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