I have to admit that I was momentarily stumped this week when a potential client asked me this question: "Can you give me an example of being playful?" Perhaps if you think about it, this isn't such an easy question to answer. Moreover, as someone who is extremely playful, it is a very difficult concept for me to verbalize let alone summarize into digestible points.
For me, flirting and being playful with someone is strongly tied together. I don't necessarily use the words interchangeably as much as try to broaden someones conceptions about how they interact with others. Many people fear the word flirting, and my thinking is that asking someone to be more playful with others isn't as tough an assignment as telling someone to go out and "flirt" with others.
Yes I'm the youngest child, so it makes sense that I grew up viewing the world in a different way. As the youngest, I was often the one that jokes were played on, and unfortunately for me, I didn't have a younger sibling to pay it forward, so to speak. It wasn't until I met my husband, who is an only child, that I really got to unleash my pent up pandora's box of tricks and pranks. To be fair, he is incredibly smart and intuitive (yes, even engineers can have this quality) and let me know that he was on to me very, very early on in the game.
I've often said that being me and living in my head can be incredibly fun for a variety of reasons. And while I don't have her steadfast dedication, I saw a staggering number of similarities between myself and Chelsea Handler in her newest book, "Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me". I don't generally lie because I honestly don't have the energy to maintain the amount of deceit needed to properly maintain a lie. Clearly, I am no politician. However, I will take delight in giving people inaccurate information if it is something that isn't directly related to my work.
For example, the street I grew up on one was very much secluded. Many people who lived in the area their entire life didn't necessarily know my street existed. It got very light traffic, and the majority of it was people who had gotten lost on their way to their intended destination. I guess looking back, I felt almost violated when strangers found my house so I treated them accordingly. I was a teenager in the 1980's, so this was even before the concept of GPS devices were conceived. On more than one occasion I would send lost motorists in the opposite direction of their destination. If they were looking to go North, I would send them Southwest. I could never send anyone East because I lived extremely close to Lake Michigan, and they would have been on to me pretty quickly...especially if I sent them straight into the lake. So I would send them on their merry, misguided way knowing that they would probably never be able to find my house again if they wanted to nark on me to my parents.
More recently I was spending some much needed time with my BFF. We used to work together and now only see each other on occasion. So I like him to focus his time and attention on me when we are together. We were in his office when he got a phone call from a family friend on the work landline. Now, I should tell you that my best friend likes to talk. A lot. He is the most talky man I know and I sometimes compare him to a girl because of it. So there I was twiddling my thumbs (actually playing angry birds) with my legs up on his thighs during what turned into a very long phone conversation. When I deemed the conversation had gone on long enough, I decided to call his cell phone, which was apparently deep down in his front pocket but the ringtone was still very loud. So there I was, legs up on him, calling his cell phone, and him fumbling around trying to fish it out of his pocket while he was still on the landline. Most people would have probably stopped at 1 or 2 calls. I continued to call until he told his friend he had to go. When he ended the conversation and finally retrieved his cellphone, he began laughing and wasn't at all surprised at what I had done.
I recently met an amazing sex educator friend. We happened to both be in San Diego for a sexuality conference a few months ago, and were trying to coordinate what sessions we wanted to go to. I knew she wanted to attend one that was directly after the lunch break, and it turned out to be standing room only. I literally saved the only chair 2 seats down from me because I knew she was running late, but on her way. When she showed up, she texted me and thanked me for saving the seat for her. My reply text was "no problemo, I told them you were in the bathroom with explosive diarrhea". I heard her snort out loud as she was 2 chairs down from me. Yes, some people might find it uncouth behavior, but I love that she got my joke. I'm also delighted that we have become close friends and she never seems to mind when I goose her **see below** or even inappropriately ghost text her lover when she is in the restroom.
When it comes to my husband, I find that it is near impossible to get anything past him. He is completely observant and always notices when I have gotten my hair cut, or am wearing new jewelry. I was bemoaning how my new iphone case doesn't connect to my car and that I needed to check out wireless/bluetooth adapters. This morning he mentioned that he could run out and look for one when I told him that I may or may not have already purchased one through amazon. He looked at me, laughed, and said, "wait, you may or may not have what?, sounds to me like you already purchased one". I guess I use this "may or may not have" saying often when it comes to our conversations.
Here are a few more examples:
- Well, if you think you have a virus on your computer, is it because you recently downloaded something you shouldn't have?
- Why is our credit card company calling me to verify a hefty purchase at a jewelry store? Did you buy something when you were at (insert jewelry company here)?
- You know, a lot of these spyware apps get you when you go to porn sites? Have you been to any recently?
My husband just reminded me of a story I told him when we first met in college. I was 19 and interning a few days a week at a youth prison. I basically talked to the 2 or 3 prisoners who were assigned to me for tutoring in grade school level math and english. I kept the workbooks in my car for convenience. It must have been one of the first times I drove with him in my car. Not only did he notice the books, but he gave me a shocked and bewildered look because these are clearly not what you would expect from someone attending a fairly prestigious college. Now, I had already told him that I was very bad at math, and didn't want to talk about it because I quickly found out how crazily smart he is. When I saw him look at my books, I just looked him in the eye and said, "umm..remember how I told you how I'm really not good at math? Well, please, please, please don't make fun of me, but those are my books, and can we just drop it?" After what seemed like a pretty long and uncomfortable silence, I broke out laughing and told him that while I am very bad at math, those were the books I used to tutor the youth inmates. He looked at me like he had just dodged a bullet.
I'm also known to goose people pretty indiscriminately. In fact, I've learned to walk up stairs after people because I got goosed so many times growing up. And if I happen to be walking ahead of my husband, I almost always say "no butt touchy". Speaking of goosing and the BFF, I recently managed to get one in as we were hugging goodbye. I got in way further than I expected and screamed out "omg, I got sphincter, I got sphincter!" which I then realized I had to apologize to the passersby for having to hear that.
For what ever reason, it seems to me that the world is made up of 2 distinct people; those who can laugh at themselves and don't take themselves too seriously, and those who are incapable or unwilling to laugh at themselves. The bottom line is that an action like flirting or even being playful is going to be near impossible for someone who is the latter.