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  • rileysoloner

Gnome More

On this day, the National Day of Solidarity, I dressed up in a gnome costume and joined the SAG-AFTRA / WGA picket line near Hudson Yards. This was me taking after the old clowns in my life who would show up to protests to support with humor.

I told Ellena my plan and she worried that playing dress up would be seen by the strike as Not Solidarity. Or a violation of some acting technicality. I pushed back. I know where the worry originates: what if someone gets mad at me? What if they want to hurt me?

I clown on the street from time to time. I get that even though you may be a performer, this probably isn't your cup of tea. But in one form or another, this is something I've done for a long time.

And yeah, I get that if you're just walking in Manhattan, chances are you don't have the fucking mental energy to deal with a goofy under employed redhead grasping for your attention with his schtick. But even if someone gets really, really mad at me, I keep the faith that it's not going to get that bad. Look: the one time I got attacked in the City, I was minding my own business.

Over the years, I have established a comfort zone for street clowning. Not full comfort, but a willingness to try, and try again. Through repetition, I have learned to not only be open to the moments you hope for; the smile, the wave, the laugh, the participation. I've also learned to be curious and delighted by being met with an unwilling participant's unique take on their stifled contempt. Everyone has a completely different and adorable way to desperately pretend like they're not witnessing a gnome bopping down the sidewalk. Do you, buddy. Convincing!

Anyway. I made it to the protest. They gave me a t-shirt and a sign. I would say more people in the picket line reacted kindly to my bit than I expected. And the people who didn't like it? They were great too.

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