I’ve been watching a lot of low brow Christmas rom-coms lately. Let me specify; I’ve watched four. So far. It’s just seemed like the right course of action. So be it. The last one I watched had particularly bad writing, but I went along with it anyway, I stuck in there and, yes, I needed a couple of time-outs to collect myself when the plot holes were just too jarring, or the drama just too unnecessarily artificial, but I still found myself clapping, dancing, giggling with glee, and otherwise being just very silly at multiple points throughout, alone in my house with no-one to witness.
And I like it. I like the simple joy of it. I like that I can access it with such little provocation. I feel accomplished that I have reached the point where I am so easily pleased. Because I am a fucking complex character, and allowing my mind to enjoy simple, unanalysed pleasures was not exactly written into my programming.
But there’s a weird yet predictable thing that happens when I catch myself being so joyfully, needlessly silly. Because I do like it about myself, and the observer within me enjoys to witness it. But some different part – the analyst, I would posit – immediately wonders what other people would think about it. And veers off on a tangent wondering why we aren’t all like that around each other. Because surely I’m not the only one being so weird and silly when no-one’s around. It’s even a device used in the very films I’ve been watching to endear characters to the audience. So why is it socially unacceptable when people are around? Why can’t I feel comfortable being joyfully, needlessly silly in front of people who aren’t my four year old son? Even with people who I know, rationally, love and accept me for who I am; I’m not going to fully unleash my joyful, needless silliness upon them. Presumably because I don’t want to test it. Because I’m not sure they are quite so weird and silly behind closed doors. I have a suspicion that their weird and silly stops far short of my own, and revealing the true extent of my fucking weird silliness would somehow alienate them.
Why? Why is the world this way? Because I am nothing more than a not-so-neatly packaged product of it, so I can’t take full responsibility. But I don’t think we were supposed to stop playing.
I mean, I do very, very silly things in very, very public places with my son (and sometimes other stranger-children who join us, like that kid who demanded I be a moaning, eyes-half-closed zombie rampaging around the middle of a bustling Newcastle square. Your wish is my command, Child-I-Have-Never-Met-Before). But the truth is, I would like to do those very, very silly things in very, very public places without my son, without any reason, and I am (many would argue, quite fucking rightly) simply too scared. The only time any of us ever seem to do that is when we’re in a pack, and that pack is still largely shunned by the rest of society.
But imagine a world designed for adults that play! That is a world I want to experience.