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So what is a newyorksubalien...

I’m a New York subalien. Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly legal – it’s just my loving other half, official alien that he is, comes with a so-called “supermodel” visa that apparently denotes him as one possessing extraordinary abilities (falling asleep within 5 minutes of sitting down in front of the TV, remembering only 2 of the 3 items on a mental shopping list and not knowing where the dishwasher tablets live after 2 years in our apartment are just some of his many talents).

The same visa leaves me extraordinarily unable to possess that most American of entities - a “social” i.e. a Social Security Number. Calling it a “social” makes it sound like the password to some party-filled, fun-packed lifestyle. That’s not far wrong as without these all-important 9 numbers, you pretty much can’t have a lifestyle at all - no bank account, no credit card, not even a driver’s license.

So what does a subalien do? Well, like over sub life forms waiting for evolution to give them a leg up on the ladder of existence, I have plenty of time to observe and these, dear reader, are my observations…..

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leaping with joy at an extra 24 hours on a new planet

As you start to get older and greener of the subalien tooth, you appreciate so much more any extra hours bestowed upon you. Little joys such as the clock going back in the winter or “gaining” up to an extra day when you fly west from our current planet.  But in both these instances there is always eventually the need to head in the other direction and I’m the first to feel (totally irrationally) shortchanged by ye gods when time goes against me.

So today – February 29th  or Leap Day - is a win/win situation for me. A whole “extra” day with no looming reversal of the clock to cast a shadow over my joy. It also makes me think back to previous February 29ths and how they represent our own interplanetary “leaps”. Our most recent two were in Paris but even that length of time was insufficient for me to learn how to even say “Leap Year” in French. I’ve just had to look it up and it is apparently “l’année bissextile”. Now I know it is all to do with Latin and “bis” and “sextus” but honestly, who is going to look at that word and not see something else. Especially given this is the nation that produced the marvellous term “cinq à sept” for post-work afternoon liaisons, niftily timetabling the hours between 5pm and 7pm for lovers’ rendezvous but still leaving time to be home for dinner. Please note, in French-speaking Canada, “cinq à sept” has a slightly different meaning – it is indeed a “happy hour” but of the bar variety. Just so you know.

I now have in my own mind how the nation of love may choose to spend its extra 24 hours. In Ireland, where we were in 2000, the thought process is still the same although the focus is more on managing to achieve the “sept à cinq” time slot. For according to lrish legend, on this day alone, young lassies in the Emerald Isle were allowed by St Patrick to propose to their young men; those not agreeable had to pay a forfeit which in olden times was a dress but in my youth had been reduced to a kiss. We explained the custom to Male Mini-me this weekend just in case - he was very disgruntled and expressed a desire to be living in olden times.

And then there was Brazil in 1996. I have to confess I also had to look up Leap Year in Portuguese, only to discover it was “ano bissexto” – think there is a pattern forming here? I also have to confess that I don’t actually remember that one as we were probably all recovering from the exertions of Carnival the week earlier.

So I have been looking forward to seeing how our current planetary hosts make use of their extra day. I was a little disappointed that with the local love of the greeting card, I have seen none wishing the recipient a “Happy Leap Day”. But there are “Happy Leap Year Birthday” cards, including one that reads “Happy Birthday for real this year”. Some locals are preparing to take advantage of the additional recreational time to have a special “cinq à sept” although of the French Canadian variety involving beverages not beds. And elsewhere on the planet, that great alien playground, Disneyland, is staying open for the first time for 24 hours straight from 6am this morning (is that a “six à six"?).

And if you didn’t feel the need before to celebrate these extra 24 hours, then the media yesterday made sure you might want to start appreciating them. Many ran a story that NASA scientists have identified an asteroid that currently has a 1 in 625 chance of crashing into Earth, possibly on 5th February 2040. Fear not, reassuringly, were it to hit, mankind is expected to live through it. Even more reassuringly, NASA officials separately also said they expect the odds of an impact to go way down in the coming years. But heavens above, let’s take this opportunity to make the most of today’s Leap Day – there may only be 6 more left! 

Creative Commons License by Caroline Eagles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.