Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this

October 15th, 2010

I recently discovered that the ConductMom felt that I suffered, somehow, from an amusement deficit as a child because I had no siblings. She was wrong about that, but perhaps growing up as an only child did enhance my ability to amuse myself.

Such as … when I am walking around in the city, either with Milo or by myself, I sometimes like to play a game I call “‘Law & Order’ Intro.” You know how every episode of L&O opens with someone discovering a body? A couple of joggers are stretching when one of them notices a body by the side of the path. A woman walking her dog thinks that he’s pulling the leash to go after a squirrel, but it turns out that behind that tree is — a dead body. A busy executive talking on a cell phone during a noontime power walk goes to a dumpster to dispose of a plastic water bottle only to find — right.

So this is the game I play. Ooh, what is that in the reeds by the Charles? Tucked behind the dumpster at Chang Sho? Underneath a Harvard footbridge? It’s a mental game, I hasten to explain. I don’t do anything, I only try to imagine what kind of person I am, what my goal is, how I will react. Maybe I am a professor of criminology who has never actually seen a corpse. Maybe I am a stay-at-home MILF whose plans for a yoga-and-coffee date just got radically disrupted. Maybe I am a former junkie trying to stay clean and terrified of encountering law enforcement again in any context.

It’s a nice way to enliven a dog walk or an errand run. Thanks, ConductMom and father of blessed memory, for not having any other kids to disturb my imaginary games. Thanks for being big fans of crime dramas, too.


8 Responses to “Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this”

  1. I Heart Crane on October 15, 2010 2:50 pm

    I have two older brothers, but I play the same game (and did it yesterday on a walk outside of campus). I just never called it Law and Order Intro.

  2. Hope on October 15, 2010 4:53 pm

    I have a lot of siblings, but I do that too!

  3. Eager Ears on October 16, 2010 9:09 am

    Another only child here — I definitely do that, although my version is more based on 30s mystery novels (I’ve never seen Law and Order). I also sometimes imagine going back in time — when I was younger I would fantasize about going to Valley Forge with a bunch of supplies and giving Washington and his army a good meal and a bunch of shoes.

  4. Shulamuth on October 16, 2010 12:49 pm

    Dead bodies –TV or Agatha Christie, never occurred to me, but I’m always giving interesting looking people (and especially interesting couples who are just a little unmatched) back-stories of one sort or another.

  5. allstonian on October 17, 2010 2:56 pm

    I don’t really think of it as playing a game with myself, but I do from time to time find myself walking someplace where it seems likely I might stumble across a dead body (usually near water, like the Chestnut Hill reservoir, or the Riverway just outside of Kenmore Square, or that stretch of the Charles River path on the Boston side right near there where the path kind of weaves around the supports of the Fenway overpasses), and pondering the imagined experience in rather more detail than is necessary. But I’m usually pretty creeped out by the feeling.

    And then there’s this morning, when I was out walking my elderly pug and came across a guy passed out or simply very sound asleep in the middle of the sidewalk. I didn’t want to get too close, especially since I had the dog with me and she can behave…unpredictably…towards pretty much anyone we meet on our walks. But while his pose suggested that he was in fact asleep, I was concerned that I couldn’t see any breath movements. And as usual, I didn’t have my cell phone with me, because I rarely bring it on dog walks. So I frog-marched the poor dog home briskly and called 911. I have to assume that the ambulance came promptly, and that the guy was more or less all right, because I went back to check about 15 minutes later and there was nothing in sight, rather than a bunch of police cars. Still not an enjoyable way to start the day.

  6. WhirledPeasPlease on October 17, 2010 7:02 pm

    My favorite game to play is, “Who Are the Other People Sitting in the Restaurant, and What Do They Do?” My dad and I used to make up elaborate backgrounds of strangers, and then sometimes he’d strike up a conversation and see how close we were. (Note: Talking to strangers is not as abnormal in Boston as in the rural area where I grew up.) Once, we were in the Dominican Republic and he started talking to a wedding party on the beach. They gave him champagne and invited him to the reception!

    I am also an only child, but outgoing and know how to share. :)

  7. Paul on October 18, 2010 10:30 pm

    We have definitively decided to not have a sibling for our 19 month old daughter. We catch some grief from folks who suggest that she will be ‘lonely’ and otherwise suffer. Columns like this confirm that our decision (which is based on sound medical reasoning) is the right one and those folks recommending otherwise are loons.

  8. bluemoose on October 19, 2010 2:12 pm

    I am not an only child. I have a younger brother, whose presence I resented from day 1. I used to fantasize about which people we’d see out in public might be persuaded to take him home with them — the pool narrowed as he got older and less cute, and evaporated entirely by the time he was age 11 or so. Never did offload him.

    But personally, when I’m out for a walk alone, I never imagine finding dead bodies, not even in the cemetery (my zombie fantasies only occur in downtown Boston). I often wonder if this were the musical montage section of a movie, where would I be going and what music would be playing?

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