Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Jungle

In the original Tarzan story, the boy raised in the jungle by apes (by the way, not gorillas, apes) is discovered by people from England and carried back there to deal with reintegrating into the society of his heritage. He deals with his "civilized" rivals using philosophies developed during his basic struggle to survive in Africa and, eventually, exposes the high society types as being more brutal and primitive than his animal friends.
In later books, Tarzan goes back to the jungle to continue kicking ass, loincloth-style.
I remember a passage where Lord Greystoke gets off the boat and steps off into the dense underbrush. He feels it like an embrace. He is rejuvenated. His civilization-dulled senses sharpen and his primal strength returns.
After shaking off his exile in England, he is free.
My training session on Thursday was in Charlotte, which is about an hour and a half from where I live.
More importantly, it was in downtown Charlotte.
Like most downtown areas, it has extremely tall, nicely maintained buildings surrounded by urban squalor.
The streets are all one-way and road construction clogs most of them.
A flood of oblivious pedestrian traffic slows everything except the sense of urgency of the other drivers.
Parking is hidden in underground burrows where cars seem to lair, slowing ticking out the heat of their recent frantic journeys.
Arriving into this at 8am Thursday morning was like Tarzan returning to the jungle.
Instantly, I became aware.
The co-worker in the passenger seat became concerned having most likely never seen a predator move through his natural environment.
"We have the address of the hotel but they didn't tell us where to park," he said.
"No problem," I said,"I know the way."
Even though I'd never visited this particular metropolitan center, I found a garage like a great cat would find a watering hole.
"That's not a crosswalk," he called out from behind me as I stepped off the curb inches behind the speeding trolley. I slapped the bail bonds sign on the back casually, close enough to not need to extend my arm the completely before it sped out of reach.
"This isn't the way to the seminar," he complained.
"No," I answered,"It isn't." I stepped into the lobby of another hotel and crossed to the back side, arriving in line at the unmarked Starbucks a step ahead of a pack of tourists who were delaying themselves looking up at the tall buildings.
"You've gone all weird," he muttered.
"Do you want a latte or not?"
"Yeah," he grudgingly answered,"Low-fat, no foam."
"No problem," I smiled grimly,"They know me here."

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