“Can we play something?”
A long pause. “It’s 6:30 in the morning.”
Impatiently: “I know.”
I have been awake all of fifteen seconds. “What do you want to play?”
“L.A. River, of course.”
I sigh, and pull my robe tighter around me. “I need a cup of tea first.”
This is all the assent she needs. Myra-Jean leaps from her bed and flies into activity. “I’ll get it set up.”
Ever since our trip there last week MJ has wanted nothing more than to play this new game of her own invention. It’s a simple one, really. She spreads a bunch of blankets on her bedroom floor, gets out her bird dolls, drags me (or Mike) down next to her, and spends the next hour squawking. And making us squawk. That’s it. Basically.
Oh, except for the random and assorted objects–a handful of hair clips, a rubber prickly toy, a wooden spoon, a green shopping bag, a plastic vial of bubbles–that have come, inexplicably, to be essential to the game. The ball is hidden and found. The clips go on birds beaks. The rest? I’m not sure. MJ has reasons for each of them. I cannot begin to comprehend them. It matters not at all. I am there merely as an accessory–another player to talk to, a placeholder, an outline to be filled in. I am a tricolored heron, an eared grebe, a pintail. I am a character of MJ’s making; I contribute nothing to the “plot.” True, generally I suggest taking a nap–this is a tactic of mine in every game–but otherwise I have no more agency than the clips, the blankets, or the birds themselves.
Except that this prop requires caffeine. Once I get this I am happy to play. Until breakfast, at least.
One additional plot point I insist upon: the blankets get cleaned up in the end. I don’t want the dog lying on them.The L.A. River may be dirty, but have you seen Mina? We’re talking a major pollutant.