An imaginary conversation about the overactive imagination

Sometimes when I’m reading your book, it’s hard for me to separate the main character from you.

That’s normal, I guess. He is based on me. But he’s fictional.

Yeah but when he’s checking to make sure the doors are locked and the coffee maker is off, that’s doesn’t have the same impact on me as when he’s screwing the stripper.

Also normal, sweetheart.

I suppose, but I can’t say I like those parts.

I understand. It’s mostly imaginary though, and you don’t need to worry about those parts.

But I do have kind of an overactive imagination. I can’t help it. I don’t like it when the fictional version of  you fucks imaginary strippers.

Not everything is totally fabricated in the book though.

That statement didn’t help my overactive imagination at all.

That’s why you need to write.

To get all the imagining out of my system?

Yeah. Put it on paper instead of letting it take over your brain!

Given that they don’t have Overactive Imagination Anonymous, it’s either writing or the asylum.

You aren’t crazy. Much.


No. Just a little nutty around the edges. In a good way. It’s your creativity leaking out.

You say the nicest things…

Because you’re full of great things. Like your imagination.

You don’t think I need Overactive Imagination Anonymous?

Only you would even think of such a thing.


It’s a good thing. You could make up a whole story about it.

No one would want to read a story about Overactive Imagination rehab.

I bet they would!

What would the 12 steps for that look like?

It’s YOUR overactive imagination rehab, you tell me!

If I was imagining it, I’d make it imaginary rehab that you only had to go to in your own mind because I wouldn’t want to have to drive to any meetings.

Wouldn’t that be cheating?

Not if you imagined it honestly.

Well, who would call you out on it if you were being dishonest?

Your counselors.

In  imaginary imagination rehab.


There are counselors?

There would have to be. Otherwise, who would rehab you?

You would.



It’s complicated, because it’s imaginary and for the imagination both at the same time.


Should I explain it some more?

I’m not sure.

Fuck yes, or it’s no!

Then fuck yes!

Hmmm. That seems like it might be insincere.

No, I’m really curious. In the 12 step program for Overactive Imaginations Anonymous, what would the steps be?

The first step is pretty straightforward, and just carries over from any other 12 step program:  admit that you are  powerless over your imagination and that your life has become unmanageable.

A good start.

I have problems with the second step.

Why is that?

It’s the one about a higher power. I don’t believe there is one, or that (s)he can restore me to sanity.

What will you have instead?

Believe that you yourself have the power  to restore your own sanity.

Interesting. So even though you are powerless in step one, you regain some control in step two.

Yeah. Step three is also a problem, because it’s turning your life over to that higher power I don’t believe in.


So MY step three would be to make a decision to turn your power over to your own self to direct your imagination in more creative, productive and positive directions.

So you aren’t saying that you should cut it off.

No, just not to waste the energy worrying.

OK. And step 4?

Steps 4-10 are essentially the same as the traditional ones: moral inventory of yourself, admitting the nature of your wrongs, being ready to correct your own flaws and willing to do the work, making a list of the people you’ve harmed and making amends…continuing that process on an ongoing basis.

How is this different from any other self help schtick?

It isn’t. It’s not magic, it’s just self improvement 101.

Carry on. So you’re on step 11.

Thank you. That is to seek to improve self awareness through thought and directed imagination in order to gain the power to continue to direct your imagination in those previously discussed productive, creative and positive directions.

Using your own imagination to combat its own pernicious tendencies? Nice. And lastly?

It’s really sexy that you just used the word pernicious in conversation.

Let’s try to stay on track here.

Right. Lastly, we try to spread that message to other people suffering from overactive imaginations and to practice these principles daily in our lives.

Doesn’t that seem…

Like a bunch of hooey?




But not as much of a bunch of hooey as some of the other 12 steps. Personally, I think turning your troubles over to someone else is just asking to absolve yourself of responsibility.

You think it’s all on you?

Yes and no.


Well, sometimes we all need help from friends and family. But in general we should be trying to become better grownups.

And grownups are responsible for their own imaginations.

And by extension, their lives.

I have to apologize.

About what?

I thought you pulled this whole theory out of your ass.

You mean that I’d never given it much thought?


You thought that the person with the overactive imagination wouldn’t have given some thought about what the new and improved 12 step program would be? Really?

You’re impressively weird sometimes.


I meant it as a compliment.

I know. That’s why I thanked you.

What else do you use your imagination for?

Work scenarios. Rewriting the past. Sex.

Do tell?

It’s more of a hands on demo.

Are you sure you need to correct your overactive imagination?

You let me know what you think after the demo!





An imaginary conversation about not being ticklish

I like it when you do that…

It doesn’t tickle?

No, I’m not ticklish.


No, when I was 8 years old or so, I decided not to be ticklish anymore.

Is that even possible?

Yep. I did it, so it must be possible.

Is that a challenge?

Not at all. I am confident in my unticklishness at this point.

I may still have to test that statement.

I would expect no less. I am ready for the test at any time.

I’ve never heard of anyone getting over being ticklish before.

It wasn’t easy.

How did it work?

