Weevy has always been, in her own strange way, into acting. She’s loved improvising role-playing games pretty much since she’s been able to talk. I remember when she was about three, she fell in love with the original Powerpuff Girls animated show. It’s a weird, dark show (in its original incarnation, at least — now it’s back on the air in severely defanged form), but Daddy Censor found the goofier, less freaky episodes for her. At Gymboree, her favorite game to play for a while was “Bubbles [the cute blonde Powerpuff Girl] Gets Thrown In Jail By Mojo Jojo [the evil, Chinese-accented monkey who plots world domination].” The script went something like this: Weevy would be behind bars, because they had something at Gymboree that could function as a jail cell. I played Bubbles’ Powerpuff cohort, Blossom.
Me: Bubbles, what happened? Why are you in jail?
Weevy: [in a sad, quiet voice] Mojo Jojo put me in jail.
Me: Oh no, what are we going to do?… WAIT A MINUTE, there’s a hole in the wall! I think it’s big enough for you to escape!
Weevy would snake through the hole, there would be much rejoicing, and then we’d pretend to beat up Mojo Jojo. Repeat as many times as it could be repeated in a 45 minute free play session at Gymboree.
But one day, she seemed to say the lines with a little more feeling each time, her practiced frown a little more pronounced. The second or third time around, I got to my line, “Bubbles, what happened? Why are you in jail?” She gave me the most heartbreaking look I’ve ever seen, and then burst into uncontrollable sobs. I guess the plot was too tragic for her to handle, despite the happy ending.
Since then, the role-playing games have continued, although that particular one was soon abandoned. Most of these sketches involve me playing multiple roles — three or four is the norm, though I’ve done eight on occasion — while she plays one character, who is often as not asleep, unconscious or mute. Fortunately, I’m gifted with a wide array of voices at my disposal. I’m also a pretty good mimic, which allows me to impersonate with some accuracy many of the characters in her favorite TV shows and movies. The fact that our playlets are often plot-free and deathly boring makes the opportunity to do lots of voices their saving grace.
But as of last week, I’ve been unilaterally forced to act only in my natural voice. I’m a wiseass by nature, so I’ll always introduce myself by saying, “It’s me, [name of female character]. I know I sound like a grown man, but it’s really me.” The other day I finally asked her why she doesn’t want me to do voices anymore. She said, “I know you’re really good at them. But when you’re doing your voices I feel like I’m really in the movie and I get shy. So just talk like yourself.”
It’s hard to argue with a compliment like that.
When she does give herself a speaking role, I’ll usually start her off with a softball of a line, to establish the plot or generally get the ball rolling. “Hey, Rarity, are you excited about our tea party?” Or, “Elsa, you look beautiful! Is that your coronation dress?” But no matter how meticulously we’ve worked out the plot, she will almost inevitably collapse in tears: “Daddy, I don’t know what to SAAAAYYYYYYY!”
“Weevy,” I usually reply, “you can say anything. I’ll just roll with it. There’s no wrong thing to say. You want to say ‘Derek Jeter,’ I’ll say, ‘Wow, Derek Jeter’s in Ponyville! How exciting! Let’s invite him to our tea party!’ You get what I’m saying?”
And the usual response: “I want to play with my iPad.”
I tell ya, it’s a good thing Meryl Streep didn’t have an iPad growing up.