To whom it may concern

Making it up as I go along

There are times when I think to myself, “Will I ever grow up?”

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Sometimes it is when I am speeding along the highway blasting some terrifically terrible pop song du jour, or buying sluprees at midnight, or laughing so hard that I snort.

Snort repeatedly.

(Because it’s either that or pee my pants.)

Will I ever grow up?

I don’t know.

And what does this even mean?

For all intents and purposes, I live a relatively “adult” life.

I am married.

I have a mortgage.

I have a BA and an MA (although I am missing the PhD to complete the trio.)

I am gainfully employed.

I pay my taxes.

But then again, do any of these things actually constitute “adultness”?

Or is it just evidence that I am, on paper at least, a compliant citizen?

And in the end, isn’t it this all [picture me gesturing about the place] just play acting?

When we were little girls, my sisters and I lived in worlds of make believe.

While Jessi and I got to inhabit the kookiest of characters, Kate, being the eldest, was always saddled with the most vanilla of roles, which usually included “Owner” or “Nanny Kate.”

(For whatever reason, our otherwise shockingly powerful imaginations seemed to run out of steam when it came to her parts and their accompanying monikers.)

In one iteration of our fantasy world, Jessi and I played Shampoo (pronounced Shaum-poo) and Squirt, two extraterrestrial creatures who lived with Owner.

Shampoo (in my imagination at least) was part bulldog, part Tasmanian devil, part vacuum cleaner. He was a little ball of fury, always tearing about the house, and to the best of my knowledge, foaming at the mouth.

Jessi (who never had very complex speaking roles with any of the characters she portrayed) mostly just made crazy guttural gnashing sounds to communicate Shampoo’s feelings.

Squirt was long, blue, and strangely collapsible. As we walked to school in the mornings, Kate would press down on my head, and I would chirp, “SQUIRT!” before crumpling down into a low squat.

(I always pictured his body as the middle part of an accordion.)

Squirt was from a pacifist alien tribe, and never wanted any trouble. Thinking back, I’m pretty sure the only thing I could say whilst in character was also just, “SQUIRT.”

A couple of budding linguists we were not.

Now Shampoo hated Squirt, and was always trying to eat him. So as you can imagine, most of the game involved Shampoo running after Squirt, with Owner every so often stepping in and playing intermediary.

(I think this was Kate’s genius idea to let us play 90 per cent on our own, tire ourselves out, and then step in when the time was right for a brief hang out.)

And what can I say?

It worked.

Let’s flash-forward to grade five.

I really liked Sailor Moon.

Like, a lot.

After watching the latest episode on YTV (best Canadian youth television channel EVER), I would dress up in my highland dancing outfits, and then creep upstairs to my parent’s bedroom.

There I would sneak into their closet, and dig out my Dad’s old tai chi swords from behind my mom’s many shoeboxes and Hudson’s Bay Company shopping bags, (and other miscellaneous OLD PERSON detritus that was lying about).

Then I would choose between the long, thin blade and the fat, curved sabre.

I normally went with long and thin.

Fatty Curve (copyright) always seemed like something the bad guys would use.

From there I would race about my house, pretend-battling alien evil-doers, and then quasi-make out with my hand (in lieu of a real-life Tuxedo Mask.)

This was the main difference between my world and the television show: I never needed a man to come and save me at the last minute. I did my own butt-kicking, and saved the disguised suitor for kissing (and other general pretend-boyfriend duties.)

Jump ahead twelve years.

I am twenty-two years old and I am walking home from the gym.

It’s summer, and therefore quite warm. I can feel the sun baking down on my sweaty, salt-licked skin.

I am listening to my “I JUST FELT LIKE RUNNING” playlist, which basically consists of any and every song that makes me want to get up and dance.

Pretty much anytime I am going anywhere listening to music I imagine that I am in a movie, and whatever song I am listening to turns in the de facto score of Miramax’s newest release: MY LIFE – THE FILM.

As I near my apartment building, Metric’s Poster of a Girl begins to play.

I try everything in my power to not dance.

I kind of shuffle a bit, and maybe side step once or twice.

I even try to speed up my pace, thinking that the sooner I get home, the less likely I am to break it down in the middle of the Ukrainian church parking lot.

No dice.

My body is physically incapable of not dancing to this tune.

