Friday, February 23, 2007

Secret Lives and Imaginary Friends

I have this really weird hobby....some would call it habit...or obsession, even. PK thinks it's creepy. Anyway, I like to make up life stories of complete strangers. For instance, this weekend we took CT to a waterpark. I spent most of the day people-watching and making up imaginary lives for the other parents at the park.

That guy with the really, really hairy back was too escaped ape from a local zoo. There was a skinny little blond lady that planted herself elegantly on a beach chair for over an hour while 5 or 6 kids came and went and argued and pinched eachother. She barely even noticed them, so I pretended that she's their step-mother, not really a bad one, but one that takes very little interest. Their father is much older than she is and has a good job so she doesn't have to work. All the kids are old enough for school so she spends her days getting her nails done and taking tennis lessons. She only came on this stupid family vacation because there's a spa on-site and her husband promised her a facial if she feigned affection in the kids for a couple of hours. She drank 2 pina coladas while she lie there, so she has a little drinking problem. Plus, she's having a passionate affair with her tennis coach who speaks very little English. Anyway, you get the point. I judge people based on their appearance and make up soap-opera lives for them. Does that make me a bad person?

Sometimes, I don't even have to see the person to envision an imaginary life for them. Do you ever visit a new friend's house for the first time and find that their house is exactly like the one you conjured up in your head when you first met them? Well, it's kinda like that. I peek in open windows as we drive by at night. Then I make up people and lives that must live in a house like that. OK, I'm a peeping Kelly, but honestly, I don't look to catch people in the act or see them standing around in their skivvies scratching themselves. I really hope to see no one at all. That way I can make up whatever wild thing I want about them.

There's this house on our block that always has the curtains open in the living room. The only thing I can see through the window is a grandfather clock and at least a dozen photos on the wall. I imagine this is a grandmother's house. She lives there alone since her husband died a few years ago. She leaves the curtains open because she likes to know what's going on in the neighborhood. She has 4 grown children and 3 grandchildren. She's led a fascinating life as an author. She once had a passionate love affair with a prince of Georgia, but he was imprisoned for political reasons before the fall of the Soviet Union and she never saw him again. She's pretty certain that her husband's best friend murdered his wife 20 years ago and she spends a lot of time trying to prove it. It's a lot like Desperate Housewives in my head. It's a crazy secret hobby, but it entertains my brain when I'm bored. Other people's imaginary lives are so much more interesting than my true life.

So, this morning as I drove by another open window, it occurred to me that there may be others out there like me. If that's the case, then they might have driven past my open curtains over the past few days. What life did they conceive for me? Well, based on this week's chaos. I'm pretty certain that my house resembles a disgusting germ-hole. Both CT and I have been sick so the place is littered with cough medicine and tissues. If it were me spying in through our front window, I would conclude that the household has contracted the bird flu and we were under strict quarantine...not allowed to have any contact with the outside world. I might imagine a giant bubble erected around my bed to keep the infestation from spreading. Only people wearing spacesuits are allowed in the bubble and only at their own risk. I would definitely fantasize about all kinds of awful symptoms and a slow, painful death for myself.

Anyway, since I'm only feeling half-crappy today (a great improvement over utterly crappy like yesterday), I think I'll clean up the den of sickness this afternoon so y'all can imagine a much more cheerful existence for me when you drive by my open window.

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