Oftentimes, being an alien is terribly wonderful. Me? I find it relaxing. It never stops being invigorating. It reminds me that I’m somewhere that isn’t home. Which is problematic, because my “home” doesn’t exist. The Soviet Union hasn’t existed since I was nearly a teenager. So it’s rather liberating to realise that there will never be a place in this world where I won’t be an ‘alien’. Knowing that makes life somehow more interesting. More colourful. It very definitely makes it much funnier, as was the case this past Saturday.
Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you why.
I went to a charity on Saturday evening, to help a friend’s aunt out. She had an operation, and now is walking, talking and strutting about as though she never had any problems. It was marvellous to see. But her operation was quite expensive, even by Australian standards. So of course, her family put together a charity and invited me to come.
Now, charities are usually far from fun. They’re usually quite the dour affair, serious and mature. And I just cannot do mature. Not for very long, at least. And when I am, it’s at events such as company meetings. Or my first meeting with the parents of the girl I’m dating. But I thought “this is clearly one of those serious, adult things that I’ve heard so much about”, so I wore my suit (which wikipedia tells me is ‘smart casual’, but which everyone else in the world seems to think is ‘business casual’). Yet wikipedia had images differentiating between the different kinds of ‘casual’, just to drive the point home firmly.
I showed up with my friend Noni, and realised all too quickly that I may have over-dressed. After being flattered by an older couple, and being told that I looked quite sharp, we settled in, after doing the obligatory rounds of hellos, how are yous, shaking hands, and of course, giving my boss the booklets that she left at work. I’m hoping she’ll remember that when the time comes to revue my salary grade.
Now, I love me my trivia, but what made the night stand out wasn’t the trivia (nor the all-too-easy Bond query) but rather, the events. In particular: dummy spitting. Now, you see, I can spit. I can spit quite well. When you’re a kid, you develop some truly fascinating skill sets to cope with the fact that you have to put up with adults and all their strange rules. So I learned how to spit really well. And so I thought “Yeah, this competition has my name written all over it!” So up to the stage I went. And got handed a pacifier.
I stared at it a minute. Clearly, someone had written the word ‘confusion’ on my face without my noticing, because the organiser of the competition asked what was wrong. “Well, why did you give me a pacifier?’
He tilted his head ever so slightly to one side. “What, you don’t call them dummies wherever you’re from?”
“Well, no. I’m accustomed to calling them pacifiers. I thought that, y’know, I was the dummy. A dummy who’d be spitting.”
Laughter followed, because the alien hadn’t known that the pacifier was called a dummy in Australia. Well no, I didn’t. Which is how I found myself on stage, in front of well over 100 people, pacifier in my mouth, attempting to spit it as far as possible. For charity.