Sometimes being reprimanded is downright hilarious. When I was in elementary school, I went to the after school YMCA care and my best friend Stephanie and I were always getting into trouble simply by being too hyper. There was this guy who was one of the counselors, named Fred, and when we had finally taken our antics too far he would yell, "COOL IT!" and we thought this was absolutely hysterical. I remember one time in particular (prior to which we had been told to "cool it" by Fred on another occasion, and since then had discussed how amusing we found this to be) we were on the parallel bars on the playground and when Fred started yelling "cool it," we couldn't hold in our laughter. This led him to yell "cool it" more and more, and eventually I think he just gave up and walked away.
Likewise, my dad used to remind my brothers and I that our car was "not a jungle gym!" whenever he would catch us climbing around on the seats of our minivan. It would take so long to gather four whole children into one car, that I think my parents ended up sending us out to the car one by one, and then they would gather their own belongings and come out to cart us to school, church, wherever. It was during these times that we were assembled in the car, sans parents, that we created such games as "Dark." Here is how one plays "Dark:"
1. All four children get in car.
2. Buckle seatbelts.
3. One child, usually the eldest and assumedly most brave, gets out of the car, leaving side door to minivan open, and climbs stairs of garage to the light switch by the door leading to the house.
4. Designated child switches off the light.
5. Brave child walks gingerly, (however quickly to avoid encounters with garage ghosts and goblins), back to minivan, entering through side door previously left open.
6. Eldest child closes door, climbs into his/her seat, and buckles safety belt.
7. All four children sit quietly in the car. In the dark.
8. Game ends when parents, finally ready to go, enter garage and open outside garage door, thus penetrating the darkness with light.
And that, my friends, is how you play Dark. You should try it sometime.
Occasionally, we would opt not to play Dark (because let's be honest it was a little bit scary and one should only play Dark sparingly) and instead we would get roudy and start climbing on the seats. And then, inevitably, every time, Dad would come out of the house and find us "horseplaying," as he and Mom so fondly like to phrase it, in the car, and burst into his angry chorus of "The car is not a jungle gym!" And we would try very hard not to giggle outwardly. Maybe if he would have just said "playground" like a normal parent (I understand it is far too much to ask my father to be normal) instead of "jungle gym," it would not have been all that funny.
Well in the past 48 hours my dear friend Nick has reprimanded his pets for less than ideal behavior, and in so doing exhibited behaviors of a 43-year old man with 3 children, rather than the 24-year old single man he really is. And I am finding this, in the same way that I found Fred and Dad to be, absolutely hysterical.
Last night we returned from a late night dessert run to Nick's parents' house, and their two dogs were going berserk with excitement at our return. We could hear them barking from outside, still as we made our way through the garage, and then as we passed through the laundry room. It should be mentioned here that Nick was wearing something of an old man coat, a gray sport coat, which did not help his image at the moment. Nick opened the door in front of me, finally encountering the dogs, and yelled "Enough!" To which I began cracking up. "You did not just say that, Nick! How old are you?"
Within a half hour, after Nick had kicked Cooper, the amazing however a little too cuddly cat, out of his bedroom, I knocked on his door and asked him to cut off the paper bracelet that I had worn at the Science Center that day. Seconds later Cooper came bounding into Nick's room and landed happily on the bed. Without missing one single beat, middle-aged Nick yelled at the cat, "No! This is not a game!" I could not handle any more after that point; I was laughing so hard. All day today he has been addressed as "Grandpa," because, clearly, he should be.
Here is Cooper, the game-playing cat: