Companionable Cornfusion


I'm not sure what possessed me, but when a friend and I created an agenda for my visit to her home in Connecticut, I passed up regional theater in favor of negotiating a corn maze. It seemed like an interesting idea at the time.

If you have never experienced a corn maze, the premise is simple. Grab a map, enter the maze, hope that the owners don't need to come and rescue you at nightfall. While you are shown an aerial view before you enter the maze, you will find that a singularly useless experience. Seeing the big picture in no way translates into the map you will be handed. Here's what the ground-level view looks like: corn. Lots of corn. More corn. Trodden-upon corn stalks. More corn. There will be, here and there, a small sign depicting an ear of corn and containing a number that will help you determine how far along you are and if you are, in fact, moving in the right direction.

The path is rocky and dusty. There are insects -- mostly lovely dragon flies. Corn leaves (?) feel like cat's tongues licking your face. On this particular Saturday, we were experiencing a return to summer, so the temperature was in the 80s and the humidity in the 90s. We were glad that we'd had the foresight to buy water.

We trudged along single file, mostly in silence. My friend's husband resisted the urge to sing Charlie on the MTA (will he ever return, no he never returned). At each intersection, we conferred briefly as to the correct choice. Somewhere between good map skills, good intuition and luck, we rarely hit a dead end and only once got caught in a closed loop. We did cross paths with a couple of co-negotiators; sometimes they followed us, sometimes we followed them.

There's nothing in that description that suggests we had fun, yet we did. We came across - and did not take - two emergency exits. There's something in joint confusion that creates bonds, I think.

Eventually, we exited the maze and went off for celebratory ice cream at a nearby small farm. We felt accomplished. We're not likely to ever repeat the experience, but we're not sorry we tried it.

There's something wonderful about active experimentation with close friends. The three of us are hovering around seventy and have a nice, companionable relationship. My friend and I chatter excitedly about the expansion of our businesses, books we're reading, fashion, family, friends. Her husband mostly listens and keeps us supplied with tea and snacks. We'll likely be trying new things well into our nineties. It's the joy of shared experiences that keeps us going.

What have you tried lately?