Kina and I have a game we play, in which various celebrities and household friends attempt to wake Queen Elsa from a feigned deep sleep. In most of these games, she is flying on an airplane to Italy and sleepy because she has eaten unlimited gummy bears. It is assumed that she will not be easy to wake; still, should her competitor succeed, the penalties are enormous. This game is related to, but distinct from, a game I have talked about before in these pages. In that game, the penalty for waking Baby Rainbow Cat is that the waker cannot stop farting. In this one, however, you are frozen forever by Queen Elsa in a block of ice.
It seems strange that we have a game in which the entire goal of the offensive team is designed to result in a debilitating existential penalty. The closest analogy I can think of is boxing, except the loser in this game is always predetermined (and is never Kina). My favorite part of “Queen Elsa En Route To Milan” is the part where I feed her imaginary gummy bears. My second-favorite bit is simultaneously playing the part of the antagonist and pretending to be the flight attendant who warns the antagonist to leave Queen Elsa alone, on pain of petrification. My least favorite part is pretending to be frozen while Kina walks out of the room, expecting me to be in the exact same position when she eventually returns. My second-least-favorite part is the repetition, once she does return.
It is fun, I have learned, for kids to play games in which their parents pretend to be grievously injured or frozen forever. The exercise of control and wanton abandonment of care feels like a tender bud on the thorny branch of adolescence. “She is training to leave us behind!” I fret, and yet she calls me back for the eighth time to be melted and feed her gummies as she takes her seat in business class. Maybe it’s just an elaborate revenge fantasy, punishment for whatever trivial constraint I’ve put on her in the last day. Maybe she just likes Frozen.
Kina played a different game with me this morning, pretending to be hard at work and disinterested in my pleas for family time. “Daddy, you have to understand that I am very busy and working late and you need to go to your school because I am working hard,” she told me, staring intently at the part of her palm where a phone would go. When I continued to press for play time, she sighed, put down her “phone”, and said to me, “Daddy, you need to give me space to work now. I love you very much.” This game is not very fun at all; in many ways, I prefer the tedium of “Queen Elsa En Route To Milan”, because there is something so real about adult Kina being too busy to spend time with me, and the thought of it is much more chilling than being frozen in a block of ice forever. Also, no gummies. The horror!
The thing you might not know about queens—and snow queens, in particular—is that they sleep exclusively in the daytime. This is why you only see them after dark, when the crust on the snowpack glitters in reflected moonlight. Queens are solitary, having lost their parents in a shipwreck while they were still children, and it’s easier to be alone when others are sleeping. They don’t mean to be cruel, and it’s not like they find pleasure in freezing people in blocks of ice; they simply do not like to be awakened from their slumber to be reminded of their many adoring fans, especially while taking intercontinental flights. Queens would rather you keep your distance, feed them gummy bears when they are hungry, and admire them quietly as they make their way through the world. Queens don’t want you to worry; they will be fine all on their own, even though they are extremely busy.