Today, even though the sun shining through my window gives my body reason to celebrate, the flu, phlegm, and snotty nose that accompany my thoughts are anything but playful. However, since I do feel a tad better, I may as well begin this dissertation.
Hold on, the phone just rang. So far this morning I have won four games of solitaire (Australian Patience), 4 of 8 games of snood, and lost one attempt at extreme sodoku. Stalling is one of my strengths.
I am thinking seriously about going to Woollies in search of a new box of tissues. I've finished three boxes in the past two days. To curtail the spread of vermin to other residents in the house, I also need anti-bacterial wipes for the handset after I say 'hello' with a cheery croak.
Whew, I just had another opportunity to avoid this topic altogether. Graham is driving his daugher to the Brisbane Women's to work. I was invited to join them – a lovely thought – 'Let's get Dorothy out of the house – the sunshine might do her some good!'
I declined. After all, I am a dedicated author – besides they both would have hated me by the time we reached the hospital drop-off as I sneezed virus into the car after repeatedly smothering my lungs' plea for relief. I am beginning to take official responsibility for these nasty little invaders coursing through my bronchiales.
I never get sick. I mean, never! Either my immune system is growing old and feeble – unlikely – or there are invaders here in Oz that are very different form the same fellows in the USA Urgh! Death to virus in my sinus!!
I am taking all the requisite formulas that come off the shelves of health food stores on line; Wellness is an important aide, and Boiron, of course, as well as way too many propolis from Kiwiland. I'm beginning to think all this pill popping is to no avail, but it could be worse. I could be bedridden, moaning and whinging, immobilized by a concoction of virus invaders that keep me from leaving my warm flannel sheets.
But all of that aside, I am prevailing on myself to remain here at my keyboard and write this damn thing: to allow my stuffed up self to seriously – yeah right – seriously consider what is playful and what I most enjoy in playfulness with my partner.
Perhaps this topic is too revealing of our inner selves? I understand that Lorraine is also having difficulty coming to terms with writing this week. Shampoo is more her style – you know – fashion, beauty – all that health food stuff from her professional past gives her several tangents on which to embark.
But, for me, that is not the case. I can finish this piece by midafternoon and head over to Mt. Cooth-tha for a walk. There I can clear my lungs and spit to my heart's content and no one will notice. I can empty my head and bronchiales of all the amazing white sputum my body is producing in its internecine warfare.
Yeah – so what makes me laugh? What makes me happy with my partner? What makes me feel playful? Since, that's the real topic, let's leave this illness behind and pretend to be well – cause even though I'm sick – 'well' is my mantra. Acclimatise to the culture and just 'get on with it.'
George Carlin died recently. What a fool to give up so soon – heart disease of some sort brought on, some say, by years of experimentation with his favourite drugs. Well, good on'im – quality of life is more important than longevity. Otherwise why would any of the three of us actually be writing this thing?
You do know that I am popping pills in between paragraphs, don't you? Get the picture – three lines and a propolis between the teeth – can't swallow the little hexagonal goodies – have to squash them first – obsessively squash them.
Ok – back to playfulness...not with pills but with men who really are pills - you understand the American vernacular?
Are you getting an idea of how my mind works? – Remember, I mentioned Carlin's irreverence? He was – happily so – caustic, uncultured, always in black, confrontive – yep – it's all his fault that I am writing this way today - an inept woman's version. Oh, and Lorraine's. Don't you just love the way she hand-wrote the shampoo article. I wish I could hand write. Can't read a word of it. But anyhow, back to Lorraine. Don't you just love how she carried on about shampoo, cheerfully confronting capitalist corporate decisions to urge us to chemicalise our hair – to no good results?
Well, I loved her piece – and thought it might be ok for me to do my version – voila! Yeah, I know – she does it better, but this is a beginning. I have to practice before I publish – you understand? I know you do.
And if my fingers don't wear out – I mean grow weary before I get to the topic at hand, I will actually write about playfulness – eventually, of course.
So – playful with Graham.
