Tag Archives: games

Nothing Doing

comfy chairA curious thing happened to me the other night. Kind of out of the blue I got a call from a friend I hadn’t spoken to for some time. While it wasn’t one of those “blasts” from 40 years ago, it had been at least a couple of months since we last spoke so it was good to hear from her. But it wasn’t the call itself that was surprising. I mean it started out pretty ordinary what with catching up on her kids and my kids and a few other people’s kids too, but you don’t want to know about that. The curious part was when, without any prompting on my end (I wasn’t out of breath or talking fast or anything like that which I have been known to do when I want a conversation to end), she said:

My Friend: I’ve probably caught you on your way out the door.
Me: Nope. I’m not going anywhere right now.
My Friend: Oh, well you must be busy with stuff at home.
Me: Nope. I’m not really busy right now. As a matter of fact, I’m not doing anything at the moment.
My Friend: Oh, well this must be a first for you.

Now she couldn’t see me, but if she had I’m pretty sure she would have noticed the look of puzzlement on my face because, truth be told (I know, I say that a lot but shallow people never back away from the truth) there are many, many times that I am not going anywhere or doing anything in particular. As a matter of fact, I do nothing quite a lot of the time. And as a shallow person, I’m okay with that because doing nothing is not always a bad thing. Like when I call my Mother and ask her “what’s doing” and she says “nothing’s doing” which is often better than “something’s doing” ‘cause that “something” is not always so great when you’re 97 years old. So I come by all of this honestly. Which is why I spend much of my time at home sitting in my comfy chair in my study doing not much of anything unlike the cat who, making no distinction between the chair and the multitude of cardboard scratching posts we have strategically placed around the house for her convenience, is always busy doing something when she visits me at my chair, which again, is not such a good thing.

Now ordinarily I would be fine leaving you with this impression of me in my leisure time but as an honest shallow person who is somewhat reflective and introspective I find myself wanting to explain that, just because I am in my chair appearing to do nothing, doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not doing something.  Sometimes that something is reading a book, or finding valuable information on the internet like how much the house down the street sold for or whether I’ve lost a lot or a little in the stock market on any given day. Sometimes I plan whole vacations, booking hotels, airline tickets, making dinner reservations and arranging for sightseeing tours in my temporary home away from home and, believe me, that can be exhausting. Of late, much of my time spent in my chair has been devoted to attending my class at Harvard (have I mentioned I’m going to Harvard?) listening to lectures, reading excerpts from books and engaging in dialogue with my fellow students. Well I don’t really “engage” but I do read what some of them have to say. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that taking a course at Harvard is no walk in the park. Other times I’m just thinking about things which makes it really look as though I’m doing nothing but I’m not. I will admit that I am also prone to a couple of less lofty activities like watching reality TV shows or playing computer games, but those are things too. And, last but not least, I sit in my chair to write this blog which, I might add, I have stuck to for almost a year now and that’s really something.

Well now that I’ve got this one in the bag I should get back to what I was doing before I started writing which really was nothing and, now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t even have to go anywhere to do it.

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ice_scoopI’ve been scooped! And as a shallow person, I’m ok with that. I mean I suppose it really is the highest form of flattery. As a matter of fact it’s kind of impressive to have someone think so highly of something I shared with them that they wanted to write about it even more than I did. Or at least they got around to writing about it before I did which is not all that surprising since, as you may have noted, my “not writing days” have begun to outnumber my writing ones. But that’s only because I returned home to the North and had a whole bunch of other stuff to do, which included deciding how many colours I could put together to cut down on the number of loads of laundry that were piled up in the basement. And then there was all that food shopping since, upon return, the cupboards were quite bare. Not to mention that, of late, I have been charged with doing some writing at work and there are only so many words in one’s head at one time. And the roads are slippery as all get out which I know doesn’t really have much to do with me writing the blog but thought I could throw it out there since I’m complaining anyway. You have to admit though that those first three are fairly plausible excuses that have me, at least, convinced that this temporary slowdown is justifiable. But now I’m back at it and since I am not going to share with you the link to the culprit’s (well that’s what I like to call him) blog, I figured it would be pretty safe to write about what he wrote about. After all, it was my idea in the first place and besides, it has lots to do with all those hours I spent drinking coffee on the patio and right now I’m feeling a little nostalgic about my recent time at the beach, especially since temps here are having  some trouble moving into the plus category. Done whining.

The origins of this escapade that I am about to describe go back to the days when the Kev and I (you remember the Kev) spent many hours going for coffee in one place or another, and I am being accurate here since it was the ‘90s and there was actually more than one place to go for coffee. A little aside here. What most people don’t realize is that there is a difference between “going for coffee” and “having a coffee” the explanation of which is much too involved for this post and will have to be picked up at some point in the future. Suffice to say that the former is what I am focusing on as it tends to be the more interesting of the two options. I think however, you can imagine that when you go for coffee with the same person day after day after day it can get a little challenging to come up with new and engaging topics around which to banter. I mean there’s work stuff, family stuff and general stuff but after a while all of that gets a bit stale and so you start to look outward for some inspiration. I have always found that if you keep one ear on the tables around you it’s possible to learn something interesting and maybe even confidential as most people forget that they are not Maxwell Smart and there is no “cone of silence” (if you don’t know, here’s the link). One caution here, if you happen to accidentally overhear what you think is a great stock tip don’t run back to your office and put down your life savings ‘cause unless you happen to be lucky enough to be sitting beside Mr. Buffet it’s probably not going to pan out.