So I just give in, and dance like I am in the credits of some absolutely ridiculous teen comedy, (probably titled “Gym Nuts!” or something equally as trite.)

After a little while, I manage to regain my composure and continue my walk home.

That is of course, until I realize the painters working on the building next to mine have been watching me the entire time, and burst into spontaneous applause after I finish.

I am torn between pretending nothing happened and running away.

Instead, I curtsey.

And then I run away.

Now I’m pretty sure that I am still all three of those people – SQUIRT, Sailor Moon, and mad-dancing gym nut.

And I don’t think any number of “adult” qualifiers will ever change that.

I mean what, my friends, would be the fun in that?

25 thoughts on “Making it up as I go along

  1. purrrfectimento, demento schaumpoozle!
    lissen to me, kiddo, i am just a wee bit more grizzled ‘n wrinkleatid than you, and realized long ago that it’s too late to become or decide what to do when i grow up.
    THIS POST of yours, what with the IMAGES of Squirt and Owner and such, should, if i wuzz in charge of the PHRASH-prest department, be front & center.

    1. okeh: just 1 anecdote from childhood role-playing: we (there were 4 of us, plus the usual cousins ‘n neighborhoodly snoids) would PLAY DINOSAURS. the pteradactyl was usually the most difficult part. everyone roaming (or flying, or wriggling) about pretending to be whatever dinosaur would continue until the lucky kid who got to be THE TYRANNOSAURUS killed and ate everyone else.

        1. berleave it oar knot: weed axually take turns. EVERYONE got to be the tee-wrecks, @ sum tyme oar uh nuthur.
          even though i was (usually) the oldest, i’d often try to be the pteraldactyl, as i used to challenge myself. more. than since.

    2. Awww, thanks Mr. R! This comment seriously made my day. I am so glad that you enjoyed it! And I’m also glad to hear there are so many other people out there who have yet to grow up. :)

  2. FAVOURITE POST EVER. (until the next favourite post)

    OMG I laughed so hard at the Sailor Moon part (esp making out with hand/Tuxedo Mask). Had to read it aloud to Michael.
    I too was a lover of Sailor Moon, but mostly the superior Japanese version. Sadly, much of the (what I thought was) sly humour was lost in translation, only to be replaced with a lot of (in my sharply critical 10 year mind) lazy lowbrow slapstick. What a snob! But I’m 100% sure they censored much (or all) of the more sexual humour. Yeah…Japanese anime for kids: lots of weird sexual humour.

    Anyway, friends/relatives in Japan could only send so many VHS’s over old eps to us, so I settled for English dub on YTV.

    I am blown away by your commitment to role-playing Sailor Moon, though. A highlamd dancing outfit, of course! How perfect. Alas, I had no short pleated skirt to wear while pretending to vanquish evil doers. (my mum hates short skirts, and would never buy me any!)

    Yay for memory posts!

    1. Seriously, ten year-old you is such a boss. I love it! I can totally picture you being all, “WTF – where is the show I know and love?”

      My highland dancing outfits were pretty much my favourite thing in my life for many, many years. I wanted to get married in my national costume I thought it was so beautiful! Too funny…

      So glad you enjoyed this! Seriously, it means a lot! xx

  3. Misses,
    I will be 50 this year and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up…or if I even will?! In fact the older I get the more carefree I become, thinking “does it matter? I’m happy and not hurting anyone.” Be yourself, enjoy your life…chances are you only get one go at it so make it a good one!
    Cheers,
    Laura
    xx

    1. This is such a great comment, and I take your words to heart! I definitely look to your passionate and care-free spirit, it really is something to be celebrated. :) I look forward to many more years of midnight slurpees! xx

  4. Not to be all Peter Pan about it, but “growing up” is overrated. I mean, expecting and fulfilling certain responsibilities is awesome; I love the challenge. But it always seems to me like adults have no real, down to Earth, Sailor Moon, dancing home from the gym fun! Sometimes children have it spot on.
    I do hope you’re taking time for yourself to relax doing whatever it is makes your little heart happy!

    1. I think your comment is spot on! If we don’t make time for the silly, we surely miss out on so much great! I hope you have much Sailor Moon mad-dance parties in your life, my lovely friend!

      Thank you so much for this note – your words are always so lovely and I so very much appreciate them! xx

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