a tip of the hat to h.r. giger

a tip of the hat to h.r. giger

T

oday, all three space helmets were carried into class in anticipation of next week’s fourth grade plays. Roy wanted to drag the lot of them in yesterday (“But we’re still having dress rehearsals!” he pleaded), but I told him that he would have to wait. Together, they are more than even a highly-motivated 10-year-old can handle.

Painted, intermittently repaired, cut open and glued onto, the finished products were on display for a family viewing in the middle of the dining room table. Scott depressed the light on the front of one of the helmets. It glowed.

This is for deep space exploration,” Scott said. “Where the monsters live.”

Roy nodded knowingly.

Theories were put forth about what some of the wires affixed to the helmet surface might do. Maybe the oxygen tank connected here and the communications system connected there? Scott laughed at our wide eyes and our slightly open mouths, each of us caught up in a world where these helmets had purpose beyond props in an elementary school science fiction play.

“You were excited when they were just paper mache balls,” Scott said. “Didn’t you know they’d be even more when they were finished?”

But I didn’t know. I didn’t see how much wilder and funnier and weird they would have grown after a week’s gestation, once four bottles of silver spray paint and a bag’s worth of good flour (that I should have hidden until after this project was over in order to cook with it) had done their work.

Sometimes it’s nicer to be surprised than to just know. I am so glad that I have yet to lose my capacity to do so.