Over the last few days I have been mulling over what I would write in my letter to you all, thinking about the theme: who do you want to be today? My mind went off on a tangent, and suddenly I started recalling some of the pretend play games my friends and I engaged in -- memories that I havent thought of in years.
wonderful games with so many different friends, at many ages. There was one game,
from my early years, that my friend Vicki and I dubbed "Spanish Cocoa."
Vicki and I would pretend to be harried, overworked housewives, who would stand
over the bathroom sink (it was supposed to be the kitchen sink), and mix weird cures,
usually made out of toothpaste and Ajax, and complain about our husbands and children
(?!). One of us had a no-good teenage son, who wouldnt get a job or go to
college. I have no recollection how we came up with the name "Spanish
Cocoa", it had something to do with the noxious tonics we made. I also have no
idea how we came up with this imitation of life either! We also played lady
journalists, in the very together, strong, got-it-going-on style. We would make
official press badges to hang around our necks, use the typewriter to write stories, make
phone calls to very important people, have meetings with the publisher, and take
photographs -- mostly of each other.
During this period, and later, there was always, of course, dress up. Tutus, nightgowns, costumes, adult clothes, everything got pulled out of the closet and chests. Like a lot of kids, often the long-suffering family pets were drafted into this game.
friend, Hilary, and I would play "Pioneer Women." Hilarys family had a
pond on her property with a little island in the center of the pond, and a little log hut
on the island. An arched bridge connected the island to the banks of the pond. There
was also a row boat, and we would use the boat to get food (algae, weeds, berries, that
were mixed and mashed -- we were early vegans). We tried to catch minnows and frogs,
we would go into "town" (the house) for provisions, we would clean the cabin,
have adventures, and protect our land from outside enemy forces. We got a lot of
mileage out of this game; we never tired of it.
Later, Im embarrassed to admit it was 9th grade, I would play a game called "Helena Rubenstein" with another friend, Nancy. We would play this on average of about once a week, after school. This game was essentially that we would act out the "salon experience," alternating who was the client and who was the proprietress. One of us would don a white smock (what we actually used for a smock, God only knows), and the other one would sit down, put up her feet, and be the recipient of a damn good manicure. The conversation was respectful, continental and genteel. I think Im blushing with chagrin as I write this.
This same girlfriend had a younger sister who did a very good impression of Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie. We would dress her up in some get-up that looked like the Jeannie outfit. I remember pink harem pants, and I think we used some sort of pink plastic cup with elastic for her headdress. All this work was to get Johanna, the little sister, into character in order for us to record her voice into a tape recorder. We would make her ask questions à la Jeannie-voice, like: Are you my master? What are you doing, Master? What can I do for you, Master? I love my Master! And other dumb stuff. Then wed send her on her way, and start dialing the phone numbers of cute guys we liked. We would get them on the phone, and then start the tape rolling. The disconnection between her recorded ridiculous questions and the bewildered answers from the guy (mostly "Who is this?"), were hilarious. We would be listening on extensions. Did anyone ever hang up? Nooooo. This game also had endless mileage.
much after 9th grade, the games faded away, to be replaced by SATs, extracurricular
activities, looking into prospective colleges, and looming adulthood.
When we get older, our fantasies change. They become less rich in variety -- theyre mostly about money, possessions, and sex. We lose those worlds, those universes we created for ourselves when we were young. Try to recollect your own "Spanish Cocoa" games, recapture your elaborate fantasies, and think about who you want to be today -- it can be anyone you want.
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