Barry Smith: Irrelativity
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
I can’t believe I’ve just wasted a month of my life.
My little nieces have just arrived for their summer visit, and since it’s been so long since their last stay I thought I’d better get in shape. So for the past month I’ve been training with Rocky-like intensity. My regimen is a grueling one ” jinxing, faking sleep and doinking.
I’ve been “jinxing” at every opportunity. Not jinxing, like committing some bad luck juju jinxing ” as in “I don’t want to jinx it, but …” No, the kind of jinxing where you say something at the same time as someone else, then yell, “JINX!” This magically renders the other person unable to speak until someone utters their name. You know … jinxing.
Jinxing was our favorite game during those carefree niece-filled summers of yesteryear. It was all-consuming and often brutal.
Some people went for entire days unable to speak ” jinxed. Luckily we weren’t playing the “you owe me a Coke” variation, or some of us would still be paying off the interest on huge soda debts.
So, in preparation, when the person taking my coffee order asks if I want room for cream, I say “cream” the same time as they do, then yell “JINX!” Or at least I try to. Sometimes I say “cream” when they’re still saying “room,” or even still back at “may I take your order … ?” Neither of these is an official jinx, it’s just embarrassing. Not that a properly timed jinxing is any less awkward, but still … nobody said training was easy. And jinx practice in front of a TV will only take you so far. You need to go out and get some field experience.
Our other favorite summer game was “faking sleep.” This is exactly what it sounds like ” pretending to be asleep when ” get this ” you aren’t! For example, we’re all sitting around the kitchen table, and Lauren gets up to get something from the other room, and someone at the table whispers “fake sleep!” And we’d really get into it ” eyes closed, mouth open, head slumped over, maybe even some snoring. You know, like you’re asleep! Get it? Then Lauren returns a few seconds later and thinks we’ve all fallen asleep! But we were faking!
It never got old, honestly.
My sleep-faking skills are beyond rusty. It’s been 10 years since their last visit, after all. Ten years! Now when I fake sleep I keep forgetting to close my eyes. Sometimes I stand up by mistake. I’m taking yoga classes to increase the flexibility in my neck for more pronounced head-slumping. I need to ramp this one up, for sure.
I’m feeling pretty good about my doinking technique, though.
Doinking is where you point to someone’s shirt as if indicating a bit of food lodged there. When they look you tweak them on their downturned nose and yell “Doink!”
I’ve been taking an online Aikido course so as to be able to execute a more fluid doink, using the victim’s energy and resistance to my advantage. Doinking is all in the follow-through. Well, and the set-up. Really, there’s a lot to doinking, and I don’t want to go in cold. I have to assume that these kids are in training too, and I don’t want to be the first to get a bloody nose.
So, that’s been my month ” jinx, fake sleep, doink. Repeat.
But there’s one thing I neglected to factor in to my training routine. Math.
My little nieces were 9 and 11 when they last visited. That was 10 years ago. They’re not so little anymore. Apparently a lot more changes take place for a female between ages 11 and 21 than, say, me between the ages of 33 and 43.
They’ve been here for about a week now, and thus far my skillfully executed jinxes, once a catalyst for much joy and giggling, have only been met with blank stares and continued chatter. My sleep-faking is totally ignored ” they’re clearly more interested in actual sleep, and lots of it. My doinking ” well ” borderline creepy.
I’m in tip-top shape for kooky uncle shenanigans ” I even learned some new magic tricks! ” but there’s no outlet for it. What a waste of a perfectly good month.
If anybody’s interested in having a quarter mysteriously appear from behind your ear, please give me a call.
(Next time: Desperate to entertain the nieces, Barry resurrects the old “got your nose” routine. It’s not pretty.)
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