As a child I covered all the normal phases. I did the tantrums (or paddywhacks for those of you familiar with the midland dialect), wore only pink, refused cheese if it hadn’t been melted, broke things and then hid them and crafted daily cards for my best friend and second best friend with clear labels in case they were in any doubt of their position in the hierarchy.
I also had some other stages of development which may or may not point to some neurological ‘abnormality’. At a time when everyone was meant to be developing sympathy towards their fellow man, I was well ahead and just took it to a whole new level. When my younger sister bounced off the bed and cut her face rather spectacularly on the bedside table, I was the one crying and holding my face whilst she bravely sat by and had her bloody little head dabbed in Savlon and carefully mummified. Unfortunately this wasn’t a passing phase. As a teenager if my friends did anything embarrassing, I would blush on their behalf and only this year, I did a wonderful (i.e. spectacularly humiliating) public faint in an aquarium because I watched a video about jellyfish stings where I saw a woman in pain. If I was her, I thought, I’d be on the floor right now! I came round in one of those orange emergency chairs.
At nursery, purely to appease the staff and show them I was happy and normal and knew I was a girl I would choose to play with the toy pram every day. I never bothered to put a doll in it and just raced back and forth until the bell sounded and the whole silly charade could cease and let me get back into my head. It was probably presumed that I was slightly stupid until I emerged from my mind much later and let them know there was actually quite a lot going on in there.
Nowadays I still spend an awful lot of time inside my own head and I don’t think it’s arrogant to let you know that it’s rather fun in there. Don’t get me wrong- I can apply myself when I need to and I don’t often drift off mid-conversation (unless it’s boring). It’s simply that when I have little else to divert me, my mind is the best place to reside. It jazzes things up.
Running can be a bit repetitive, especially if you’re doing the same route regularly, so like many people, I listen to music as I go. But with my headphones in, I’m not just running anymore… I’m in the music video. Don’t be surprised if I’m mouthing something at you with a heartfelt expression when I pass by- I’m not talking to you: I’m in the video. I probably can’t even see you.
Then there’s leaving the cinema. This is a case of too much sympathy again. I couldn’t possibly leave the cinema at the end of a good film without being accidentally and unavoidably in character. Whichever one I felt most sympathy for, I will become. It affects the way I walk and how my face looks too I should imagine, but luckily it diminishes on entering the foyer and I’m usually back to myself by the time daylight hits.
Then there are the thoughts that suddenly occur to me when I’m on my own. An example of this happened just moments ago as I ate my dinner. Suddenly, I had an image in my head of Sean Paul sitting in the lounge. What would you do if you turned around and found Sean Paul in your lounge?! I asked myself this hypothetical question and decided that it could go one of two ways. Either he would start to sing and I would feel obliged to dance at him (probably at this point I would be dressed in nothing but sequins and well-placed feathers), or I would have to find him something to eat and have the stressful multi-tasking fiasco of trying to make polite and interesting conversation with an unexpected celebrity guest whilst rustling up vegetarian spaghetti bolognaise. Hopefully he wouldn’t notice it wasn’t meat because, I though with much indignation, not even for Sean Paul would I cook with beef mince.
I use the Sean Paul example since I can’t really go into details about what happened when I turned round and discovered Gotye going through my cupboards. Naughty Gotye.
So my question is this: is it ok to spend so much time in your own head? To imagine whole conversations with people that never actually happened? To imagine so effectively that you have to be wheeled away in an orange chair to a back room to come round staring at the turtle tank? I think that so long as you remember what’s real and what’s imagined, it’s probably just fine. Oh Charles Dickens- how lovely to see you! (Shit- what shall I feed him? I’m all out of beans…)