Monday, July 09, 2007

Bobby, You'll Be Tree Number 4.

I saw an article online that said a man robbed a bank in New Hampshire dressed as a tree. I can't help but love everything about this story. I love thinking about his mindset going into the robbery, I love the cartoon nature of the disguise and I love imagining what the other people in line at the bank thought as a tree waited patiently to make a transaction. Crime is wrong, obviously, but if someone demanded my wallet dressed as some sort of shrubbery (or anything really) I think I'd go along with the whole thing. Yes, I'd be out some cash, but just think of how many times I could mention that I was robbed by a pencil (or cat, or spruce). You can't put a price on that.

For anyone who has ever seen The Bushman at Fisherman's Wharf in SF, you have to appreciate how hilarious this story is. I hate Fisherman's Wharf, but 5 minutes of watching this guy scare people was worth getting stuck behind slow-walking tourists. The Bushman is brilliant for 2 reasons.
1) Watching startled people jump and scream is one of life's simple pleasures.
2) People are actually surprised someone is behind a random group of branches sprouting out of nothing on a city sidewalk.

I like to think the Tree-Man in NH had the Bushman in mind when he robbed the bank. "I'll just move slowly along, la de da, I'm just a tree, nothing to see here, and then when they least expect it, 'Give me all your money!'' The more I started to think about the whole thing, the more I started to really like this guy. How sad is that? I just can't help but smile when I imagine him breaking twigs off the trees in his yard. "Oh, this one is good! I am so going to look like a tree."

But all of this raises the question, why? Why would a grown man think dressing as a tree and robbing a bank would work? Or, not even work, but why would he think this was a good idea? Or, not even a good idea, why would he even think it? I know little (read: nothing) about the origins of the criminal mind but I'd say the source is a childhood trauma. For this man in New Hampshire, it's quite clear to me that he played a tree in one too many an elementary school play.

Do you remember elementary school plays? The quiet kids were ALWAYS trees. It was the only way to get Shy Sally on stage so her parents could get a picture and she wouldn't feel left out. But even when I was in first grade it amazed me that these kids didn't tell the teachers to fuck off. Trees never had lines, they literally stood there, and I swear to you, I remember one kid being a tree that didn't even have a hole for his face. He was literally behind the tree, holding it up. That kid is without a doubt in jail right now. Telling a child to be a tree (particularly during aquatic scenes) does very little to build his sense of self and establishes within him the idea that he won't be noticed. Enter Tree-Man, stage right.

I like to think that if he'd been given a few lines in a play as a kid, he might have done something more sophisticated than robbing a bank dressed as a tree. Maybe a soft soliloquy delivered at the ATM.


brina said...

So funny, Jess! You know how much I love the bushman! He alone is worth the trip to cali.I hope the tree robber wasn't a maple tree. Those leaves have those gross red spores on the underside of them and those would be touching him all over. GROSS!

Do you think his inspiration came from a deep longing to somehow defy "Money doesn't grow on..."?

Pamplemousse said...

Looooved this post, Jess. You crack me up. I'm now, of course, trying to remember all the roles I played in elementary school plays and wondering how they may have affected my psyche...

And Brina, as for the spores, just remember: Fear? Who cares?! :)

xo, Meredith

Jess said...

bri, that spore comment was really random. Remember when we would hide in the pantry and jump out on mom? i was in there for about an hour one time praying that she would need pasta or peanut butter before all my air ran out.
walking out of a large cabinet without having startled anyone makes you feel like a pretty big ass, even as a 7-year old.

Hey Meredith! Thanks for your comment! Sabrina sent me your blog a while ago (i love it) and i've been meaning to leave a comment but i wasn't sure if you'd remember who i was.

I think if you played an animal or a human character with a name, you're fine. playing part of the set is what worries me. tree, rock, house -- there's trouble in a cardboard identity. and starring as an inanimate object with lines, like a talking spoon or something, probably didn't help a kid.