While listening in can be one way to perk up a break it is a little passive so I’d like to help you take a more proactive approach to passing the time. Whenever the Kev and I got a little bored with each other we played a game that we like to call “Who’s that Guy/Who’s that Gal?” There are no rules to this game and it’s pretty straight forward. All you have to do is look around and find someone whose life you can recreate. That’s right. You are going to figure out who that guy/gal is without actually talking to them or anyone they know. It goes something like this.

Me: See that guy in the corner with the ponytail sipping on the frap? 
Kev: Yeah. Looks like he just lost his job as the cameraman at the local network affiliate.
Me: Bet he’s trying to figure out what he can do now without chopping off that hair. Good thing he has some severance to tide him over.
Kev: He’s just stopping off here on his way to pick up a pair of snakeskin cowboy boots.
Me: So he can mosey on down to Cow Town and join the rodeo.
Kev: As a clown.

And that’s it. Before you know it you’ll be sitting with some of the most interesting albeit bizarre people in the world.  Now that I think about it, there is one rule. Never let any of them know what you’ve done because their new life just might be better than the old.

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Tag, You’re it! And a bit of a rant.

Red and blue police lightsEvery once in awhile I recall the days of my youth and all of the many hours spent in laughter and play with the neighborhood kids. My admittedly selective memory paints an idyllic picture of boys and girls riding bikes down the steep hill that undulated in front of our houses, sharing penny candies bought with our nickels and dimes at the corner store and running wildly from one backyard to the next playing games like “Red Rover”, “Hide and Seek” and “Tag, You’re it”! It was a time of fun and frivolity with nary a thought to the lessons being learned and how they would profoundly impact our lives as we grew into the mature adults we are today. But impact they did and as I reflect on those times I have have come to the realization that it is as a result of those very games that I can proudly declare myself to be an upstanding and law abiding citizen.

For those of you who know me, and that would be most but not all, thank goodness, of the people who read this blog, it will come as no surprise that I was a rather small child. For some games that proved to be an asset. As you may well imagine, hide and seek was one of my fortes as I could fit into places that were otherwise unavailable to my larger playmates. But at other times my diminutive stature rendered me at a distinct disadvantage and in games like “Tag” I found myself being “caught” over and over again. In fact, I was caught so often that I sometimes defaulted to being “it” for an entire evening. And so it was from this rather daunting experience I came to internalize two “things I know for sure”. The first is that I don’t like getting caught and the second is that, however hard I try to avoid it, I almost always will be the one that does.

Now I know you are shaking your head thinking surely having short legs is not the best rationale for becoming a law abiding citizen. And isn’t it a little strange for her to think that a silly little game is the sole reason she has lived a life free of crime? Of course I know that there are moral and ethical reasons that should inspire one to adhere to the letter of the law. But as a shallow person I’m ok with letting fear alone be the motivation behind my good behaviour and, given my life experience, feel justified in doing so. If you are still harbouring some disbelief, let me tell you a story that will erase the doubts that are swirling through your minds.

As you may recall, I have a strong preference for small foreign cars so not surprisingly, that’s what I drive. It’s a peppy little thing that in its country of origin can grace the blacktop at 160 kph without a shudder and as a result, I am always careful to keep an eye on the needle so as not to exceed any posted limits. Which is why as I was driving through Idaho, for the sole purpose of returning to my country of birth, I was somewhat astonished to look in my rearview mirror and see the sparkle of red and blue lights rather close on my behind. As I pulled over to the side (at this point I had the border in my sights but aware of the extradition laws between our friendly countries made a hasty decision not to make a run for it), and watched the State Trooper amble towards my car, I continued to wonder what on earth I had done to warrant this rather unwelcome intrusion to my journey. Here’s how it went:

Trooper: Ma’am, did you notice the 45 mph sign back there?
Me: Yes sir, I did. But you know my speedometer is in kilometres and it’s a little hard to get the conversion just right.

He looks through the window at my dash and at that moment I think I have this one licked. Until he goes on to say:

Trooper: And Ma’am, did you happen to notice the 25 mph sign?
Me: Suddenly deflated I reply, Um no sir, I did not.
Trooper: Ma’am, you know I can cite you for excessive speed. Much too long a pause. But I’ll let you off this time with just a regular speeding ticket.

Are you kidding me! I was caught for excessive speed in a 25 mph zone! Me, who let’s the guy in the Chevy Cobalt whiz by on the highway knowing all the while that with a tap of my toe I could leave him in my dust. Me, who slows down at a stale green light while everyone else accelerates through the yellow and red, even though I know, in a pinch, I can stop on a dime. Me, who wouldn’t dream of answering a call while at the wheel yet sits patiently behind the guy at the flashing green who neglects to notice the light has changed because he is so engrossed in his seemingly “more important than actually driving” conversation? Me who has made obeying the law somewhat of a compulsion if for no other reason than not to do so will ultimately result in my capture. I think it is safe to say that I have made my case.

And so it is that I have come to accept my destiny as the “person who will always get caught” and for the most part, I’m ok with it. But once, honestly just once, I would like to have the chance to be the one that calls out “Tag, you’re it!”

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