Tuesday, April 24, 2007

An interview

This came to my attention first through Contrary, then through Chili. I thought it was a neat variation on the meme theme, so I asked Chili if she'd do me. Here’s what she sent…

Chili: It's actually kind of hard to think up good, provocative interview questions. Feel free to change/alter/toss any of these in favor for something that has a more fun answer...

No, I’ll go with the questions you asked. It would seem somehow impertinent to change them, even for the sake of comic relief.

Chili: What's the DUMBEST thing you've ever KNOWINGLY done? What were the consequences?

Oh, wow! Well, I suppose the first thing that’s popped into my mind qualifies as the winner. There’s a little bit of background, though, so bear with me. First, it’s important to understand that this was done with full intention, after carefully considering all sides of the issue, and is an excellent example of making the wrong choice precisely because you actually stopped to do that.

Not long after I moved to Las Vegas, Cirque du Soleil came to town. They opened up their first show outside of Canada at the Mirage, and it was a bit of a risk for them. At that time, they were a bit of an unknown, so there were no guarantees their kind of entertainment would take off in Sin City. They decided to post a huge number of positions through the casino to help get the show off the ground, one of which was a “liaison and interpreter” to the acts in the show.

I came across an opening with them during a random sweep of ads in the major casinos, looking for something stable and sedentary because I was doing a lot of cycle training at the time and I wanted to continue to be able to do that. The job required a French speaker (additional languages a bonus), would go with the performers to the various public appearances they were required to attend and provide simultaneous translation, and would also see to whatever needs they had during their off duty time. It paid pretty well to start and I had just the right qualifications for this position. I applied, and they offered me the job.

This job offered amazing possibilities for interaction with an intensely creative and driven group of people, work an innovative, growing organization that now has shows all over the world. Cirque du Soleil recruits performers from all over, and the chance to speak (really speak) not just French, but Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, but any others I might be inclined to learn additionally would have really challenged my gift for languages in a way I haven’t been able to do since college. It was just the right job, so you can imagine what happened, right?

I turned it down.

I still kick myself in the ass for that decision.

Chili: If you had to give up one of your senses, which would it be and why?

Hmmm… Well, I can certainly say that I would keep my sight. I may be all manner of colorblind, nearsighted and afflicted with Graves Disease, but I rely a lot on my sight and to be without it would be a difficult transition for me. I also rely on my hearing quite a bit, too, so that has to stay. I think it would be dangerous for me to lose my sense of touch (hell, I do myself enough harm even having it), so I’ll keep that out of concern for safety. That leaves taste and smell.

I think I’d keep smell and lose taste. I really like food. I like cooking it, presenting it, eating it, savoring it; but, thinking about it, so many of the lasting memories I have of food do not sit in my taste memory as such. They come from the smells. I can close my eyes and instantly call to mind the smells of any number of wonderful things: Coffee, fresh baked bread (from a patisserie in Paris, which also has its own particular redolence), and garlic in olive oil are just the first aromas from a kitchen that make my mouth water. But smells go so far beyond the kitchen. There’s the earthy scent of a warm spring evening (we had one of those just yesterday and it was exquisite). There’s a special type of perfume that I can detect in a crowd which will instantly call up the memory of someone I remember who wore it. There’s even the smell manure from a nearby farm that I think of fondly because it reminds me of the experience of growing up on a farm.

Take my taste buds, then. Maybe then I wouldn’t care if I ate cereal with milk that was just that little bit past fresh. As long as it wasn’t curdled. Then we’re into the whole texture thing.

Chili: If you could go back in history to be a witness to any one event,
which would it be and why?

Oooo! A good question, that. I’ll say that it’s one probably better asked of my wife, the history person in the house, but let me think a minute.

I guess there are several contenders, but here are two:

I’d like to see an instance when Jesus performed a miracle, but not so I could debunk it. I like that there is such a thing as mystery, and I’m comfortable with not knowing exactly how it was done. The thing I’d want to see was how the event unfolded, from the crowd assembling, to the fishes and loaves coming out of nowhere, to the afterglow, to the disciples telling everyone the show was over and to go the hell home (after passing the hat for tips). It would just be an enlightening sort of event to see in person.

I’d like to see the meeting of the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. I’ve had the opportunity in my life to interact with indigenous people in Brazil (I spent a week with a tribe in the middle of the rainforest—STRICTLY illegal for foreigners without permits!), and I have a sense for what it must have felt like to meet people with whom you could not communicate in any real way. How unnerving must it have been for both sides to see each other for the first time! The Wampanoag probably had in their oral history some encounters with European settlers (the Vikings, after all, landed several hundred years before the pilgrims did), but can you imagine what it was like to see them for real, looking all ratty and destitute, and clearly having no idea what the hell they were doing? From a sociogical perspective, that would have been interesting!

Chili: What is your superpower, and how do you use it for good?

Neat that you asked this, because my students are doing a unit on superheroes and powers in the next couple of weeks!

I have, since my early youth, known I’ve had great reflexes and an almost uncanny ability to instinctively react to things before they happen. I am very good at seeing patterns and relationships, and I think this comes in part from being able to recognize what I see know in what I have seen before. I suppose this would translate to an ability to see just a little bit into the future to see context and consequence—a kind of augury, if you will, that can tell whether a particular action will bring good or bad results in the immediate future. I’m not thinking about being able to predict far into the future, per se (I’m not sure I’d want that pressure), but to see a little ahead would seem a reasonable superpower, based on who I am.

I think the best use of this power for good is an advisory capacity. I don’t mean that I would necessarily prevent people from experiencing natural consequences for their actions, but rather to prevent innocent suffering where possible and to encourage everyone to stop and consider the question of “What happens next?”

I should note here that it might have been nice to have this superpower when I was offered the job at Cirque du Soleil. I might still have turned down the job, but at least then I’d be able to say it was for some reason other than BECAUSE I WAS STUPID!! ACK!!

Chili: When you're an old man, what are the young 'uns going to roll their
eyes at you for saying all the time?

Oh, Christ Jesus, there are so many things! I know that people already roll their eyes when I say, “So, I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. Which do you want to hear first?” I’m betting it’ll be that.


OK. Now it’s your turn! Here’s how it works:

Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me” or something like that, and either include your email (if I don’t already have it) or send it to: wayfarerbrian AT comcast DOT net.

I’ll email you five hopefully provocative, entertaining questions. There’ll be different questions from the ones I’ve answered here (that’s the beauty of this!)

You update your own blog with the answers to the questions I sent, and include an explanation of how this worked with an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

When other people comment on your blog asking to be interviewed, you get to ask them five questions, and the process evolves.

I leave it to you, then!

PS: Thanks, Chili! That was fun!

1 comment:

mrschili said...

It was fun reading these! I can TOTALLY see why you are still smacking your forehead at turning down the Cirque job. Ugh. I can just imagine....!