Teaser 161: You Must Be a Child to Be Good at Free


“When I saw you in the audience, Oprah, it almost shook me, because you didn't tell me you would be there and you had the opportunity, but when I walked out on the stage and did my shaking routine I knew how I would start. I had Oprah, who I would associate with Harpo, to the Marx brothers, to Hitler take-off movies, most not well-received, to World War II, to more Hitler take-off movies, all well-received, to the symbiotic relationship between business and government, as represented by Nazi Germany, otherwise known as fascism, to more associations revolving around fascism, to 'Gee! That sounds like this country!' Once I got there, Oprah, I knew what the next association would be. In fact I knew where it all was leading once I got to fascism, because my firm opinion is this country is either fascist or a plutocracy, and I vacillate between the two, and I don't care what you or anyone else think it is. After all, I am the poster child for incorrigibility. You're not convincing me you're right, and if we tangle about it long enough I'll probably convince you that I'm right. But it led to plutocracy, to a term for when everything is screwed up, 'Mickey Mouse shit', to Pluto, to a very good imitation of Pluto, to 'Isn't that the Attorney General?' End of entire bit, which was the right way to end it, because, above all else, if I want to use free association, I better make it funny, especially at the end. That allows me, waiting for the laughter to subside, to set my next bit. That's how you do it. That's what you can do with free association, if you do it right.”

I remember one of the others present made a comment about how difficult it seemed to be, even though she could follow it. “I don't see how I or most other people could do it so rapidly,” she finished.

I listened to her politely, looking to her as she spoke, but when she finished, I glanced for a moment to Will, followed by a glance just as long to Ken. “The reason Robin could do it so well is the same reason I can do it, though not as well as he could. It's because we both refused to consider 'child like' as something to avoid or to shed. In fact, should you wish to flatter me you could tell me I'm 'child like.' Flattery, though, is still something I consider very skeptically. Remember, what was his name, oh! Benjamin! Remember Benjamin in New York, Drake? 'Are you trying to suck up to me?'”

Drake smiled widely. “I remember him. You did the family counseling with his girlfriend about the boyfriend-girlfriend thing. It was good!”

“Now, he wasn't trying to suck up to me, but it's the point I'm making. Don't suck up to me. Eventually I'll figure it out and have no respect for you. 'Child-like' is thinking, acting like a child. How? You ask because you don't remember what it was like. You've been an adult too long! You don't make those connections any more, but children make those connections every moment. To a child, everything is connected. If you want to be good, even great, with free association, the one thing you must do, is suspend your adulthood, shove it right out of the room, and immerse yourself in the child you once were. Because, once you made those connections, you recognized those connections, you may have even spoken those connections, they came right out of your mouth. But since you entered adulthood you have found it impossible to suspend your adulthood with its supposed logic and rationality, so you no longer make those connections. Free associations can never be achieved remaining in the adult aspect of human life. You must be a child, or you will fail.”

Jana suddenly spoke up. “Child like is often how I think of you, Gregory.”

“Did I not say when you choose the time to open up and shine, Jana, it's always at the right time?” I asked the room. “Did I not say that?” I looked to Jana with great appreciation and she smiled warmly, even confidently, while I heard both John and Drake affirm. “It's easier for me to do than you. I have grown daughters, in their twenties and thirties making their own lives, and I have never considered myself the stern, over-bearing, strict fatherly type, exactly what most of my contemporaries are. I'm not that. I will never be that. I will always try, really try, to look at everything in this world with wonder, and fascination, and awe, and pull all of it in to try to understand it, to learn from it, like every child alive. I will do it for every thing except one, when you fight. For that I will take no part and I will walk away. I will let you drown in your own delusion, for you will never create a better world that way and the tragedy is you will lie to yourselves in your pathetic attempt. And should you succeed, you will break my heart, for, while John talked about star-crossed lovers the other day and how it seems so unnecessary, you will break my heart with your fighting because it is completely unnecessary!”

- Just Desserts, Segment NineteenAnother Show in Chicago” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

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