Thank you, all my sweet friends who helped me get GISH (Great International Scavenger Hunt) tasks done last week. (If you are unfamiliar with GISH, there is a good Wikipedia article linked at the bottom of this post.)
Many whose names I fear leaving off here did amazing things. Sylvia went to Niagara Falls with her husband on a date just so she could play “Carry On My Wayward Son” on a recorder at sunset. Adrienne organized a barbershop quartet BY COMPUTER to sing protest songs outside the Rayburn Building in DC. Lynn made Beyonce out of stained glass and enshrined her in the Temple of Arts and Sciences, while Lisa and Beth helped me hoist a “LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR” banner over an immigrant detention center hidden two hours from my happy home. There were others, too; thank you.
I didn’t finish out the hunt; events overtook and some quirks of conscience sent me back into rethinking why I’d wanted to do it. (Because for the past two years I had.) The team I was on were super-capable and had been together a long time, so communication between them was a kind of incredible shorthand this newbie never learned. Add in my confusion over some of the tasks being meaningful, others treating animals or people in vulnerable situations like props, and it just wasn’t for me.
For instance: dress a team member as a bull and have them brandish a GISH flag with a real matador in a real bullfight ring? No, nyet, never set foot in such a place, for shame GISH; fight BS not bulls. But actions sung to a children’s song, showing how to know when someone is having a stroke? Yes please. Taking day-old produce begged from a local shop to a homeless family out by the viaduct? Yeah, okay, but then let’s not worry about the quality of the photographs documenting the event. In fact, photographs are kinda rude. Saggy banner over the detention center? That’s because we thought we were going to get arrested. Someone was coming toward us and he was NOT happy.
The dynamics of the whole large hunt were weird. It was almost like being a wind-up toy set in motion for the amusement of some rich people who had nothing better to do than think up faux adventures. They would have had to be rich, because one of the tasks was to get en pointe ballerinas in tutus to paintball each other. If you REALLLLLLLLY want to piss off a dancer, ask her to dance en pointe for free. You don’t even have to add, “and by the way your shoes are going to get ruined” for good measure.
Life holds many real adventures. It’s a rich thing to know them for themselves. And yet, the hunt showed me new things. I now know where my local women’s shelter is (had to donate toys there, and we’ve been back since.) I know which of my online never-met-in-person friends are romantics, who the pragmatists are, and which outright quirky souls who will do anything for a laugh. It is very gratifying to have friends who will do anything (safe and legal) for you–or with you. The nice couple running Mason wing-walking school totally did us a huge favor for no other reason than being kind.
So it was a mixed blessing, participating in GISH. I won’t do it again, but it was a check on the bucket list that will never be matched. And I will cherish the feeling of lifting that banner for the rest of my life.
Read about the hunt’s origins here.