Multiple Players

“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.”

-Tom Clancy

Ours is a single-TV household. I keep the tube in the basement to make the effort of looking at it as unappealing as possible. Within a tangle of wires next to the TV, the X-Box sits surrounded by dust bunnies and the usual teenager-generated detritus: abandoned pop cans, gum wrappers, bits of popcorn the dog missed, and the like. By any standard it is truly grotty down there.

Regardless of the lack of appeal, when a clump of teenagers arrives at the house to visit, the basement is their inevitable destination. En masse they take up the mystifying wireless controllers, and with thumb muscles strengthened beyond what is natural from years of operating these things, they get to work. (I sometimes wonder about those thumb muscles, and what evolution will make of them.) Instead of speaking among themselves, occasionally they grunt in unison. I can only assume that some act of screen violence hasn’t gone as planned.

A recent Sunday afternoon found the household lazy with unexpected late-summer heat. The Resident Teenager disappeared with his friends out the front door, his parting words a cheerful “‘Bye forever!” My husband, worn out from a strenuous week of Business Guy stuff, sighed with relief and descended to the basement couch for a rare Sunday afternoon baseball nap.

Within minutes of his descent, the teenagers returned, “forever” apparently having been foreshortened by the lure of the X-Box. When I informed them that the TV was occupied for the duration of the baseball nap, they groaned and cast about for something to do. I watched, fascinated, as they stood around in the kitchen staring at one another.

“Do you have any other multiple-player games?” one of them finally asked. She wasn’t asking me, but I answered anyway, grabbing a multiple-player game from my youth and saying, “Cheat!”

To their credit, they all sat at the table and played cards for an hour. They chatted and giggled and poked fun at each other, and to their further credit, they stayed on playing well past the end of the baseball nap.

Come to think of it, maybe it was to my credit.

Categories: General.