I had to get someone to tickle me, and resist giving in to the ticklish feeling. Over and over. Eventually I just stopped being ticklish.

That sounds fun.

It wasn’t. I hated being tickled.

Who did you get to tickle you?

I don’t remember. That’s weird. It seems like I should remember that.

Some random stranger off the street?

No, it must have been a neighbor or a friend or something.

A boy or a girl?

Seems like it would have to have been a boy. But I really don’t remember. It could have been one of my friends, I guess.

If you’re expecting to be tickled, it would be fairly easy not to give in.

Yeah. The surprise tickles were harder to overcome. It took quite a while. Maybe a year. I think it was when I was in the  third grade.

Did it ever get to a point where you liked being tickled?

No. Eventually it was just  neutral. Sometimes people, well, always boys, wouldn’t believe me.  They’d tickle me. Get annoyed because it didn’t make me squirm.

Did you tell them you weren’t ticklish?

Yep. But they never believed me.

Then what would they do?

When they didn’t get a reaction they would tickle harder and harder until they’d just get angry. I’d get even angrier. At recess one boy straddled me and tickled me until he bruised my ribs. It hurt. He was sorry about that after he let me up again.

He felt bad?

No, I kneed him pretty hard in the nuts.

Then he felt bad?

He felt something. I’ve never liked not having my wishes respected, even if I couldn’t put it into words.

You felt like it was a violation?

I think I must have, though it was an expected and frequent one. Relatives, friends of parents, bullying older boys…I hated for them to have that power over me.

Were you always a such a vengeful little girl?

Pretty much.

But you don’t try to hide it?

Why would I? I was eight at the time. I haven’t kicked a guy in the nuts for decades.

Oh, good.

You’re very safe with me. At least physically.

You feel very safe, at least physically. I suspect I might be in some emotional peril.

I sure hope so. I know I am.

Would you feel better if I reassured you that the emotional peril is extreme?

Definitely. You know how I love any sort of reassurance.

I am happy to provide as much as you need.

And you even mean that!

I do.

Well, anyway, I think the discipline involved in getting over being ticklish might have been good training for things later in life.

Like what? Oh…wait…a few things just became clearer.


I should probably do a thorough check for spots that might still be ticklish.

You have my permission.

Should I wear a cup in case I find a spot you missed?

I think if you just tell me to be very still you should be safe.

Be very, very, very still. And stop laughing.




An imaginary conversation about premature excitement

So I met someone I really had fun talking to the other day.

Where did you meet?

The usual top secret online location.


Try not to sound so openly disgusted.

I thought you meant you’d really met someone.

Yeah, I should figure out a way to be more clear about that. How ’bout “I online met someone fun the other day?”

Better, but the whole online dating thing still baffles me.

You aren’t the only one. It baffles some of the people doing it, too.

You keep saying that.

This guy didn’t seem baffled. He was funny, could use actual words and threw a cold reference to “Get Happy” at me.

Elvis Costello?




You realize that a mutual love of a certain performer is not an indicator of compatibility.



Huh. Well it doesn’t matter because I told him about my blog so it’s over.

What do you mean?

It’s sort of a jinx.

In what way?

Remember the guy who read the whole thing end to end? And the other guy who got so freaked out that he texted me in the middle of the night to tell me he didn’t want to see me again because I was too much?

Yeah, but you weren’t into either of them.

True, but wouldn’t reading my blog mean that he’ll have all of my secrets ahead of time?


So it’s like giving someone an emotional gun pointed right at my head.

You don’t think that’s overstating things?

Don’t I always?

Not infrequently.

Well, anyway my thinking at the time was that if he read it and hated me in it then I’d rather know now.

Like what the hell?

Yeah. I am reinforcing my belief that trust should be my default position.

But some people suck.

So I’ve noticed. But some people don’t. Most people are at least decent human beings. A few are human beings who don’t think I’m some kind of weirdo.

But you *are* some kind of weirdo.

OK, then. A few are human beings who like me because I’m the kind of weirdo they like.

Or love.

Right. Ultimately, someone should love me because I’m their kind of weirdo.

You make it sound…


I was trying not to say it.

It’s OK. I know I’m weird.

But why do you think it’s bad if someone meets you via your writing before they meet you in person?

I’m not quite sure I do think it’s bad. It could lead to being prejudged though.

Doesn’t everything?

I guess.

I’d be more worried about getting too excited before you meet in person.

I thought about that. I decided to be as excited as I am. No more and no less.

You don’t think you’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t work out?


So why not rein it in?

Because I can’t selectively rein in my feelings. I either let them all happen or keep them all from happening.

What about balance?

Shut up.

Don’t hate me because I pointed out the importance of balance.

I don’t hate you. It’s just that I have a history with emotions.

Doesn’t everyone?

Yeah, but I turned mine off for a few decades. I don’t want that to happen again. It was hard switching them on again.

No, but I don’t want you to get all excited and then be hurt if it doesn’t work out.

Me either. But I’d rather be excited and get hurt than not be excited about anything ever just so I don’t ever get hurt.

That makes sense.

It does for me. Other people may have better luck trying that balance shit you mentioned.

You do you.

It’s all I can do!

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