When I was seven years old, I had a boy playmate who constantly pulled my hair and then let me chase him around our neighborhood. It happened too often that the pulling of the hair became the unofficial invitation to play a game of tag. I would chase him for minutes, give him a light punch on the arm, and then the game would reverse. It was my turn to run away from him, as fast as I could, disregarding exhaustion or reason. I reckon we both enjoyed running, regardless of whether it was away or towards the other.
When we were 13, my friend told me that the reason he always pulled my hair was because he wanted me to chase him; and that he liked the idea of him chasing me in return. That it wasn’t just merely the love of running. It was the love of the chase. Because apparently he liked me.
It was the thrill of the chase. I’ve heard this concept over and over again when I was growing up, mostly in the context of relationships. The more he liked you, the more he’ll pursue you. Even Morissey sang about it. The more you ignore me, the closer I get. It somehow became a Relationship Rule. If he’s willing to pursue you despite multiple rejections, he’s a keeper. It means he is determined, and that equaled somehow to undying affection and love.
It wasn’t true with us, though, was it? Sometimes, the relentless chase is exactly just that–an endless game of pursuit, sometimes veiled with a more noble reason to make up for the fact the what both of us were doing is stupid and pointless.
For the record, I didn’t ask you to chase me. I didn’t run away. I didn’t want to be chased. I wanted to be left alone. I wanted space.
As a child, a game of tag was fun. As an adult, not so much. I got used to the concept of having someone chase me after I’ve already caught him. But I hadn’t really stopped and asked myself, “to what end?” Now at 27, I am ready to dismiss the game entirely. I am ready to tell him off, whoever he is, and say never mind. Never mind the chase. Never mind the running. Never mind the chaser. What I want, instead, are frozen waffles.