Starts with a pat on the ass. Oh, I do love his larger than life hands – huge hands, almost twice the size of my own. I love to have him pat me on the butt with just a shadow of a squeeze. I know it's there, but it doesn't quite manifest. You know the feeling?
That makes me happy, makes my body sing. Makes me know that sometime later in the day – cause he really is a night-time lover, we will have a little intimate connection – only it really never is little. Mostly, it is one of those amazing, life threatening grapples with passion.
I have waited my whole life to have sex that left me feeling fulfilled and exhausted and celebratory all at the same time. Now, I know a lot of folks who say that having a good sex life isn't what is most important in a relationship. Having a sharing, trusting, safe relationship is what is most important. Those folks may be right.
However, I suspect that for me, sexual playfulness provides the physical interlude that creates a psychological space where we can tolerate all the other stuff that often gets in the way.
My snotty nose and frequent low decibel farts, his belly button on the outside of his shirt – I used to care about what men wore. I thought a fellow's socks told a great deal about him. And then I discovered this tall lanky Aussie dude at LAX one June morning in 2000 who was dressed in faded levis, a plaid shirt and carrying a pink bag. His hair was ruffley from twelve hours in economy across the Pacific. The leathery skin on the back of his neck reminded me of pug dogs, his grey eyes were tired, and his hands – Yes, that is the subject on which I have come to talk to you.
His hands are the center of playfulness for us. And my hands, too. But I'll get to that later.
After we left the airport and headed for the Sierra Nevada, we stopped in a huge empty parking lot of a suburban supermarket into which eventually we would go shopping, and I made my first 'safe call'. Whilst I was dialling my mobile still sitting behind the steering wheel, he stretched out on the bench seat and put his head in my lap. He placed his huge, strong, wide thumbed hand on my knee.
Ah, playfulness? Yes, it was a ploy. How did he know that just his touch would have such an enormous effect? To what school did this bloke go that he knew?
I stumbled through the phone call indicating that I was safe, that I would call on the morrow to report again. But, safe I was not. My entire body resonated to that hand. What promises it held. Thumbs are under rated even in the best reports given of them, but that is also another story.
I hung up and we sashayed into the almost empty store. Please imagine in your mind's eye a brand-new, wide-aisled, American supermarket where colourful eye-catching merchandising prevails, where product is perfectly stacked with all labels pointing in just the right direction at the best possible level to catch your attention.
Here we were, two virtual strangers, about to embark on our first shopping extravaganza together. I had no idea what foods he preferred and he knew nothing of my tastes – well, that, too, is another story
First I skipped – in my blue, spaghetti strapped sundress and Mary Janes; I skipped down aisles. When he caught up with me, I stumbled, and laughing he provided my balance as we celebrated what seemed to be displayed just for us. Seemed like a quarter-mile of cereals, a whole back wall of cheeses, all of which looked very much like American orange. We checked out the frozen food aisle to see if either of us would fit in the chest freezers. We swooned over the wine shelves – five rows deep and forty yards long. And we squeezed the chip packages to see if they were really fresh. Carefully, we avoided squeezing the white bread, knowing that we might end up having to buy what we destroyed.
In this staid warehouse of goodies, I rode on the front of the super market cart; he pushed and twirled me in a lovely dance. We laughed. We kissed. Oh what a lovely kiss – not passionate, but a playful brushing – new smells of each other added to the connection. Giggling, we gossiped with the checkout clerk and walked out of the market hand in hand while his huge other hand pushed the cart across the bitumen.
The rest of our trip to the cabin was quiet, uneventful. Along the four-hour drive through the desert, he fell asleep on my lap and I drove with one hand on the steering wheel and one hand on his soft grey curls.
When I think of that time again, I know why I fell in love with him. The playfulness of coming to know one another is the most persuasive aphrodisiac.
What do we need to continue that process? We need to playfully continue the process, but that is so much easier written than acted upon. Sometimes, it seems that there is nothing new to discover – hardly a possibility – for we are complex humans who have lived sixty years or more and have adventures, stories, and secrets that we have not yet begun to share. We must reinvigorate ourselves to include discovery – playful discovery.