minutes when things really start getting hairy. His roundhouse kicks get bigger. More air. And he starts traversing the entire length of the room from one end of the hot tub to the other. He doesn’t break for push-ups now. Now it’s just him being Sho Kosugi. And now every kick is highlighted by a shouted MUTHERFUCKER or ASSFUCKER or BITCHFUCKER or the new one FUCKFUCKER. And that’s when I start thinking about getting out of the hot tub.

But the thing is I can’t. See, now the ninja has his crazy ass eyes on me. He’s kicking and sweating buckets and cursing and the whole while he’s watching me. And I can’t help but think now that he’s some Iraq war vet who went nuts kicking the shit out of insurgents and he’s back to tear the shit out of the club and anyone foolish enough to be in his insane way. So I’m stuck there. Like a deer in headlights. He’s whirling around kicking the walls that are wet with his explosive ninja spittle and I’m thinking of escape.

That’s when the old Asian dude walks in. I think he’s Korean and he’s there every night. Usually with his son. He walks in. Looks at the ninja who has now stopped kicking and is pacing back and forth like one of those sad bears at the zoo and the Korean shakes his head. That’s when the ninja leaves. Not in a huff. Not with any outburst. Just quietly leaves. The Korean guy gets in the hot tub next to me and he sighs and says, “Crazy fucker.”

Flash forward to yesterday. Noon at the club. I’m in the shower and in the stall across from me is a man shouting at the top of his lungs MUTHERFUCKER and ASSFUCKER and BITCHFUCKER. I didn’t see him. The curtain was drawn but the voice didn’t leave much to the imagination. The ninja has returned…

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