Eighth Day Naming Ritual
“Hello Space Alien,” says television show host and former footballer Gary Lineker.
I sign back to him: “Hello television host and former footballer Gary Lineker,” and bow my head, “it’s nice to meet you.”
The interpreter is watching me carefully. My BSL is rudimentary. I’ve only got four fingers on each hand, and my prosthetics are still in their early stages of development. Two hot-dog sausages hot-glued to leather straps, articulated with some thin steel rods and a series of pulleys fashioned from dental string. The pulleys are attached to my antennae beneath my bonnet. The sausages are delicate and appeal unfavourably to dogs and gulls. I’m waiting on a delivery for ballistic gel so that I can create a more durable prototype of the prosthesis at a later date.
“So, Space Alien, why don’t you speak?”
This seems a particularly pertinent question among humankind. The translingual art of sign language has not yet been adopted by this race.
They are socially and technologically primitive, but their developments in the entertainment sector are staggering. At home we only have two kinds of music: Go to sleep, child music, and remember equations music. They provide a utility. Music here is endless. It comes in droves. They know the good sounds are finite and that the variables will eventually be replicated, and then they have big arguments over copyright laws when two people have a similar song; the currency spent on the trial often exceeds the circulating cash of a small country.
“I can speak,” I tell him. “I just want to make sure all kinds of people can understand me.”
Gary Lineker is very surprised, and my interpreter seems upset. She folds her arms.
“Sorry interpreter,” I sign. “Would it be better if I signed and spoke?” I ask out loud.
Gary Lineker shrugs. “Linda gets paid either way. Lucky Linda!”
The audience laughs.
“Lucky Linda,” I repeat. “She will be salaried at the same rate but can conserve her efforts and time for another task entirely. Perhaps, even, a task of leisure. If only we were all paid for leisure.”
The audience laughs again. I see Xuě Huā in the audience, clapping her hands excitedly.
“So, Space Alien. We’re getting a bit tired of calling you that — Space Alien. Wouldn’t you rather be called something else?”
“Space Alien. It is accurate. I suppose that at home it would be rather inconspicuous.”
“Oh, definitely. But it’s not you, is it? I mean, you’re such a fun little guy. Does ‘Space Alien’ express you, as a person?”
“Does Gary express you as a person?”
The Audience chuckles. Gary addresses them with a smile, and throws his thumb back at me. “This fella,” he laughs.
“Look, Space Alien, we put a poll on twitter.” The screen behind him slides from an image of outer space to a pie chart. “We had a lot of great suggestions,” says Gary. “There was a clear winner though. Shall we see? Shall we find out what Space Alien’s new name is?”
The audience cheers. “Drum roll please...”