Pretending pays off.
When we were all youngsters, pretending was no biggie. I remember in elementary school, my sis, my then-best-friend and I played “Harry Potter” among other games we made up. My friend always wanted to be the girl, so she was Hermione, I think my sister was Ron (can’t remember why) so I was all, “I guess I’ll be the angsty star who saves the day and stuff” and I was HP. That’s not the point, though. The point is: I could put myself so far into the movie (hadn’t read the books then) that I was flying on a broom and I was holding a valuable wand and we were on a magical adventure.
I also recall all the strange games we made up/learned from someone else:
- Butt-bombs: where everyone jumped simultaneously on a trampoline and tried to land sitting criss-cross style (on their butts, obviously) at the same time. Usually, since we weren’t equipped with the ability to be that exact, someone landed at the perfect moment that sent them flying frighteningly high, and flailed down screaming and laughing. And repeat.
- Popcorn: a similar idea to Butt-bombs; One person sits in the middle of the trampoline and the rest of the group jumps around her and tries to make her bounce really high. Usually got tiring, but was fun when there was an exceptionally light person.
- The Floor Is Lava: everyone knows this one.
- House: oh, gosh, this one is famous, too. Someone’s the mom, dad, kid, animal (occasionally someone strays from the norm and deems herself the cat/dog)
- Toothpaste: Pool game! *fun with a lot of people* Someone is It, stands on one end of the pool and picks a category. Everyone else stands on the other end of the pool and picks things secretly within that category. Anonymously, someone from the Everyone Else group presents the ideas chosen and the It person chooses one. The moment the It person chooses, whoever belongs to the idea chosen must race the person who’s It there or there-and-back. When they reach their respective sides, they say “Toothpaste!” and whoever says it first becomes it.
- Jolly Rancher: Another pool game, similar to Toothpaste. Same initial setup. The person who is It picks a word/phrase within a category and says the initials of the word/phrase. It’s good to pick a difficult word/phrase (but no inside jokes, they ruin it), but not too hard so no one gets it. When someone from Everyone Else thinks he/she knows what it is, he/she must race to tag the It person’s hand and guess. If he/she is wrong, they must return to the opposite side of the pool; if he/she is correct, he/she is It!
- Dress-up: extreme version. One must be in a clothing store to participate. It’s basically a challenge to see who can concoct the ugliest outfit known to man and take it into the dressing room. Must have shoes, apparel, hat, sunglasses (if sold there), gloves, scarf, coat, EVERYTHING.
- Roll the Ball: simply as it states. Sit on the floor with a ball (we always used a volleyball) and roll it. It’s something to do when in a conversation/bored/etc. *NOT a good game for more than 3-4 people!!*
- Floor Volleyball: again, simply as it states. Volleyball on the floor. Very intense. Very. Intense.
- Gum Drop: I know for sure we had a game called Gum Drop and it definitely involved a swing-set but I cannot, for the life of me, remember how it’s played.
- Word games: we had quite a number of word games. The Name Game – go around saying a name for every letter of the alphabet until there are no more; gets good at the end of the alphabet, The Animal Game – think of an animal, everyone must ask you yes/no questions and try to guess it, a LOT of Hangman…
- Tedders: you know those mini, velvety teddy bears at craft stores? We’d buy them and make them little towns and put them in cars and spend hours and hours playing with craft bears. And we called them…..tedders….
I miss being that curious, that exploratory, that adventurous, that imaginative, that fun! I remember when we had sleepovers or just friends home after school, we played games. Yes, we chatted quite a lot and watched movies and what-have-you, but namely it went like this:
Kid: What do you wanna do?
Other Kid: Kickball?
Other Kid: What should we do now?
Kid: We can play Cashier (if there was a toy cash register present).
Other Kid: Alright!
These days, you hear things like: “If you act like you like it, it’ll eventually come true.” Which is actually kind of true, but besides that, Why are people doing things they don’t enjoy?
Anyway, I kind of took that advice today, despite the depressing moral of it. After final exams, school was over and I had been getting progressively more tired as this week wore on, so I was dead. I brightened up when I talked to all the kids who would be in my German class next semester, and everyone is unanimously excited! Side-note: I love German class more than any other class, and I’m friends with most of the students in it! However, then I had to get on the bus alone (sis was at the library!) and I was, once again, pooped.
After awhile, I began thinking about all the kids I see in the halls with their nice headphones who truly look like they love listening to music. That listening to music is a pastime and not something to block out the world with as one travels from A to B. I was listening to music – shouldn’t that make me happier? School was over for today and I had no homework or after school obligations – didn’t that make me happier? No one on my bus is judgmental enough to tease me if I close my eyes on the ride home – isn’t that great? Look at the old and cute houses I’m passing, and the blue winter sky, and that blue heron in that pond that’s freezing over, and all the bare trees reaching toward the sky – aren’t I lucky to be seeing this? Finally, I got it through my mind: this boring semester is finally over – this is great.
I got to my stop, saluted my bus driver (who is the nicest in the world, by the way), and began my trek home. The world seemed a little bit brighter, even though, judging by the salt lines on the road, heavy weather foreboded. I looked to my left and saw a green house tucked back behind a deep creek that had very little water in it surrounded by reaching and intertwining trees and brush. I thought, “I would love to live there!” I thought about how I would have loved when I was younger to explore the creek and that mysterious crumbling stone wall sitting in it and the looming trees. I still would, but it’s not exactly cute OR responsible for a 16-year-old to be lurking and climbing around in someone else’s yard.
The only noise I heard was the water below a grate in the street tumbling past. But the silence around it wasn’t scary, or uncomfortable – it was plush and peaceful and round and crisp and cool and relieving. As I marched up my driveway, looking through the mail and being disappointed that one of my best friend’s letters hadn’t arrived yet (she said it was sent on Monday!) I thought “This isn’t going to ruin my mood!” I breathed in the wintery silence and admired my house and truly believed “I love living here.”
I was happy. I was happy because…just because!
The first thing I saw when I slid our door open was a package – addressed to me. From my friend! She did not send me a letter, she sent me a package! My positive mood grew.
I sat with my mom and saw one of my favorite movies was on. Three points.
A few minutes later, my mom said, “I made brownies.”
Four. I opened the package and it made me smile inside and out. I’m not going to tell you all what it was, because it wouldn’t make an impact on you, but it was simply the icing on the cake for me and I felt the luckiest I’ve ever felt today. And it all started with some pretending. Pretending that I was a very happy person. It seeped into my heart and it swelled with truth. Now, I am. So, it’s time for an I-told-you-so.
Pretending pays off.