Goofy

Recently Beth Wilson of B Here Today recommended Monkeytraps to her readers with this comment:

I confess that I haven’t been a regular follower of Steve Hauptman’s work. Until this post: Three rules for recovering from anything.

Normally, this blog is kind of goofy.  I like it, but it’s kind of goofy.  Steve, who is a therapist who specializes in control issues, co-writes Monkeytraps with Bert, his control-addicted inner monkey.  It’s a recipe for goofiness.

This particular post touched me because it addresses the issue of presence as it relates to paying attention to our thoughts, our monkey minds, if you will.  Check it out.

It’s always nice to be recommended.  But I had a surprisingly strong  reaction to Beth’s second paragraph. 

I’m 62 now, and have grown used to certain descriptions of myself.  Serious usually heads the list.  Followed by intense.   And, for many years, trailed closely by angry.

And then there’s always right.   My wife’s favorite.  In fact, I once wrote her a poem summarizing her view of  me:

you’re right

you’re right

you’re always right

you’re right all day

you’re right all night

I get so mad

I want to bite

because you’re

always

always

right 

Can’t remember what inspired that burst of self-awareness, but it was atypical.   During most of our marriage I was too busy being serious, intense or angry.

Never before has anyone called me goofy.

Initially I went back and forth with it.

First I was puzzled.  Why that particular word? 

So, like any seriously serious person, I looked it up.

goofy. Adjective. (goo-fey.)  Ludicrous, foolish.

Then I looked up ludicrous.

ludicrous. Adjective. (loo-du-krus.) Broadly or extravagantly humorous; resembling farce

“Not bad,” I thought.  “Humorous is good.”  I decided to stop looking shit up.

Then I found myself wondering: what in Monkeytraps might strike someone as goofy?

This answer came more easily.  I remembered the photo I used to illustrate various uses of the Bert Mug:

THE BERT MUG.
(Contents not included.)

 And some of the Bert cartoons:

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“Wow,” I thought.  “I am goofy.” 

And, unexpectedly, felt proud.

See, for me the worst part of being a control addict has always been fear of other people.  Convinced of my own inadequacy, I expect criticism, rejection and humiliation if I come out of hiding.  So I spent decades trying to protect myself by impressing people and concealing what I really thought and felt.

But goofy doesn’t care about any of that. 

Goofy isn’t scared to be itself.   

Goofy can relax.  Goofy can play. 

Goofy is free. 

“If I’ve attained goofiness,” I thought, “I must be getting healthier.”

I decided to celebrate.

How? 

Do something goofy, of course. 

So I concocted a plan.  It’s a secret, so don’t tell anyone.

I lead a therapy group that meets weekly.  Five members.  Seriously serious people, all of them. 

My plan:

1. Visit the Family Dollar near where I live.  Buy each group member a plastic bottle of bubbles.  You know, the kind with the wand with the circle at the end.

2. Arrange the bottles on a tray in a circle.  In the center of the circle place a dollar bill. 

3. Present the tray to the group.  Tell them: “Blow the biggest bubble, and the dollar is yours.”

4. Watch what happens.

I’m telling you this as a way of committing to it.  I may get cold feet (i.e., relapse into Seriousness) before the next group rolls around. 

But I want to go ahead with it anyway.  I think it would be good for them.  Goofy is therapeutic.  For me too.

And I have a reputation to uphold.

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My friend Joe knows how to acknowledge his inner little boy. 

When I saw him the other day, he was standing outside the building where we were both attending a meeting.  He reached into the front pocket of his bib overalls and pulled out a small clear tube containing a bluish color liquid.

I watched in amazement as he took the top off the tube, which–you guessed it, was a plastic stick with a tiny oval on the end–and began blowing bubbles.

”Ah,” he said. ”This is a good batch.”

I looked around to see if anyone was watching.

Joe was unfazed.  ”Haven’t you seen me with these? I carry a tube of homemade bubbles around with me most all the time.” 

My question, of course, was “Why?”  To which he answered, “It helps me when I get a case of red-ass.”

Now I looked around to see if anyone overheard. 

“And what is red-ass?” Big Me questioned.

“Red-ass,” Joe said in a matter-of-fact tone, “is when I get so mad that my face turns red and I want to kick somebody’s ass. So I blow bubbles instead.”

~ From B here like a child by Beth Wilson. 
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One response to “Goofy

  • releasing lunacy

    Hi Steve,

    I meant to write something when I first read this last month, but it was a rough month. I absolutely loved this post. I laughed because I see the same goofy, silly, endearing side of you that Beth apparently sees. I giggled at the thought of you not seeing it.

    You write a blog with a monkey! Have you heard the things that come out of Bert?! that come from within you! I love that you were able to think about what Beth said, push beyond any confusion or hurt feelings, and find a bit of goofy inside yourself.

    By the way, when I think of goofy I do think of Goofy (so I’m glad you included his picture). The goofy I think of is not at all foolish or ludicrous in any sort of negative way. The goofy I think of is exactly how you described -not afraid of being a bit silly. And it’s not just being silly for the sake of being silly. It’s being silly in an effort to reach out and into to people’s hearts and minds.

    I can’t imagine you being the way you described yourself. Serious. Intense. Angry. Always right. If I had only that impression of you, I wouldn’t be able to write this. I would have never been able to correspond with you at all. I would never have been able to submit an entry for the mug contest. I would have been afraid of being ignored or rejected by you.

    It’s very interesting the way we see ourselves vs. the way others see us. All-in-all I’m glad you have a bit of goofy in you! It suits you! Thank you for sharing!

    ~rl

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