Monday, November 26, 2012
Theme Song to the Magnificent Seven
I had stayed up late watching cowboy movies in the hotel, just me alone in the dark with the sounds of little snores behind me and awoke early for a jog away from the shore, down the side streets of the little city of Kota Kinabalu, toward the bowery lands where the people rose from sleep in their mud huts and wooden shanty houses propped up on sticks.
I wasn’t meant to be there. The men in the cafes opened the shutter gates and dusted off the tables with scowls. The women in their bright scarves silent in the kitchens, bent over the sinks at work, glaring at me in the new sunlight.
I stopped to walk along a rain gully by the thick overhanging palms along a row of houses bright as gumdrops covered in decay. Children sleeping in hammocks. The buzz of antenna wires. The blades of grass so sharp, slicing into my legs. Then I started thinking about theme songs.
I know, it's a weird thought. I should have been thinking about all the reasons I didn't belong there. This world of poverty is not meant for a foreigner to see. Instead I was counting my own personal theme songs and how they have changed over the years.
“It seemed like a good idea at the time.” -Vin, The Magnificent Seven
What? You don't have a personal theme song? What's the matter with you? Everybody has a theme song. A show tune you belt out while dancing in the rain, and adventurous march rousing in your head as you plunge toward a flight of stairs or race down the highway... you know, a theme song?
Okay, maybe I'm just nuts, but here goes. For the longest time growing up, whenever I would mow the lawn or climb a tree or steady my bike atop a giant downward sloping gravel hill set to plummet into the abyss below... I would hear Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries in my head. Yep. Valkyries, man! Every time.
Of course, this was replaced years later, well after the movies had come and gone through the theaters, but when I was jumping trains and charging through Russian museums and sprinting up palace embankments of Chinese temples... I would blast Raider's of the Lost Arc in my ears. Yep, Indiana Jones, dude! Forever and ever.
“The old man was right. Only the farmers won. We lost. We always lose.” -Chris, The Magnificent Seven
Those two songs were my personal theme songs. I know, dork right? Don't care. But lately, as I jog through all these dusty Asian cities, past temples in ruins and rubbled mountain villages, in and out of third world countries time has forgot... a new song has appeared. Rowdy. Rough around the edges. Sonorous as the high plains and full of grit as a lowland gulch.
Yeah, I started singing you today, Magnificent Seven. It began as little snores in the dark and didn't stop. This remarkable adventurous life. Though the white undershirts hung on wire lines and the men paused over buckets full of rain with lathered necks set to shave. Though the women held babies to their waists and stared, and one man’s eyes said, “You do not come here. This place is not for you.” I just stared back, and let the music roll.