There’s a scene in one of my favorite books (or films, if you’ve seen it) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, where the patients are playing Monopoly.
“Not that one, you crazy bastard; that’s not my piece, that’s my house.”
“It’s the same color.”
“What’s this little house doing on the Electric Company?”
“That’s a power station.”
“Martini, those ain’t the dice you’re shaking—”
“Let him be; what’s the difference?”
“Those are a couple of houses!”
“Faw. And Martini rolls a big, let me see, a big nineteen. Good goin’ Mart; that puts you—Where’s your piece, buddy?”
“Eh? Why here it is.”
“He had it in his mouth, McMurphy. Excellent. That’s two moves over the second and third bicuspid, four moves to the board, which takes you on to—to Baltic Avenue, Martini. Your one and only property. How fortunate can a man get, friends? Martini has been playing three days and lit on his property practically every time.”
“Shut up and roll, Harding. It’s your turn.”
Every time my girls are doing something that completely boggles my mind, I think of McMurphy (Jack Nicholson, in the film), the least crazy of the crazies, trying to play a nice game of Monopoly that keeps getting marred by rolls of nineteen and disappearing dice.
The other morning, I really felt as if I were in a nuthouse, as both my girls seemed to have flipped their lids simultaneously. It was after breakfast, and I was attempting to enjoy a cup of coffee on the couch while the girls played with their toys in the living room.
“Darzy! Mom, where is Darzy?” Lucy yells out of nowhere.
“Who is Darzy?” I ask, because I have no damn clue.
“He’s a guy! Oh boy. Oh boy.” She jumps around the living room. “We have to find him!” She gets on her pretend phone. “Hello? Hello? Help! We have to find Darzy!”
In first grade I had an imaginary friend, an orange turtle, who lived in my desk at school. I cried when I had to leave him for recess (sidenote: I don’t know why the turtle couldn’t leave the desk because he was imaginary and I made up the turtle rules. I should have been smarter about that.) I’m afraid that Darzy is Lucy’s orange turtle, come like four years too early.
“Lu, what does Darzy look—” But I’m interrupted by Charlie, who has discovered that the louder she yells, the quicker she gets my attention.
“More what, sweetie?”
She grins. And then she turns back around to her play kitchen and keeps making play cookies.
While I was distracted, Lucy has been telling her Darzy-is-lost-sob-story to our dog, Nudge. “You have to find him, Nudge! Use your powers for good!” Because a 13-pound dog clearly has a choice whether to use his powers for good or evil. Lucy is trying to compel his tiny King Cavalier brain to go after an imaginary lost soul.
“Let’s go boy. On a hunt. Sniff this.” She holds a bubble wand under his nose, because imaginary Darzy’s leave a scent of bubbles in their wake, naturally. “Let’s find the trail!” And with that, Lucy straps on Nudge’s leash and they go Darzy-hunting around the house. I put my feet back up, take a sip of coffee, and then promptly get a wooden cookie shoved in my mouth.
“Yummy!” Charlie laughs.
I gag and remove the wooden cookie. “Gentle, sweetie.”
Yes, of course I want more wooden food pushed down my throat. She toddles back over to her kitchen and I hear some banging around. A moment later she comes back and shoves a felt sandwich in my mouth (you would think that I could stop a 15-month-old child from shoving things in my mouth, but she is freakishly strong).
“Yummy!” She exclaims. We go back and forth like this for a while, she shoving odd bits of pretend food in my mouth and me trying not to 1) gag, 2) spill my coffee all over her naked body (did I not mention both my kids are perpetually naked? All. The. Damn. Time.)
Naked Lucy returns with a somber-looking Nudge on his leash.
“Mom, I can’t find Darzy!”
“Sweetie, I would help you but I don’t know who Darzy is.”
“Darzy is one of the knocks.”
“Well I’m glad we cleared that up,” I shrug.
I get up from the couch and go pour myself another cup of coffee, because I’m living in a nuthouse, but without any of the good drugs: only coffee (booze after 5pm. Okay, 3pm). I’m trying to play Monopoly and all they want to do is eat the pieces and change the rules. And that’s okay, because they’re kids. But it doesn’t make them any less insane.
After a few sips within the quiet walls of the kitchen, I figured: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. So I went back into the living room to hunt for Darzy and make imaginary eggplant cookies. At least my fellow inmates are pretty damn cute.