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the vast unicycle conspiracy   ...   100% true stories , unicycle
tue 2005-may-03 16:34:30 pdt   ...   permalink

This is getting kind of weird.

So last tuesday, as I was unicycling along at Stanford, one of the horde of bicyclists going the other way said to me, "Why are there so many people around on unicycles?" Not at all the type of question I usually get asked when I'm unicycling along. I looked at her kind of startledly and said, "uh, I wasn't aware that there were so many people around on unicycles!" There may have been more to the exchange than that, but not much, as we were going opposite directions. A little odd, I thought, but that's not the weird part.

Then at the regular Stanford wednesday-night juggling, Dave -- a math grad student who sometimes arrives at juggling on a unicycle -- told me about this column that he had read in the Stanford Daily, in which the author mentioned having seen a guy on a unicycle. He asked whether it might be me that the columnist was talking about, but since he didn't remember much about what she'd said, it was hard to tell whether it was. He said that since she hadn't said anything about the unicyclist in question wearing purple, he had figured that it probably wasn't me, though she did say something about the unicyclist "looking weird". Unclear whether merely being on a unicycle constitutes "looking weird". In any case, Dave was pretty sure it wasn't him that she'd seen. Okay, again, a little strange, but not really the weird part either.

On thursday I went and found the column that Dave was talking about. The column overall is something about how in spite of the fact that the author is normally very easy-going, she finds that when she's in her car she gets pissed off at other drivers surprisingly easily. Or something like that. Anyway, in part of it, she writes:

... last week there was a guy on a unicycle, pedaling down Junipero Serra while I waited at the light. I was amused and grinned broadly, communicating to him that his appearance was both unexpected and mood-lifting. As he rolled by, he made eye contact and dipped his head, as if to tell me "you're welcome."

It made me think that there are people who deliberately go around looking weird to make strangers happy. Then it made me think that there are people who deliberately go around looking weird to get an advantage in traffic. If only I were a cute, delightful spectacle, everyone else would smile and let me cruise on by.

Although I surely do nod my head at the many people (in cars or otherwise) who smile at me as I unicycle past, and although I certainly do go around looking weird in other ways too, I definitely was not pedaling down Junipero Serra in the last few weeks, so this can't have been me. But this still is not the weird part.

Then yesterday, for the first time, as I was unicycling along on campus, I ran into Dave on his unicycle -- I had run into him around campus a few times before, but never on his unicycle. Fine, but that's also not the weird part.

Because then today, picture this. As I'm unicycling along, I see a unicycle approaching. And it's not Dave. As we get closer, he gives me a little salute-style wave, and then just as we pass each other, I say, "Aha, you must be the one from that article last week!" He says no, but that he thinks there's a third one around. We briefly circle around each other and I tell him that I know a third one, who says it wasn't him either. So he replies, "well, then it must be you!" As we continue on our respective ways, I call over my shoulder, "Or there's a fourth!"

So the weird thing, which granted is perhaps not quite so weird as I have at this point built it up to be -- the weird thing is just, well, can there really be FOUR unicyclists at Stanford? And if so, why am I just now finally running into them (and all these people talking about running into them) all in a span of a week?

Of course, the not-very-interesting-but-probably-correct answer to that question is just that it's spring and so the unicyclists that have been around all along are simply more likely to be out and about on their unicycles. That or we're just on the verge of taking over the world, and I missed the memo. I guess that's probably it.

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reader comments on this entry:

wed 2005-may-04 12:26:35 pdt
posted by

lmao! what a great write up. haha.

fri 2005-may-06 17:19:50 pdt
posted by mellen22

One spring day on the Los Gatos Creek trail in Campbell I saw two unicyclists in the course of a half hour. I was beginning to think it was a conspiracy, but they all stayed home after that.

wed 2005-aug-03 15:58:34 pdt
posted by Jono

Hey Fred. Have not been to the site in a while. Unicycle conspiracies? Well... I have been doing a little unicycling this summer in Tilden Park with my friend. The ranger caught us and told us that we are not allowed on roads, foot paths, or even bike paths! I did not even realize he mentioned the last one since I cant make sense if it, but my buddy filled me in. Anyway, when I cruz around town people always smile or something like that, but not in the park. One day, we passed three separate groups walking on trails who all immediately began to hum/sing the same little circus ditty. Same folks, different reaction.

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