Are You a Round or a Pointy?
This game is called Round or Pointy, and it’s one best understood by way of illustrative examples (a bit like Molly Lambert’s White Swan/Black Swan). When I was growing up, we had these two dogs. Lucy and Ozzie. I used to tell people they were named after Oscar and Lucinda, but this was a lie. They were just Lucy and Ozzie. We got Lucy first. She was a mediumish, brownish dog with an incredibly long tongue and very clickety toenails. Her mom was a Staffordshire terrier, I think, and her dad was a German shepherd. A lot of Collie in there, as well. Lucy was potent. She was very smart, and very focused. She was very into rocks, and she’d carry them around in her mouth for many hours and attempt to give them to guests. Here, please, take it. This rock is especially for you. Her vicious-looking teeth were eventually worn to nubs.
Apart from the rocks, her main focus was my dad. She was demented about him. She used to just follow him around the house and sort of stare at him like how I imagine the Lady of Shallot would stare at someone she had a crush on. It wasn’t that she loved my dad, understand, it was that she was in love with him. When my mum spoke to Lucy, she’d refer to my dad as The Master. It got so she’d just say “Luuuuuuuuucy, The Maaaaaaaster is coming home soon,” and Lucy would start wagging her tail so hard it left whip marks on your legs. Lucy always seemed like she was one day going to open her mouth and just deliver a long, well-structured monologue. It was a crime that she couldn’t speak. She clearly had so, so much to say. I sometimes used to look at her and think Shit, is it possible that this animal is actually a person who got changed into a dog from a spell? Is she the victim of a witch’s curse? I will feel very guilty, if so. Lucy, of course, was a Pointy.
And then there was Ozzie. Beautiful straight-up Golden Retriever Ozzie. The sweetest and most sincerely happy dog I think I ever knew. If Lucy was pretty sure deep down that she was actually a bewitched person, I don’t think Ozzie even ever figured out he was a dog. He was just this sunny consciousness moving through the world, licking your face too much. He liked swimming a lot, and my best memory of Ozzie is him hurling himself off a jetty like a champion. Lucy wouldn’t jump off the jetty unless she was sure my dad was coming with. It’s not that Ozzie was indifferent to us, it was more that he had his own things going on. He had his own likes and dislikes, his own preoccupations, and they had nothing to do with us. Is it weird to call a dog enigmatic? Well, tough. He came to us fully formed. He liked us very much, but he did not need us. All he really needed was himself. He was the Roundest dog in town.
Do you see? Please tell me you see. Anne Boleyn was a Pointy. Jane Seymour was a ROUND. Princess Di was as Pointy as they come. Who is more Round than Camilla Parker-Bowles? No one, that’s who. Prince William? Pointy. Harry? So round! John Lennon? P.O.I.N.T.Y. Ringo Starr? Round, man. Beyonce is really very Pointy indeed, and I hope I do not need to tell you that Rihanna is a Round. Taylor Swift? Pointy. Channing Tatum is so Round it makes me laugh just thinking about it. Lead singers tend to be Pointy. Bob Marley was a Pointy. Bunny Wailer is basically an orb. Russell from Almost Famous is a classic, classic Round.
Anne Boleyn was a Pointy. Jane Seymour was a ROUND.
Rounds are self-contained. Pointies are whatever the opposite of self-contained is. Rounds are generally lovely and kind, but deep down they do not give a fuck what anyone thinks. Pointies give a hard fuck about what literally everyone who was ever born thinks. Rounds are able to tolerate an uncomfortable silence at a dinner party. Pointies get woozy and frantic at the very idea. Pointies come back from a night out going Did you see that weird conversation those guys were having. Were they having a fight? Why did that woman have such shiny shoes on? Rounds come back from a party going JESUS that was fun.
Rounds are experts at being in the moment. Pointies are essentially incapable of it. Pointies can be very cool, but there is nothing to beat a very cool Round. Pointies quite often wish that they were Rounds. Rounds never want to be anything but themselves. Pointies adore this game. Rounds find it quite tedious.
Rounds are experts at being in the moment. Pointies are essentially incapable of it.
You get degrees of Roundness or Pointiness, naturally. For instance, you’d think Natalie Portman was a High Pointy, but then you get her next to Jonathan Safran Foer and you see that actually she is Medium Pointy at best. Rounds are not easily embarrassed. Pointies blush like they were paid to do it. Rounds are amazing at keeping secrets. Pointies try their best, but there is always just one person that they have to tell. Do you see? Please tell me you see.
Barack Obama is a Pointy, although he has always managed to project a certain Round energy. Underneath though? Pointy. Michelle Obama is a Round, obviously. Wendi Deng is so Pointy it’s unreal. The current president of South Africa is a Round. His predecessor was a Pointy. Hilary Clinton is of course a Pointy. Bill Clinton is almost the platonic ideal of a Round. Rounds are chill. They are at the beach right now, wearing a cool kind of hat.
Hilary Clinton is of course a Pointy. Bill Clinton is almost the platonic ideal of a Round.
Round or Pointy, besides from being very fun, is a good way of figuring out relationships, as well. The ideal combination is a Round and a Pointy. The Pointy is desperately intrigued by the Round, and the Round just sits back and watches the Pointy go. Two Rounds are fine, and they are often more than fine, but they will remain slightly inaccessible to each other for a very long time. Worst is two Pointies. They have SO MUCH FUN at first, they are staring at each other so hard, they are asking each other what they ate for lunch three weeks ago, and it’s all just wall-to-wall good times. They drive each other crazy though. They are contemptuous of boundaries. They fight like two terrible little wolverines. Two Pointies can make it work, but it is essential that they are both aware of their natures. I’m sorry, that’s just the way it is.
I’ve been playing this game for years now, and I am not sick of it yet. As a Pointy, it’s in my nature.