The other day I went to the doctor and found out I have a leaky heart valve. Don’t worry Mom, it’s not going to kill me. It’s a benign condition. The worst thing that happens after being diagnosed with a leaky heart valve is the freaking out that you have a leaky heart valve. You obsess and convince yourself that you can feel the leaking. And then you think, great, you’d be one of those otherwise-healthy people who suddenly drops dead after riding Epcot’s Mission:Space or after running a twenty-six mile marathon due to some vague “heart condition.”
And then you tell the doctor, “I rode on Mission:Space when I was there on my honeymoon in September, and I didn’t die. So that’s how I know my heart is fine. Right? Right?”
The doctor just laughs warmly and noncommittally and says he likes that ride with “that runaway train.” Then he sends you off to a dimly-lit room with someone named Donna where you will undress and be slathered with goo and be forcefully prodded with a magical heart-listening wand.
But first he asks, “what’s that runaway train called?”
“Thunder Mountain,” you say weakly.
My backwards bleeding heart is called mitral valve prolapse, and it actually explains why I’m so crazy. The uneven rushes of blood to the brain and nervous system causes anxiety and hair-trigger reactions. Which is me. So I’m a little neurotic. In fact, it’s one of my better qualities. People love neurotics. Every book and movie and album is always made by some neurotic with deeply-buried insecurity issues. Neuroticism sells as well as sex and Coca-Cola.
In other news, I’ve decided my new hobby is Legos. I have no idea if I’m doing it wrong by pluralizing Legos or if it’s only the singular Lego, which makes it sound like a cold-hearted and faceless empiric entity. But on a whim, I decided to buy an Alien Conquest UFO kit the other day after browsing the toy aisle at Target. I expected my wife to grimace when I came home and proudly announced my new idea for my next hobby, but instead she was excited. Apparently, they’re very therapeutic to crazy people.
“They’re a good focused activity for people with anxiety disorders,” she said in her therapist voice.
A-ha. See? It’s all connected.
So I feel like I’m eight years old or something, proudly declaring my new hobby, my next new thing. In fact the last time I played with Legos I was probably eight, and I was a very volatile eight-year-old. I blew through hobbies from dinosaurs to Shrinky-Dinks to looking at things under my microscope kit—things like food crumbs and grass blades and other important science stuff. Then there was the rock phase. Not rock-n-roll; actual rocks. Good rocks. Shiny and smooth ones.
As I grew up my hobbies became narrower, stubborn and set in their ways. Do adults even have hobbies? Well, the weird ones do—and it’s always the weird ones. When I think of adult hobbies, I think of stamp collecting, model glue, and train sets. And then I think of beards and suspenders. I don’t want to think about that anymore.
Maybe “interests” is a better word. Interests is that word we’re always using to sell ourselves to others—to new acquaintances, friends, potential significant others. My interests are music, collecting toys, writing, reading, football, and exercising. There. I think I perfected that just enough to make me seem well-rounded, somewhat quirky, and intelligent. I think a lot people would buy that package. Especially one that is as good-looking as myself. My wife bought it.
Of course, what these interests actually mean is I will dump hundreds of dollars on stereo equipment, fill our living room with a few hundred ratty old records, fill our basement with random figures and toys, and fill our bedroom with dozens of books stacked in haphazard piles. As for football, I will not only watch our game on Sundays, but all of the other games, too. Hours and hours, all day, every Sunday, for the next sixth months. Furthermore, I will read all the news stories talking about the games and follow fan forums of opposing teams and speak at dinner about how stupid other fans are. I will do my writing, but not nearly as much as I should because I will be too busy procrastinating and browsing stereo stuff online and still thinking about those stupid fans. Exercise? I was only saying that. I don’t really like it. At all.
Maybe “obsessions” is the best word. Like anyone, I have my obsessions. But really what I’m into is just eating pizza and watching movies and sleeping in bed. And that’s the key to finding love. You find someone you can do these mundane things with, without screaming at each other. If you find someone who likes the same pizza toppings, can sit through the same movies, and doesn’t kick and punch you in their sleep, that’s it. And if they do kick and punch, you can find a way to laugh about it the morning.
For the record, screaming at each other is perfectly normal in certain situations such as road trips, board games, and camping. However I’ve found it’s best if you never go camping. Ever.
I’ve promised my wife Legos will not become a new obsession. I will not browse the Lego fan forums or research rare kits on eBay. However, I’ve also promised I would watch that subtitled World War I French romance with her. Amazingly, every word in that description is somehow worse than the last.
Nope, I promise, it will just stay a hobby, the connecting together of perfectly-symmetrical plastic little bricks, shiny and smooth. And besides, my hobbies are fleeting and my patience is hair-trigger thin, and next week I shall tell you about something else.