DANCES WITH WORDS: Hey! Look Up!

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Nick Wolochatiuk

This column was prompted by a long but fruitless search for an AC outlet in a McDonald’s at Wal-Mart. I often visit, not for the burgers or fries, but for their Wi-Fi while I wait for my photos to be processed. The search became pressing when my laptop’s battery finally gave up after four years of regular service.

I approached the cashier: “You MUST have an AC outlet somewhere. Could you give me a hint?” Pausing to wipe her brow between Happy Meals for mutinous toddlers, she whispered, “Near the condiment counter. Look up, way up.”

There it was, on the wall, so high that I had to stand on my tippy-toes and extend my arm up, way up, as if I were a five-footer attempting a slam dunk.

Yes, we all should look up. Here are just a few reasons.

Take notice of the variety of items atop steeples: crosses, roosters, fish (Clayton opera house) and ships. If you ever visit Ottawa’s Parliament Hill or London’s Westminster, check out the weird gargoyles that embellish the upper ledges.

Also in England, and in every airport terminal, government building and shopping centre, look up: CCTV surveillance cameras are almost everywhere. In stores, they look like black, shiny hemispheres.

The sky backdrop is populated with a wide variety of clouds, ranging from heaps of towering cumulus, layers of stratus, wispy cirrus and drippy nimbus. Contrails generated by airliners’ vapour-laden exhaust dissect the blue into a grid. At this time of year, chevrons of Canada geese, bands of less disciplined snow geese and gyrating masses of blackbirds stream across the sky.

When in Rome, do as the Romans (and the gawking tourists): look up. Otherwise, you’ll miss the ornate works of Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Have you ever looked up at the ceiling of a dance hall, night club or music hall? Almost invariably, the darkened ceiling camouflages a maze of blackened steel trusses, ducts, electrical conduits and wiring. We don’t notice what’s up.

Any spelunker knows you have to crane your neck to gaze at the stalactites. Any submariner knows you have to look up to find out what your head has to avoid when navigating through bulkheads. And scuba divers know to stare upwards as they ascend, to avoid being beaned by ship hulls.

When I was entering Cornwall Square’s covered parking lot I absentmindedly forgot to look up, to take notice of the limited overhead clearance warning. I also forgot that my canoe was atop my pickup’s roof.

It almost cleared, but almost is not quite good enough. Only when my 378-pound friend stood on the rear bumper were the canoe and truck released.    

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