Friday, February 4, 2011

The game

I don't remember how it started, or when.

Did we play it in college? Did I invent it?

Was it something from that period after college -- the early career years when I got to be friends with a great group of people at work and we'd socialize all the time on evenings and weekends?

Or did it just come to me yesterday in the doctor's office, when I wanted to help Dean pass the time in an easy, enjoyable way?

I don't know. But now Dean and I are addicted.

You start by -- NOT saying that you are about to play a game -- but by simply saying two things:

Peanut butter or jelly?


Dogs or cats?

Any two things. As you'd expect, the person to whom you've said this is initially a little bewildered. "Huh? Peanut butter or jelly? What do you mean?"

"I'm just asking: peanut butter or jelly?"

And the person responds. Maybe he picks one. Or maybe, as he did when I got to "dogs or cats?" he says something else entirely: "hamsters!"

And then maybe he says (as Dean did), "can I do that? Can I say something else?" Because now he's on to the fact that this is a game, and the game must have rules.

"You can say whatever you want."

The magic of the game is that it just starts, and it just goes. To me, the power is in the hands of the person responding. Indeed, say anything you want. Don't feel that you have to explain or justify your choice.
I will be bold and predict for you that the person you begin this with will quickly become immersed. "More!" he or she will demand, as you start to slow a little in coming up with questions.

Ocean or forest?

Good or evil?

Chocolate or vanilla?

Just as the responder has no need to defend or explain a response, so the questioner has no responsibility to explain or defend. We started this with Ken when we got home, for example, and he demanded, "context! I need context!"

My response was that it's in your hands -- it's whatever context you choose. This had come up with Dean as our game continued during our two-hour car ride back home from the doctor's (rush hour; should have taken less than an hour otherwise). I'd said, "Mexican or Chinese?" and he said, "food, right? You're talking about food?"

Whatever you want it to be, and you don't have to say.

But back to that point when you start to slow down, when it gets to be a little hard to think of things quickly. That's when you get to say, "now you ask me!"

Big or small?

London or Paris?

Today or tomorrow?

Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan?

Try it. I think it will be your new favorite thing.


Natalie said...

Peanut Butter





Mexican Chinese



Next Week

Kevin Kline

Home Cooked or Reservations?

Jennifer said...

Home cooked, definitely, and I was gratified when Dean's response to "homemade or store bought?" was homemade. Dean also played the game with friends at school today, and I'm SO happy to have you playing along as well! I bet it would be a riot at your house, at the dinner table....