Day 180: Pretend to be a tourist.

tourist, n. One who makes a tour or tours; esp. one who does this for recreation; one who travels for pleasure or culture, visiting a number of places for their objects of interest, scenery, or the like.

I recently read Warren Ellis and John Cassaday’s “limited series” comic book, Planetary — and someday I’ll write a post about it — which is about an organization named Planetary, and specifically Planetary’s three-person field team, who are “Archeologists of the Impossible.”

Why do I bring this up? Because I am a tourist of the improbable.

Well, a tourist of the mildly improbable. Maybe even just a tourist of the coincidental, or slightly odd.

The thing about this sort of tourism is that there are improbable/coincidental/odd things everywhere you go, especially if your definitions of those terms are inclusive (not to say capacious), and if you’re willing to make much of out of very little. Also, because it’s tourism, it’s perfectly acceptable for an initial burst of enthusiastic interest to taper off quickly through indifference and into total forgetfulness (which has the added advantage of allowing one to notice the same oddity several times, without remembering that one has already noted it).

Today has, so far, been a good day for coincidences and oddities. As I was walking to campus, I met a one-armed man on the sidewalk: he was lying on the ground, looking sullen, refusing to move. I took him back to my office, and strung him up by his good arm. Then I took a picture.

My discovery raises, of course, a number of questions.

How did a Lego ninja end up on the sidewalk? How did he lose his arm? Where did his head-wrap go? Is he always so angry? Is whoever abandoned him on the sidewalk going to regret it, come back, find him gone, and fall into a weeks-long fit of uncontrollable weeping? Most importantly: Is he still going to be hanging on my corkboard when I come back to the office, or is he going to climb down, hide, wait patiently, and then kill me when I least expect it?

That last one seems really unlikely, which is why I’m the most nervous about it. One doesn’t devote one’s life to being a tourist of the improbable without seeing some improbable things, and an unsuspecting grad student being killed by a one-armed Lego ninja is pretty improbable, but not anywhere near the most improbable thing I’ve ever seen.

Maybe I should take him down and release him into the wild before something bad happens.

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