E.T. And Me!
A really good part of my day was riding my bicycle dressed like a 10-year-old boy from California carrying a hooded extraterrestrial in his front basket.
The best part of my day was how I got there.
Last month I was off ill for few days and some friends at work—Aminah, Michelle, Barry, Lana, Stephanie, Brian, et al —used my absence as my tacit agreement for their scheme to raise money for the United Way. If enough money was raised, I, in absentia, agreed to dress up like Elliott from E.T. the Extraterrestrial, put a stuffed E.T, in a milk crate, and cycle to work and then pedal through downtown Edmonton at lunch in character, with the cute character aboard. Forget for a moment the truth that I was bronchitised to the gills during the hatching of the plan. A good idea is a good idea.
|E.T. and moon, Parkview|
But I don't have a red hoodie, I said. But I don't have a milk crate, I said. But I don't have an E.T. doll, I said.
One by one, they appeared. Props to the my friends. Actually, props from my friends.
And then, like it was written in a script, the moon appeared.
The dark sky drew away like a curtain to leave swirls of purple and red and orange and blue, and that was the palette that coloured my ride in. Black birds wheeled and something somehwere in me followed, darting here, swooping there. It was a surreal scene above. I smiled.
Habituation, says Rushdie, places a dulling effect on our vision. We don't see the wonderful. It can erupt before our very eyes and we remain blind to it. That teaching, that warning came back to me as I turned the cranks that spun the wheels that, in my imagination, transformed my bicycle into some kind of fantastic movie projector that somehow brought to life that sky above and the trees and houses and people alongside and the pavement below. Everything, including the obsidian pavement, felt alive. It was surreal.
What was different about this morning's ride was the extraterrestrial I carried and the red hoodie I wore. It wasn't me, as in it wasn't the everyday me. It was the Halloween me. I am four decades north of being a 10-year-old boy. But, strangely, the role that I was playing made me feel more like myself than I feel on the usual days, the days without the milk crate and the hoodie and the E.T.
The fiction felt real. Wheel to surreal.
For that, I thank my friends. Because that kind of surreality just doesn't happen every day.
Thanks to Shelagh for the blanket, thanks to Kory and Lana for extra camera work, thanks to Aminah for the Jasper Ave pic, thanks to Barry for the hoodie, thanks to Neil for the closing shot in the video above!
Yes, the best part of my day were the people who got me there.