The Mischievous Nerd's Guide to World Domination
Author: Stephen Oberauer

Chapter 8
The violin player


We lived in the most beautiful area of Cape Town, Marina da Gama. It wasn’t the most upper class, because it was surrounded by lower class areas, but it was built around a lake with man made channels running along the houses. When one first moves into such an area one is completely amazed at how beautiful it is and spends every summery weekend canoeing around the houses and making the most of every moment. Our house was on the inside of a horse shoe shaped island, with a bridge over the lake to take you back to the main road.

I enjoyed going for walks at night. I would walk to the bridge, sit down, and just look at the stars, wishing that I had someone to share it with. The last house just before the bridge was a large double storey house. Sometimes when I’d walk past the house I could hear someone playing a violin in one of the upstairs bedrooms. Besides the occasional quack, bark and Egyptian Goose noise, everything was so quiet at night time that the violin was easy to hear from the bridge. If anyone had a party the sound would travel across the lake and one could hear it from anywhere.

It was the morning of 27 September 1997 and I decided to get up earlier than usual to catch the train to University. I had gotten used to seeing the same people on the train every day, so it was interesting to see a completely different crowd. While waiting for the train I sat on the bench underneath all of the rude graffiti and watched the people arriving, trying to figure out what their stories were.

I gave them each names. The man with the briefcase and the grumpy looking face looked like he could be called ‘Grumpy’. Grumpy was probably a business man, but tired because he had to get up early in the morning to go to work. Judging from his clothes, I guessed that he worked in an office, and judging from his face I guessed he didn’t have many friends. I mean, who would want to be friends with such a grumpy person.

The next person to arrive was Matthew Peters, judging by the name on his school bag. He had the same surname as my favourite programming lecturer. Perhaps he was related. He was wearing a Bergvliet High school uniform, so he obviously went to that school.

An elderly lady arrived, wearing a large and colourful bag. I wondered what she was doing there. She looked old enough to be retired. Perhaps she was poor and her husband was unable to work. She sat down and pulled out a box of cigarettes from her bag. I guess I’ll just call her ‘Gran’.

A gorgeous girl, with a very cute smile and long hair with blonde highlights, and a much taller boy arrived, also wearing Bergvliet High school uniforms and greeted Matthew. They called him ‘Matt’, so I assume I was correct about his name. The cute girl must have been a tennis player, because she had her Prince tennis racket with her.

As it got closer to 7am, many more people were arriving. The train arrived five minutes later than the scheduled 7am, and I waited for the Bergvliet bunch to get on the train, so that I could get on the same coach and spy on them some more. I sat just close enough to hear what they had to say. They spoke mostly about school work and people at school. They called the cute girl ‘Shelley’, and the other guy was ‘Greg’. Shelley sounded very excited when she spoke; it seemed that she was fun and friendly.

Being insecure I never spoke to strangers. I would just listen, and be especially eager to listen to people who had anything to say to me on the train. There had been some strange ones, like the old, scruffy man who called himself the ‘Rain Man’, who had a star chart and decided to tell me about myself. He told me that he also did marriage counselling. I was completely fascinated by the amount of rubbish that he had to say. He said that I should marry someone who’s born in September and that my stars showed that I was very brave, which I certainly was not. The other strange man who spoke to me started by saying that he guesses my parents are probably white collar workers and that he thinks I’m going to be an inventor. It seemed all the crazy ones believed they knew who I was, so perhaps I should have stopped trying to figure out who other people might be.

My life was full of coincidences, but maybe it was because I looked for coincidences so often that there seemed to be a lot of them, when really there was a completely normal amount. I mean, I suppose Shelley probably lived in the same suburb as me, since she caught the train from the same station, and I guess if it was any of the other people on the platform I wouldn’t have been surprised to find out that she stayed in the same road as me and just happened to be the one playing the violin in the house next to the bridge! This I discovered while I was walking home from the station one day and saw her walking into her house.

I’m trying really hard not to tell you about the rest of the coincidences that I discovered during my life, because there are so many of them that you’ll probably think that I’m lying.

From that day onwards, I got up early every morning in order to make sure that I skated past Shelley’s house at the time that I estimated her mom would be driving out of their garage to take her to the station. It was not often that I would get the timing perfect, but I soon became a familiar face and they would wave to me when I skated past.

About a month after discovering Shelley I was skating to the station and as I got closer to her house I noticed her standing outside, in her school uniform, waiting for her mom to pull the car out, so I picked up my skateboard and walked passed, in the hope that I would have the courage to ask for a lift to the station instead of just waving and skating past. When I got to her I managed to say ‘M-may I … umm …’ and lost the ability to speak, while pointing in the direction of the station.

‘Would you like a lift to the station?’ she asked.

‘Yes, please,’ I replied.

It was getting beyond ridiculous as I continued to skate past her house every morning and had fallen completely in love with someone that I not only didn’t know, but didn’t have the ability to speak to. I was lonely, and the most beautiful girl I knew of lived just down the road.

On the evening of the 25th of November, 1997, I watched a movie called, ‘Something about Mary’, a movie where a guy is in love with a girl for something ridiculous like 13 years and does nothing about it. I went for my usual evening walk and as I walked I thought about how ridiculous I was. Would I still be obsessed with someone after 13 years without that person having a clue about how I felt? I had to do something, so the next day I wrote her a letter.

It was a two page letter, which I had typed up on my computer, and added pictures to make it interesting. It wasn’t a sappy love letter, but just a friendly letter, explaining who I was, that I thought she was very pretty and asking her if she’d like a new friend. I didn’t have the guts to put it in her letter box, so I posted it to her. For the record you should know that in the letter, I requested a reply, whatever that reply might be. I needed to get her off my mind and even a negative reply would have been far better than none at all.

The week seemed to take longer than usual, and Shelley had not responded yet. How could I get her off my mind when I had to go past her house every day, not knowing if she even got the letter?


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