Friday, June 25, 2010


Early morning runs afford even the drowsiest of athletes avenues of inspection that otherwise remain the domain of the peeper lurking behind the proverbial bush. Even the occasional light glowing dimly in the upper-floors of a modest two-story home at such an early hour are flashing signals that initiate the most illicit of suspicions: What is one doing up at such an hour? (The runner himself rarely asks such a question; he knows what he is doing.) Who are they doing it with? And do any of their intimates suspect the truth? All of these thoughts remain as vivid and as red as a flashing NO VACANCY sign when one is forcing the body to do what only minutes before sleep disavowed. Views from the street gain perspective and weight the earlier one runs.

Alas, the handful of lights spotted this morning in homes here and there likely allude to nothing more than the anxious patriotism of a world at war amidst football's greatest fields. Japan playing Denmark. Japan loses, Japan leaves. Japan wins, another day is won, too -- as if the sun itself would dim, then darken, if the national team left South Africa in an early exit that only confirmed the country's suspicions that they are not up to snuff at this level of play. (If such passion and pressure can still be deemed 'play'!)

Teens and college students staying up late, planning to skip school. Salarymen staggering in from the last train home only a few hours before, saying 'fuck it', grabbing a beer and flipping on the TV, another sleepless night a necessity when the World Cup demands one's full attention. Housewives with nothing better to do decide to stay asleep while their spouses and children do what men are born to do -- root.

On this morning, unlikely it is that any steamy alliances are the source and the light behind those glowing bulbs I spy in a collection of houses that serve as feeble illumination against the dominant dark. Physical passion gives way to sport. A round ball kicked repeatedly half a globe away by young men far from home keeps the country alive and alert. Empires rise and fall upon such traditions -- as do electricity bills, on certain summer nights.