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My last day in Glasgow dawned damp and iron grey, but my fellow Trading Tales writer Diana McCaulay and I were undaunted by the promise of rain. We set off for the riverside...

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The Secret Life of Elsa Mitty

Published: 
Monday, January 13, 2014

A tropical warmth was rising from the small of my back, creeping up, up, up till the heat under the new weave was cooking my brain. 

 

“It’s the best human hair, imported from Brazil,’’ the stylist cooed. The bright lights in the dressing room, which was right next to Oprah’s, were not helping. 

 

“You look fabulicious!’’ He clapped his fingertips and flung a final pinch of stardust at my auburn locks.

 

This man was getting on my last nerve but the reflection in the big, gilt-framed mirror did have movie-star quality, right down to the ferociously white smile and the three layers of fox-fur lashes, the same kind specially created for Jennifer Lopez.

 

The young assistant producer popped her unconscionable perm through the door and chirped, “Ms Elsa, they will be ready for you in ten minutes. Everyone is so excited.’’

 

The gold shantung silk gown with the shawl collar moved like a whispering breeze through the poui trees in May. The original Dolce and Gabbana had been selected by Queen O herself, to show off my wonderful decolletage. I had been nipped, tucked, plumped, plucked, boosted, and paddled with the leaves of juniper trees for this moment—the day I become the first woman to…screeeech! 

 

“Hey, Tantie, look wey you goin’, nah?’’

 

What sorcery was this! The golden gown had shrivelled away and the poisonous odour of the mangrove and cacophony of the Beetham Highway traffic had replaced the perfumed eyrie of the movie studio.

 

I gripped the steering wheel tighter—why was I driving this tin can, instead of the red Porsche 911 of yesterday’s escape?

 

“You’re doing it again,’’ Jay said, scowling, a look that did not suit her at all.

 

“What?’’

 

“You went somewhere in your head. Looked like a nice place too.’’

 

“Yeah, go get your own secrets,’’ I thought, maliciously.

 

A gal has a right to her dreams, doesn’t she? Daydreamers are the people you want as your best friends, your bosses, your neighbours, the person in the cubicle next to yours. When you look up from the gutter and see mud, they see stars—and the silvery white astronaut’s suit they are stepping into before boarding the Virgin Atlantic space shuttle to the first residential colony on the moon. 

 

When you get bored, they get an extra cup of fresh brewed coffee with cinnamon sprinkles and take a helicopter ride over an exploding volcano, interview Barack Obama, photograph mating hummingbirds and meditate with the Dalai Lama.

 

Nothing can hurt us. Only daydreamers can be true, enduring heroes because we have no fear. We see tomorrow before it happens and no one has our resilience.

 

For the ultimate daydreamers’ experience, go see the Secret Life of Walter Mitty and sink into those intelligent piercing eyes of Ben Stiller, the anonymous, luckless negative asset manager of a dying LIFE magazine. He fares better than the original character in James Thurber’s famous short story and who but Ben Stiller can transform from nerd in short sleeves and tie to cool, rugged rover?

 

Every wimp and loner (or overweight, underpaid, though utterly cute writer, for that matter) who harbours a genius inside needs this validation. 

 

And one more thing, before you take that death leap from the helicopter with the drunk pilot over the freezing waters of Greenland, remember to…uh oh, wait, what’s that noise?

 

Pocketapocketapocketapocketa. The engine of the brave but battered hydroplane began to sputter and an evil cloud of black smoke enveloped the cockpit. 

 

“Captain Elsa!’’ a faraway frightened voice called, as if the owner’s bowels had become entangled in barbed wire. “It’s up to you now. Only you can get us out of here. Look out.’’