Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sad Glad Mad Rad

We recently adopted from my sister’s family the dinner-hour pastime “Sad Mad Glad Rad”. The idea is that each person relates an occasion during their day that elicited each of these four emotions (“Rad” referring to “radical”, which is only sort of an emotion, but adds a wild-card element).

SGMR started as a structured way to pass the usually chaotic mealtime. I also hoped it would put us closer in touch with one another.

Little did I know.

SGMR turns out to be no parlor game. It’s a wickedly strong interpersonal-communication catalyst that can foster affection, incite a riot, or make half the table cry. Doing it for real requires that you not only give undivided attention to your loved ones but also wholeheartedly accept what they offer.

One must be open, for instance, to Chicken Little’s nonsensical and achingly unhurried responses. Sad? “Ummmmm, nope.” Mad? (long pause) “My green beans.” Glad? “Daddy.” Rad? (30 seconds of silence) “I naked.”

Or to a tedious dissertation on the plot of “Thumbelina” by Chicken Noodle, followed abruptly by the resurrection of what we’d hoped was a forgotten tragedy. Sad? “Remember that fish we had? It DIED DIED DIED DIED DIED.”

Or to a ten-minute rant complete with bad words and arm waving by Captain Daddy about drivers on Century Drive instigated by “Mad?”

Finally, one must muster a pitch-perfect combination of bravery, courtesy and honesty to communicate one’s own “Sad” when it happens to implicate another person at the table (Ahem, Captain Daddy).

Completing SGMR often takes an entire meal and leaves me feeling that we have partaken of some intense family psychoanalysis, complete with the desire-to-retire-to-the-bedroom-alone-with-a-cocktail aftermath.

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