It was supposed to be just a game

Getting all their schooling from a computer screen has not deterred our boys from their desires to play video games for the remainder of their waking hours. In an attempt to wean them from unnecessary screen time, we have tried to interest them in board games.

This strategy is fraught will peril. They are willing to play board games, but only if a parent participates. For some reason, they are too uncomfortable around these ancient relics to confidently manage them alone. They need someone who understands the old ways to guide them.

This is unfortunate. Though I spent many hours playing board games as a boy, I find I have almost no patience for them anymore. Also, sitting on the floor is not nearly as fun/manageable as it once was.

We have a Monopoly game in the closet, which I hope we never get desperate enough to open. I can’t imagine sitting through an entire game of Monopoly at my time of life. I’d have to resort to the trick my brother used to do when he was losing and “accidentally” overturn the board.

I have played my 1979 version of The Game of Life with the younger boys a few times. If you ignore the more tedious rules and aren’t too meticulous about every little monetary exchange, you can bang out a game in 30-45 minutes.

Look at those happy 70s parents. I wonder what they were trying to distract their children from.

This is the first time I’ve played Life since boyhood, and now I notice different things about the game. For example, even for 1979, the salaries were outdated: Doctor’s salary – $20,000.

The remarkable thing about the game could be a mere coincidence, or maybe Milton Bradly knew the score better than we give him credit:

Every player must get married, but the number of children each player accumulates is pure chance. In the games we’ve played so far, I have chanced to fill my little green car with children. In fact, I’ve collected more children than there are spaces in the car. Some of my children have had to sit on their older siblings’ laps, which they could do without being taken into foster care in 1979. I assume the newer versions have minivans and Child Protective Services.

In my car crammed with sardine children, I have never finished the game without ending up in the poorhouse. Buster, on the other hand, who the spinning wheel has never blessed with more than one child, has ended each game as a millionaire.

That’s my overloaded car in the Poorhouse parking lot.

This is an interesting lesson.

I wonder. If I had learned Milton Bradley’s one-child-limit lesson in 1979, instead of 2020, would I be able to contemplate a day when I could retire to someplace other than the poorhouse?

Oh well. In the game of life, children cost money. It’s too late to give them back now. Besides, I’ve come to adore them all too much to do anything but let them drive me up the wall and directly into poverty.

Mice Capades: Part 2

Killer mice

Vicious beasts like this should not be frightening the cat and disrupting our family life. They should be outside fighting bears or something. (Image: USFWS)

As everyone sooner or later learns, the key to removing a mouse from your house is having enough kitchenware on hand. What we needed was a lip-less cookie sheet and a pitcher with a snug lid.

Having assembled the proper tools, it was time for man and wife to argue about how to proceed while children threatened the success of every step with meddling curiosity.

I slid the cover enclosing the mouse onto the cookie sheet. Now the rodent dungeon was mobile. My wife was in favor of just throwing the prisoner outside and being done with it, but I was not taking such chances with a trespasser who already knew his way in. We were going to put some distance between him and us.

Since nobody volunteered to ride in the car with Mad Mouse Beyond Thunderdome on their lap, I had to make the prisoner more secure. I made my wife come outside with me to transact the transfer.

If you and your spouse ever need to partner in moving a mouse from under a dish cover on a cookie sheet into a juice pitcher, be prepared for the ultimate test of your marriage. It should be one of the challenges on The Amazing Race, because it’s that full of drama.

A trapped mouse is a ferocious animal who will use any available part of your body to facilitate his escape, sending you into paroxysms of terror. Should this psychologically scarring event come to pass, it will be your spouse’s fault. This is a given. Your relationship may never be the same.

Mouse Thunderdome

Welcome to Thunderdome: One mouse enters; two humans bicker.*

My wife chose to be the slider, leaving me the catching duties. She was skeptical of the plan from the first, predicting that the mouse would avoid the pitcher as the cover slid clear of the cookie sheet.

“If you do it quickly, he’ll have no place else to go,” I reassured her.

She was not reassured. “He’ll climb around the edge,” she insisted as she began her methodical sliding of the cover.

“Not if you do it quickly,” I repeated, attempting to prod her to swifter movement.

She shot back something about losing track of the mouse if she went too fast.

She was giving him too much time to think. “If you do it quickly!” I demanded.

A spouse who doubts your plan is unlikely to execute it quickly. She continued sliding the cover at her deliberate pace – to better identify the exact moment of failure.

“If you do it quickly!” No doubt, the vein was bulging in my neck. Dangerous animals have that effect upon me.

She gave me the famous “Say that one more time!” look.

The mouse, disoriented by my frantic bellowing, allowed himself to drop into the pitcher. I covered it with a sigh of relief.

My wife was back inside the house, having closed the door on both pests left outside.

I drove the mouse to a spot that looked ripe for colonization and set him free.

Then I went home to tell the cat he could come out of hiding and practice talking nice to my wife.

 

*My wife insists I mention that these items have been thoroughly cleaned. Just in case you happen to stop by for some rodent-free baked goods.