You know what I like? I like it when I find out other people share my strangeness. Here’s the always amazing Mindy Kaling in the New York Times about make-believe families:
[S]ince I was little, I’ve pictured countless different versions of that family. The weirdest things will make me dream up an entirely new version. When I’m watching television and I see an ad for a hotel chain where “kids eat free.” Photo frames that have a fake picture of a family inside them already. Driving by Sizzler.
[…] Alex and I lived in Hancock Park — a hip Los Angeles neighborhood — and I loved him so much that I was in a perpetual state of grinning. The kids were, I don’t know, kids. Really cute, etc. I have less experience with cute kids than I do with cute guys, so I’m not able to describe them as well, but trust me — super cute.
The problem with being a writer of romance and romantic situations is that my capacity for creating and believing in fantasy is huge.
Oh, my God! Mindy totally snuck into my room one night and planted a thought-reading chip in my brain, didn’t she? Where is the bloody tinfoil?! Give me the tinfoil!
Seriously. I’m not a writer of romance per se – although I’d argue most writers have tangled with romance at some point to some degree and as such I definitely qualify – but I am a Bollywood watcher and my disbelief has been suspended so far, it’s now floating somewhere in space, looking for a new home.
So while I remain unconvinced about the possibility of getting married at all or having children some day, this fantasy of the life I will someday lead sounds extremely familiar. Real life people never touch off the impulse in me even though I’ve been lucky enough to meet a number of couples who clearly have something better than good going on between them in spite of their unique challenges (and all of them have experienced significant ones – a thing that makes me admire their coupledom even more).
But I watch a scene from a film or an ad on TV or a billboard or a snatch of prose – and immediately, I’m spinning a tale around it. I’m Martha Stewart running an empire from my kitchen; I’m Oprah Winfrey talking people into building my mega-millions; my eye sight has improved to the point where I regularly knit the most marvelous outfits for the people I love without once throwing up and collapsing for a week; I nonchalantly cook seven course meals on a whim with the leftovers in my fridge without burn marks and bandaids sprouting all over my hand; I’m the parent that every teacher runs from at my kids’ school… show me something and give me two seconds to improvise. I’ll have an entire life laid out.
So of course I’m a committed baby-namer and have names all picked out for my future non-existent children that I’m not sure I want. Multiple ones, even. Sorry if you had plans, future non-existent husband that I’m not sure I want! Maybe we can insert a middle name or something as long as it goes with the totally amazing names I’ve already decided upon. And sorry also to the future non-existent babies I’m not sure I want if they had ideas about gender or the order in which they plan to make an appearance – I’ve already drawn up a plan and all you really need to do is show up as requested.
What’s that you say, Mindy?
When I started remembering that this fake family was fake, I started missing them. By the Centinela exit on I-10, I had depressed myself, and nothing had even really happened. Oldie Christmas music was playing on the radio, which made me feel even sadder, and I started to cry.
Well. Okay, so I’ve never cried over my fantasy family’s fakeness. But I have cried real tears over the imagined terrible things that are going to happen to them. I guess I should mention that my fantasy families are all tragedies. Terrible ones. My future non-existent husband and babies should be glad I’m not sure I want them.
I know, right? Why bother to make up an imaginary family if you’re going to blow them up, murder them, break them apart, perish in airplanes, etc?
Well, if it made sense it wouldn’t be strange, now would it?