Thursday, March 29, 2012

None of My Board Games Would Play With Me

By the time I was nine, I was pretty frustrated regarding my failed attempts to get into books. I’m not talking about a level of interest here. I read everything that I could get my hands on and loved it. But what I was looking for was to literally get into the books – in the classic vein of The Neverending Story (or The Pagemaster, for all you Macaulay Culkin fans out there). I could create all these worlds in my mind, but I wanted to physically go to them, at least for a little while. And all my attempts had failed.

I decided to try to go in the other direction. Maybe I could get the book to come out into my world. But try as I might, I could not induce those characters to walk out of their pages.

Maybe my medium was wrong. As much as I loved books, maybe they were not the fastest way to get to world-melding. Board games! That’s what I would try. It had certainly worked out for those kids in Jumangi. (At that point, it didn’t really matter to me that it hadn’t worked out particularly well. The moral of the story was a little bit lost behind the epic coolness of the game coming to life.)

But, none of my board games seemed inclined to play.

Then Jumangi, the movie, came out. I was so excited when we got that VHS, that as I squeezed next to my sister in that big La-Z-Boy, I upended my entire bowl of Velveeta into our laps. Still, even the loss of my delicious mac and cheese wasn’t enough to dim my thrill.

As I sat there, watching the action unfold on screen, I realized something new. I might be able to get into the board game. This wasn’t something I’d thought about. And it was awesome.

So, I asked for the Jumangi board game for Christmas. It seemed to make more sense to me to go with a game I knew had a history of working than to try to jump into one that didn’t have such a track record. But if this worked, Candy Land was totally next. Then Chutes and Ladders. Probably not Monopoly though. I wanted to get into a game, sure. But I wasn’t looking to spend eternity in there and that was generally how long it took to finish a round of Monopoly.

When I opened up the game Christmas morning, I was beside myself. I wanted to play right away. I dragged my sister over to the table and set it up. She was excited too… first.

Just to make sure that I would get out of the game if I got sucked in (did I want adventure? Sure. But, like I said, not looking for a life sentence), I made her promise – multiple times – that she would keep playing no matter what. I didn’t notice the fear rising in her face as I promised, repeatedly, that I too would keep playing if she got sucked in. No fear! Regardless of what came out of the board, I would not, ever, stop playing until she came back.

My fervent conviction finally convinced her that it was a real threat that she would be stuck in the game for some time. And, with the wisdom of her all her seven years, she decided that maybe this wasn’t the game for her.

The real moral of this story is that I’m still looking for someone with whom to test out my theory.

So, anyone up for a game of Jumangi?

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