If you’ve spent much time around me, you’ve probably seen me inordinately excited by the sight of a clothespin. Or you’ve been surprised by one in your pocket (Yup. That was me). The clothespin game found me one day during my senior year of college, I noticed something hanging off a classmate’s shirt. A clothespin. “Is this on you for a reason?” I asked, plucking it off. She rolled her eyes and tossed it in the garbage.
A few minutes later someone else found one on the hood of their sweatshirt “How long has that been there?!” she shrieked. We all shrugged. It was then I noticed Josie Adams. Yogurt in one hand, eyes wide and body alert, she reached discreetly into her hooded sweatshirt and pulled from its pouch… a clothespin. She was still, her entire body poised for action, energy radiating from her. She stretched over to clip it onto the fold of an unsuspecting tee-shirt. Carefully, deftly, she settled back into a tight perch on top of her chair. A beat passed. She took a bite of yogurt, and slowly a grin spread across her face.
About half an hour later I heard the sound of wood bouncing off a wall. “What the eff is going on?!” one of our classmates demanded.
Why? Why the clothespins?
It wasn’t until later that I understood. A light tug on my back, I reached around and sure enough: a clothespin and Josie’s silhouette dashing away . “Why ar—“ I began, but then I saw! My professor’s collar: Sticking. Straight. Up. It was tantalizingly perfect. My fingers tingled, my breath caught, and my hand reached forward. I clipped it, so smoothly, so cleanly. A bubble of elation swelled up inside me right alongside the need to contain it. Delicious. And that’s when I knew the point of the clothespin game.
If only everything could feel as delicious as a well kept secret, a perfectly executed joke, staging a surprise.
My habit of covertly attaching laundry tools to people is charming, I’m sure (I’ve even shoved one into a piece of pie) but for me, it’s terribly important. Sheila Graham once said “You can have anything you want if you want it desperately enough. You must want it with an inner exuberance that erupts through the skin and joins the energy that created the world.” And playing the clothespin game is all about playing with exuberance, about how badly someone wants to enjoy their life. If a surprise clothespin isn’t enough to tickle you at least a little, if a clothespin on your shirt can ruin your day, I don’t think I want to spend that day with you.