Who invented the game of Life? I'm not talking the metaphorical game of life. I'm talking go-into-debt-put-your-nubby-spouse-in-the-station wagon-backseat game of Life. Games are supposed to be a break from reality. Why do I want to enter into a one hour ass-whooping that hits all the stress buttons of my real existence?
Homeowners Insurance. Taxes. Speeding Tickets. Gifts for the newly married couple. All in the past month. None of them left that warm-family-fun-night-on-the-outside-of-the-cardboard-box-smile on my face.
Stocks? Fageddaboutit. No one ever spins my number, nor will I get that fifty grand back it took to buy into it. Sound familiar?
And what of birth control? There is no mention of choice when it comes to expanding the plastic family. Twins! More Twins! Suddenly, the back of my pink Studebaker is packed to the brim with immaculate conceptions I must now fund nursery school and full college tuition for. Millionaire estates? Not with the Brady Bunch +1 wedged like a pair of skis down the middle.
I planted a tree last year. Granted, it wasn't on Arbor day, but my Charlie Brown Oak has yet to yield a life tile worth $100,000. Unless I'm planting an evergreen that'll someday grace the White House lawn at Christmas, it's about as Life-based as earning a $90K salary being a teacher.
This newest game of Life is not the one I remember from childhood. Where spinners were engineered to spin without launching across the floor, skyscrapers stayed in place, and the path was not so winding. Maybe the earlier version gave us all the hope without any of the reality. Viewing it from the trenches doesn't elicit quite the same jubilation as staying up late on a summer night at Grandma's house when I was ten.
Still, there was something about drawing the Life tile that read Write The Great American Novel $100,000 that inspired a renewed appreciation for the game. Where, for a short time, possibilities lay out in front, jaded editors didn't lurk behind jagged green mountains and the only true sweat I broke was betting on whether that novel would put me in Millionaire Estates or a white plastic Countryside Acres home that, most likely, didn't have a heater that rattled and kitchen tiles that snapped loose like gunfire when the temperature dropped.
For one glorious hour, wealth hadn't come from a series of lucky spins, but from a renewed sense of possibility and enough loved ones clustered around the kitchen table to fill my pink car.
And that, Sir Milton Bradley, is a life well lived.