Wednesday, December 8th: Pretend to be a Time Traveller Day 2010.
Yes, it’s that time of year again! International Pretend to be a Time Traveller Day 2010! Yes, all Wednesday, participants in this event will pretend to be a time traveller visiting the current era. The only “rule” is participants must never tell anyone they are a time traveller. I’ve more or less successfully pretended to be a human being for decades, so this should not only be a snap, it will be a refreshing change. I plan to photo-document my visit to 2010 from a dystopian post-apocalyptic future. Here are details and suggestions from the originator of this event:
Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day (As described by Dresden Codak)
You must spend the entire day in costume and character. The only rule is that you cannot actually tell anyone that you are a time traveller. Other than that, anything’s game.
There are three possible options:
1) Utopian/cliché Future – “If the Future did a documentary of the last fifty years, this is how badly the reenactors would dress.” Think Star Trek: TNG or the Time Travellers from Hob. Ever see how the society in Futurama sees the 20th century? Run with it. Your job is to dress with moderately anachronistic clothing and speak in slang from varying decades. Here are some good starters:
- Greet people by referring to things that don’t yet exist or haven’t existed for a long time. Example: “Have you penetrated the atmosphere lately?” “What spectrum will today’s broadcast be in?” and “Your king must be a kindly soul!”
- Show extreme ignorance in operating regular technology. Pay phones should be a complete mystery (try placing the receiver in odd places). Chuckle knowingly at cell phones.
2) Dystopian Future – This one offers a little more flexibility. It can be any kind of future from Terminator to Freejack. The important thing to remember is dress like a crazy person with armour. Black spray painted football pads, high tech visors, torn up trenchcoats and maybe even some dirt here or there. Remember, dystopian future travellers are very startled that they’ve gone back in time. Some starters:
- If you go the “prisoner who’s escaped the future” try shaving your head and putting a barcode on the back of your neck. Then stagger around and stare at the sky, as if you’ve never seen it before.
- Walk up to random people and say “WHAT YEAR IS THIS?” and when they tell you, get quiet and then say “Then there’s still time!” and run off.
- Stand in front of a statue (any statue, really), fall to your knees, and yell “NOOOOOOOOO”
- Stare at newspaper headlines and look astonished.
- Take some trinket with you (it can be anything really), hand it to some stranger, along with a phone number and say “In thirty years dial this number. You’ll know what to do after that.” Then slip away.
3) The Past – This one is more for beginners. Basically dress in period clothing (preferably Victorian era) and stagger around amazed at everything. Since the culture’s set in place already, you have more of a template to work off of. Some pointers:
- Airplanes are terrifying. Also, carry on conversations with televisions for a while.
- Discover and become obsessed with one trivial aspect of technology, like automatic grocery doors. Stay there for hours playing with it.
- Be generally terrified of people who are dressed immodestly compared to your era. Tattoos and shorts on women are especially scary.
And that’s it. Remember, the only real rule is staying in character and try to fit in. Never directly admit you’re a time traveller, and make really, really bad attempts at keeping a low profile. Naturally, the dystopian future has a little more leeway. And for the record, I’ve already tried out all of these in real life, in costume. It is so much fun you want to pee yourself.
Cool, eh? I kind of found out about this late, so my costume is going to be pretty ad hoc. On the plus side, I’m in Berkeley so I won’t stand out, people are used to odd dress and behaviour. So I won’t get arrested or shot for acting weird in public. And if I do, well, it will make a great blog post. Well, getting arrested would work, getting shot part isn’t a sacrifice I want to make for a blog post.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, etc. It’s a picture taken at a bridge re-opening in British Columbia in 1940 or 1941. I’m not sure of the actual copyright holder, but it came from this site: Virtual Museum of Canada. Why did I use this image? Because according to some people, an actual time traveller can be spotted in the picture! Can any of my esteemed readers spot the putative time traveller?)