After two weeks of total immersion in all things Alice, we’re finding that even normal people look like Wonderland characters.
Here are a few we’ve noticed:
1. The Red Queen
The Red Queen, as her title suggests, queens it over the less experienced and the newly-arrived in Wonderland (or Looking-glass country, if you would like to be pedantic.)
We all knew her in school. She’s the bossy one who made a beeline for The New Girl recently arrived from out-of-town, made a big deal about showing her around, and kindly explained the school rules in a manner guaranteed to confuse and subtly terrify the newcomer – which, of course, was the intention.
Now fully grown rather than three inches high, she reigns supreme over the expat coffee morning posse and sends out Tupperware party invitations which no one dares refuse for fear of excommunication from the International School’s PTA.
Her self-proclaimed superiority is based on her many years in Wonderland, and her familiarity with the country. She knows the place forwards, backwards, sideways, and diagonally.
2. The White Rabbit.
The Red Queen’s (or Duchess’s) sidekick. Always busy, always rushing somewhere, always checking her watch or BlackBerry, always worrying that she will be late for something – although no one cares whether she is there or not, and most would prefer that she isn’t.
She organizes coffee mornings, school bake sales, and garden fetes, and is never happier than when she is chairing a committee. She loves giving orders, which are generally followed but with much resentful muttering from the minions.
Her favorite expression, apart from “Oh my fur and whiskers!” is “If you want something doing properly, do it yourself”, followed by a heavy sigh at the bumbling incompetents with whom she is forced to associate by dint of a common nationality.
3. The Cheshire Cat.
The Cheshire Cat holds himself slightly aloof from the madness that is the expat enclave, accepts Wonderland’s eccentricities with smiling resignation, but has a tendency to disappear when the going gets tough.
Although he is friendly and happy to chat, don’t expect more than a superficial friendship from this one.
4. The Hatter.
Here is someone who should have left Wonderland years ago. Time no longer has any true meaning to The Hatter, who calculates it in days rather than hours, and in months until visa expiration rather than weeks since the beginning of tea time. He makes jokes that aren’t funny, then gets offended when no one laughs.
The Hatter is a great fan of the traditional expat gin and tonic, however, and it is always six o’clock in his house.
The homesick newcomer, desperately trying to make sense of a new country and managing to offend people every time she opens her mouth.
She soon discovers that the beautiful, magic place she tried so many times to enter is full of faults, just like home, and the people in it of whom she was once in awe are “nothing but a pack of cards.”
At this point she often leaves the country, as she has found the grass on the other croquet lawn isn’t any greener after all. Ironically, if she stays just a little longer, she will find that she has gone through the most difficult time of adjustment, and life in Wonderland can – probably – only get easier.
So – Do you know one of these Alice characters, or – dare you admit it – are you one yourself?
Img: — Many thanks to Emily Cannell at Hey From Japan for the photograph of waxwork Alice at the Tokyo Tower!
STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s interview with Random Nomad Helena Halme. She appeals for citizenship in The Displaced Nation — and answers an Alice question!
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