I Say Cold Feet, You Say...
If I say the words "cold feet" what is the first thought that comes to mind? A little word association game if you will. Don't over-think it, just spew out the first words that come to mind when you hear "cold feet". Remember there is no right or wrong answer. Well, maybe there is.
If you recall, Old Spice and I are into week five of our Improv Class. Word association is a common exercise in class. It’s not my favorite. I am an over-thinker. But Old Spice is quite good at this. He is more of a quick-thinker than an over-thinker.
Which brings me back to cold feet.
We are rarely paired up in class, by design. Teacher Colin knows what he is doing. Keep the married couple apart. Otherwise, as I recently discovered, Improv can quickly turn into MARRIAGE THERAPY 101.
But on this Thursday, perhaps teacher Colin was feeling the need to be entertained. He put Old Spice and me in a scene together. Just the two of us. For the first time. It's a bit more intricate than this, but basically Colin picks the performers, gives a topic prompt, and you, the "performers", are supposed to just go with it.
Oh, and Colin also gets to choose which performer starts the scene. I generally prefer to start, because as we know, I generally like to control things. If I start I get to set the stage.
So, here we were in our semi-circle in the church basement with our 12 classmates. I was feeling pretty good. The now ritual pre-class cocktail was just enough to get the creative juices flowing. The room wasn't its usual 80 degrees. Class was going well.
I knew my turn was coming up. I was feeling confident. Colin pointed at me. Friendly face, he says to me, "Lauren, come on up."
And then... "Old Spice you come up too." Wait...what? There should be a rule for this! I wanted to shout out “unfair play. Penalty! The ball is out of bounds.”
But there are no such rules in Improv. I just had to go with it. Colin, ever witty, chose Old Spice go first. Then he upped the ante with his choice for scene prompt… "cold feet.”
This is now really unfair play. In fact, this is now LIVE THERAPY with the old newly married couple.
But for once not over-thinking, I immediately think of what I would say if I got to go first. Cold feet... so easy. I instantly imagine the feeling of crawling into bed with my own cold feet, snuggling up with Old Spice, knowing that he loves me enough to let me put my cold feet on his warm body. Loving me enough to know that it's going to feel worse than a cold stethoscope, but enduring the pain because he loves me enough to warm up my feet. Simple. Romantic. Lovely.
But while I was enjoying the momentary, dreamy bliss of the scene in my head... I heard Old Spice setting the live scene. We were on completely different wave lengths.
Old Spice was waving his arms in the air. “I have had cold feet about marrying you... blah, blah, blah. Marriage is hard... that's why it took me so long... blah, blah, blah.” I snapped back to the scene at hand. What?
Old Spice was trying to be funny... but it wasn't working. You should have seen these 12 horrified faces looking back at us from the semi-circle. Never mind... you should have seen my face.
Silence in Improv is good, to a point. What the hell was I going to say other than thank you to my friend for the lovely wedding present. Improv class was her idea! No words came out.
Thankfully, Old Spice saw the horror of where this scene was going. He quickly turned it around. He made it clear he wasn’t referring to me as Lauren as he embellished an imaginary character of a crazy woman who had been married six times and had 10 children and 12 dogs... blah, blah, blah.
Double thankfully, the scene ended quickly, even with a few laughs. I'm certain some of it was pure nervous laughter.
We didn't speak for the entire 22 minute drive home.
Here too, silence is good, but only to a point. I couldn't go to sleep. "Did you really have cold feet about marrying me? Nice of you to let me know in the middle of Improv class. Do you still have cold feet?” On and on... I couldn't let it go.
As I continued to rant, he looked at me with that sweet face and said..."it's an acting class. It's about pretending. What else are you supposed to say when you hear the suggestion cold feet?”
Do most people (normal people, I suppose) think of marriage?
I had to know. So during the week that followed, I actually asked several people, a random survey of all ages. “What do you think of when you hear the words cold feet?”
Survey says? Even my 22 year old daughter agreed that the immediate word association with cold feet has something to do with marriage and second thoughts.
In my unscientific survey, only my beautiful yoga-butterfly-like friend suggested that cold feet meant cuddling with someone you love. For her it was by a fire, to warm your feet together.
In fact, most people do not think of torturing someone with their cold feet as a measure of love.
In fact, nobody even came close to my word association answer. Nobody! Am I all alone here?
Apparently so. But perhaps the scene would have gone way better if I had gotten to go first, Colin. An Improv scene with an overly sensitive, insecure romantic who has cold feet? Who doesn’t want to see that?
What I know is that this is Valentine’s Day week. I am still not wearing socks to bed. I am loved enough to bring my cold feet to bed.
And sometimes you just have to go with it... Welcome to
Improv Marriage 101.
Reprinted with permission from Stuff of Life Blog. See original post here: http://stuffoflifeblog.com/2017/02/16/cold-feet-word-association/
Lauren Chesley is a contributor to LEAD Cincinnati, Venue Magazine and Make it Better, is writing her first book and blogging along the way about the journey of being "unapologetically you" post-50 at http://www.stuffoflifeblog.com.
If you would like to see their final performance, purchase tickets at eventbrite.com.