Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dana Squared And The Dirty Orb

Over a month ago, while riding my bike to the park, I noticed that one shade in a row of outside lamps was missing. I wondered way too much about what happened to it. Every time I passed the building I looked to see if it had been replaced yet and it hadn’t. The lonely lamp became a landmark for me, slightly irritating, and intriguing in a boring way; the lamp shade had twisted itself onto my obsessive brain.
So, when I saw a dirty white orb floating in the pond at Washington Park I knew exactly what it was. It was just some nameless business building; nobody would even notice if it was replaced. Every time I rode to the park it was still there. Finally, I showed it to my friend Dana on a bike ride, and her enthusiasm about it pushed me to act. I edged down next to the water, but my arm was about eleven inches too short.
“We need… sticks,” I said, but the park wasn’t forthcoming. “A park has no sticks?”
Luckily, my cries of irony were heard. A man fishing nearby shouted, “There’s a fallen tree branch over there!”
Dana and I each grabbed a stick and hooked it into the shade which was heavy with water, and after a ridiculous struggle we succeeded reeling it in. I thanked the fisherman, explained my project, and asked him for a photograph, since he’d become a part of the project too, and he calmly agreed.

So, I poured out the smelly brown water, and attempted to wipe the slime from the outside of the shade, but it was stained a pale brown by what Dana dubbed the Easter Egg Effect. Whatever. After this effort, I didn’t care what it looked like; we were going to bring that damn thing back—somehow.
We spent about ten minutes attempting to rig the shade to Dana’s bike rack, using our cable locks. The shade kept popping itself out and escaping onto the sidewalk, while we laughed hysterically, and a passing couple, who were obviously entertained, stopped to ask us what we were doing.
“Oh we’re just trying to hook this to the bike,” and with my terse explanation they were off on their way.
Oops. The point of the project was to elicit curiosity and they were curious, but in all the excitement I had a brain fart and I’d responded in public default instead.
When we got back to the building and were replacing the shade, a thirty-something walked by with his lab. He stopped for a second and watched us struggle, then continued walking. I called out to him and asked him if he would take our picture. He took it, then asked us what we were doing. When I explained the whole story to him and got his picture, he said, “I was wondering what was going on… my landlord owns this building and I think she’ll get a kick out of this. Oh, and one more thing: is this a pay-it-forward kind of deal?”
I was taken aback because I hadn’t realized that this task was a good deed in someone’s eyes. It felt kind of neutral and or even silly, but certainly not noteworthy in any sense. But here it was: a good deed, and now for the unanticipated question: do I tell this guy that he’s required to pass it on?
“Nope. You don’t have to do anything; you experienced the moment with us and choose not to dismiss it—that’s all this is about.”
And that was the end of the task. My biggest problem was that I should have taken more pictures (if Dana hadn’t of been there I would have had next to none), but I know now for next time. It was incredible how every single person we who helped us had no idea what we were doing, but they agreed to help us prior to an explanation. I was having my doubts, but I feel like this may just be wonderful.

1 comment:

  1. I like how you kept your bike helmet on through some of the process. The pictures are priceless.