When I heard there’d be gigantic marionette robots walking through Montreal for its 375th birthday party, I was like, great, sounds like what I was born to do. I had no idea of the emotional roller coaster ride I was in for.
The Little Girl Giant, a 5-story tall creation by theater troupe Royal de Luxe, was brought to Montreal for the city’s 375th birthday celebration. The giant “woke up” at 10 am and began to walk the streets. She was headed towards the Notre Dame Cathedral so that she could lay down in front of it at 1 pm (for a 2.5-hour nap). Apparently being tall as hell as well as a young child means you can only stay awake for 3 hours at a time, which seemed reasonable enough.
We waited for the giants at a restaurant near the cathedral. We were told they would be marching right by us. I sat and waited. I heard whispers amongst my colleagues, however, that caused me alarm.
“They may have changed the route.”
I was suddenly alert. I panicked momentarily, running out into the street and peering into the distance for any sign of the giant. It was nearing noon—she’d been awake for almost 2 hours! It was nearing time for her nap! Where was she?
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In the distance, I finally saw her. There she was, a thousand feet tall*, made up of wood, and manned by at least 30 puppeteers—she looked extremely real. She was both a robot and a marionette, so she had a bunch of guys maneuvering her head and face, and her mouth moved with extreme realness. Her whole face seemed alive, and it really looked like she was staring at people, and acknowledging them. Her neck looked like that of a robot, and the rest of her looked like a puppet. And she was dressed like a young child and holding a large lollipop. It was weird as hell. She walked in a way that seemed like she was moving in slow motion, but it was actually pretty quick. This was also weird as hell.
*measurement reflects the writer’s perspective (which is wrong) and not the actual height of the giant, probably.
The crowd was joyous, but all I could think about was how this was exactly how I’ve always imagined the world coming to an end (an unassuming, happy crowd, ready for a parade… and a gigantic, young child staring at everyone, completely calm).
Her dog led the way. The dog, I found out, was also a god (the giants, apparently, are shrouded in mystery and folklore).
She waited. Preparing to walk and staring at everyone like it was the damn apocalypse. This birthday party was about to get lit.
She began walking.
Oh, god, here she… here she comes.
She walked by nonchalantly. And as quickly as it began, it was over.
Okay, cool, I thought. Saw the Little Girl Giant. I’m good on that, now. But there was supposed to be another giant, also—a man dressed in a scuba outfit—the Deep Sea Diver Giant. Now it was time to find him … who, I found out, apparently wasn’t waking up until 4 pm. Seriously? You’re sleeping until 4 pm, dude?
Fine, I’ll wait.
After a brief break, I prepared to get to the Montreal Science Centre, his wake-up spot, by 4 pm. I carefully studied my map and boarded the metro.
I immediately got off at the wrong stop. That’s fine! I’ll go by foot.
Okay, listen, I apparently can’t read a map and got lost and never found the Science Center, but I was determined to find the second giant if it was the last thing I did (okay, let’s hope not—yikes).
I stomped down the streets of Montreal like a madwoman, holding a (useless) map and basically just looking around, for an extremely tall man in a scuba outfit. It’s a giant, I thought. I can find a giant. He’s very large.
Come on, if you can’t read a map, you can at least use your damn eyes. Use your eyes, man!
At this point, I was literally just running around Montreal (which is walkable, thankfully). I think I accidentally wound up in Chinatown three times. How? I have no idea.
Suddenly, I happened upon a large crowd. I looked at my map, like a confused adventurer. Was this where the other giant was?
This is probably how Indiana Jones felt, if he were bad at his job, I thought to myself.
It became painfully obvious to me that the crowd wasn’t gathered around the giant. Perhaps he had just left? This seemed likely, as the crowd seemed to be on the move. Dammit! I must’ve just missed him! I thought, cursing my terrible map skills.
Are these people also looking for the giant? Probably, right? Why else would they be here? Why else would anyone be doing anything right now, if it weren’t to find this giant? I followed the crowd and found a bench, so I climbed atop it and looked into the distance—and saw a large figure ahead.
Turns out they were following him! I HAD MADE IT. I ran through the crowd. It had to be him, it had to be the second giant. I got closer and closer and… Wait.
Oh, goddammit. It wasn’t the second giant at all.
It was the Little Girl Giant again!
Not you, I thought. I’ve already seen you. Where was the other giant?!
But this time she was wearing goggles and on a tricycle so it appears she was well-rested after her nap. And, it’s like they always say: the same giant is better than no giant at all!
Oh god, she’s about to… she’s going to drive away on that bike, isn’t she?
She rode away on the bike. I just found her and now she’s riding away on a large tricycle?? You gotta be kidding me, I thought to myself. Just my luck.
What do I do? I thought. The crowd was following her. So … I joined them. I ran after the giant.
This was my life now. I was following a little girl giant down the streets of the Old Port. She sped off on that bike pretty fast, and me not being a giant and also not having a large bike, I knew I was going to have to book it if I wanted to stay with her—which I did, because I had a lot of questions. For example, why was she on a tricycle?
The crowd was dense. It was absolutely imperative that I get ahead of the crowd if I wanted to keep up with her.
I cut through a back street and found her again after winding in and out of the crowd, just in time to see the men surrounding the giant helping her off her bike. She stood up and began walking again.
And then stopped!
Wait. She’s just standing there. Why is she just standing there? What is about to happen???
…Okay, apparently it was time to swing some children on her arms?
She swung some children on her arms for probably a half hour. This is getting ridiculous. I was about ready to leave and try to find the Deep Sea Diver giant, but immediately upon thinking this, the men helped her up and she appeared ready to walk again.
I was sticking with the Little Girl Giant ’til the end, it seemed. I accepted my fate. And I was ready.
She walked on. We were off to the races again. And this time, I couldn’t be stopped.
I full-on chased her at this point.
She’s on this street now! I chased her down this street. I am so glad I brought a bag of cashews. This was tiring!
INSIDER TIPWhen you are chasing a giant through the streets of Montreal, be sure to bring a snack.
Look at this crowd! Everyone loves this giant! Including me! I love this giant, I love this. I was a woman possessed, full-on chasing a robotic marionette giant down the Montreal streets, and I felt alive.
I followed the crowd and was led to the spot where her dog was waiting for her.
She heard her dog howling in the distance and appeared to recognize and walk towards him, waiting for her, and sipping his water. It was sweet, in a horrifying, apocalyptic kind of way.
After reuniting with her dog god, the two met, and then the dog ran around, and everything appeared to be over.
She began… wait.. Why is she…
Okay now she is… rising into the air?????????? The little girl was rising unbelievable far into the air, as serene music played.
Finally, she was lowered to the ground, and it appeared to be time for bed (they had begun setting up a large bed for her to sleep in, while she was up in the air).
Okay wait now she is dancing while floating in the air.
I was wrong again. It wasn’t over yet.
What kind of bedtime ritual was this? Is this how I should be getting ready for bed? (Note: No. I’m not a giant.)
The air dancing concluded, and her large bed was all set up. It was time to sleep. They undressed her (weird), put pajamas on her, and set up this chandelier over her bed.
It was time to sleep–the Little Girl Giant had a long day. I stopped at a nearby dep to buy a single beer and got the hell out of there. I had a long day, too, albeit a successful one.
Except I never did find that Deep Sea Diver. Next time, I thought. This isn’t over.
[Editor’s Note: It was over.]