Jimmy Playing

Learning how to play

You would think as an improviser I would like to play in my everyday life. You would think I would at least know how to have fun and be silly.

I am sorry to disappoint, but I don’t. A couple of weekends ago it became very clear that this might be becoming a problem.

On Saturday afternoon, my wife asked me if I would play with our cat Coco or Moosh-Poosh or whatever name we came up for her that week. I agreed so I would not be accused of not playing with the cat. I really don’t see the point of playing with a cat, now that she is no longer a kitten. It does not surprise me that Lauren is afraid that if we are ever lucky enough to have kids that I won’t want to play with our kids. This is real fear of mine as well. Playing is not in my DNA.

So with Lauren watching I threw a string of plastic gold beads on the hardwood floor so Coco could chase them. It was the most excruciating four minutes of my life.

Then on Sunday, Lauren wanted me to do something with her.

Lauren: Do you want to go on a walk to the park and throw the Frisbee?
Me: (long pause)
Lauren: Come on, it will be fun.
Me: (longer pause)
Lauren: It’s beautiful out.
Me: (longest pause….) Oh, ok.

I did not want to go. This is not my definition of fun. Fun for me is anything I can do while I am horizontal. Taking a nap, sitting by the pool, getting an MRI. If I am laying down, chances are I am having a good time, and if I can incorporate reading into the activity, I am in heaven.

So, Lauren dragged my sorry ass to the park where we started to throw the Frisbee to each other. I say it was a Frisbee, but it was not a real one. It was a promotional one that you get at a bank, which we all know don’t throw as well as real ones. Anyway, we start to toss it around, and all I keep thinking is, “When is this going to be over?”

Most people lose time when then do something that they enjoy. When I am doing something that I enjoy, I am usually checking the time, counting the minutes until it will be done. It does not matter if I am at a movie, on vacation, or having sex. The best part for me is when it’s over. For me, it’s hard to hold onto joy because I don’t believe it will last, so I’d rather avoid having any joy at all.

After 10 minutes of playing catch with the wobbly promotional Frisbee, Lauren says my favorite expression: “OK, that’s enough, let’s go.”

I’m not going to lie. I was grateful to go home into the air conditioning. But I was also grateful that I have someone like Lauren in my life who forces me to have fun and experience joy, because I clearly don’t know how to have it on my own.

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