My husband (bless his cotton or otherwise socks) has precious little imagination. Or so it seems. I don’t get it. How can you not have imagination? It’s as strange to me as people who do know how to count. Without calculators, without fingers. Surely it’s something that every human being is just born with? What is life without imagination?
Admittedly, mine is perhaps a little overenthusiastic, especially when it comes to disastrous consequences. I am a champion worrier.
My husband looks at things the way most well-meaning adults squint at a three-year old’s masterpiece. Oh so that’s a tree? Oh no, of course, it’s a butterfly, silly me! He can’t see things in clouds and looks at me crazy when I point out a passing dinosaur. Especially when I add that it has now morphed into a shark. Is it possible to pass your life without seeing pictures in the sky or words in number plates? I find it hard to believe, it’s an alien world to me.
He didn’t know that there was a man in the moon. And that everyone knows that. It’s not just me being crazy. Fortunately, he did know that it was made of cheese otherwise I would have really worried about his childhood education. Probably because it was on the telly; they had to take a rocket up there when they ran out of Wensleydale. Everyone knows that the moon is made of cheese. Just don’t forget the crackers.
The lack of imagination means that make-believe, something that I passionately see as both essential and normal in child development, is somewhat challenging. It’s hard to teach a twenty-something year old these life skills. For him, it has to be exactly the same or it just isn’t anything like.
Maybe it is a ‘bloke’ thing, being very literal. He follows instructions religiously. I think out of the box and several solar systems away. He has to have the right tool for the job otherwise it can’t be done. I improvise. He stirs the pan with dedication as directed on the packet. I abandon it to its own devices except for a few intermittent pokes so that I can get on with other things. To him, recipes are Law. Well, you know what I’m like with them.
I nearly passed out the other day when he suggested substituting an ingredient in a recipe that he fancied for something that we did have. I’m a convicted heretic on that score. (Which rather does suggest that bad habits do rub off).
His make-believe tolerance is severely tested when it comes to yarn made toys especially the food that I knit up on a regular basis.
Knitted food does of course have certain limitations. Chiefly, the colour variation or lack thereof. There just isn’t the tonal range of nature in a ball of acrylic. (And yes, I do knit with acrylic, so hang me). Or any other fibre either. Variegated and self-striping, although inherently varied, are a little too regular and uniform for a natural effect. I know that some folk paint shading on afterwards but that’s not really something I want to get into. For lots of reasons.
However, if you went out and bought a set of that much coveted (it was the object of my desires as a child, the closest we ever came was a pizza-shaped pencil sharpener which we adored) plastic fruit it would face the same issues: colour, tone, texture. But then I guess that plastic is just always going to be an acceptable alternative to reality. There’s a more collective understanding of what the shorthand of plastic toys is. Handmade yarn creations, well that’s entirely dependent on your imaginative translation.
If you give a child a box, is it just a box or something else, something more? Perhaps, sadly, to my husband, it is just a box. I see potential. I see beyond the one-time, one-use labels that modern society imposes on objects. A box is always something more to me even now that I’m too big to climb inside aeroplanes or to build myself a house. Or maybe I’m not. It just depends on how big the box is.
What is a world without imagination? I would be more scared if I could better comprehend it. I guess it’s a world where children are tethered to electronic entertainment and ‘play’ with ready formed plastic toys that come with their role, their use clearly predefined.
Sometimes I come crashing up against that modern life, that modern generation in my husband. It is, thankfully perhaps, alien to me. So I will continue to knit strange shapes that claim some semblance to reality and muse at cloud forms. In the meantime, my husband will read how we should properly do something and stop the dinner from sticking. Maybe it’s the best of both worlds.