Cayde keeps carting out the old school Milton-Bradleys, though we’re capable of playing a mean game of Chinese poker, and while Colonel Mustard remains simply a roadblock in our preferred and perpetual game of Professor Plum v. Mr. Green.
Sure, sometimes Colonel Mustard is guilty inasmuch as the cards may fall, but I’m Plum; Cayden is forever Green. Sometimes we call each other by these monikers, just like I’ll call him ‘Caydito’ and he’ll call me ‘Tomate´. As Plum and Green, we’re always one third the field away from each other on the playing board. The fact of Mustard remains irrelevant.
In the game of Plum v. Green, it’s a race to see who can get to all the rooms first, as fast as possible. This is how you beat Clue.
The perp is always the first to be found out. You know this if you play Clue on the regular. Discovering the weapon is always the easy second.
But knowing the room where it happened—well, that’s the trick. And how best you lie to each other, slyly, and while improvising your best put-downs in the process—it’s better than Risk, better than chess.
Were there less decorum, the floor would be spoilt with spent sunflower hulls. The kitchen, however, is clean, so we have to pollute it with the tidier effluvium of pheromones and the slight dispense of testosterone that comes with the housing of our imperfect X-chromosomes.
Boys like to fight, especially if they love each other.
“I went to the bathroom, and you looked at my cards.”
“You lied TWICE about the wrench. Jerk. What are you doing in the library anyway? When’s the last time you read a book?”
”Oh, just stay in the kitchen, Daddy.”
This is absolute, unadulterated love.
Last night, Cayden lugged out Yahtzee. I like to play Yahtzee. Yahtzee, however, lends itself more to a general kismet, than any sort of verbal kinetic. Shouting at dice only goes so far. A game of dice is not Deerhunter material, especially in a well-lit room with dinner dishes that—having promised to be washed—sit with great domestic placidity, in the sink.
I could bare a light-bulb or something, but that would be overly dramatic.
Finn yelled in our stead. The ageless Pat and Vanna combo was on TV in the living room, and Wheel of Fortune was filling its half-hour.
Cayden scratched off his ‘four of a kind’; I believe, meanwhile, Findlay solved the puzzle. From what I could hear at least. Truly, Finn’s magnificent at shouting letters. Sajak, in all his Dorian Gray-ness grants Findlay this parent-free speech practice a few nights a week.
There are muted dings from the TV screen; someone wins a car.
Cayden and I do Jeopardy every night, but as precursor, we’ve set up—Gawd—the ‘Connect Four’ set.
‘Connect Four’ was our tee-ball leading to chess. Cayden was three, and I plied the same strategies over and over to teach him how to lose. It was the best way to teach him how to win.
“The diagonals, Dude. You have to watch the diagonals.” Plunk, plunk.
Eventually he duplicated my method, than added his own riff, to where I would gladly lose on the regular. This is how you win as a dad.
The stakes are high this night. As spoiler, I will beat the current Jeopardy champion later by deadpanning, ‘F. Scott Fitzgerald’, pocketing whatever Monopoly money it is you do when you win Final Jeopardy for again and pretend. Before sending your kid off to bed as the faux and bona fide Merv Griffin champion, no actual change in your purse.
Finn is on my lap, and because we’ve lost many of the pieces, Cayde has taken a Sharpee to a few red tokens, marking them with resolute and carefully drawn crosses.
“These are yours, Daddy.” I’m always black, he’s always red.
Finn did really well in Speech earlier in the morning, hop hop skip skip, pressing way too many elevator buttons, charming everyone. He wouldn’t hold my hand in the parking lot, but played well with his friends in group. He pronounced ‘box’ at his therapist’s prompting time for the first time, with an actual ‘x’ sound.
Finn holds the red tokens, now permanently tattooed with Sharpee crosses and I guide his hand to plunk them into the correct columns. He soundly beats Cayden at his own game, me as marionettist. No one’s letting each other win. I stick my tongue out at Cayden and call him a ‘butthead’ when he loses. Finn charmingly echoes:
‘Bu-head.” He then dances gleefully in my lap with his almond eyes all squinted.
Cayde tells Finn to listen–that this is the best part–and he pulls the lever at the bottom of the game board so that all the pieces come crashing down in plastic chaos on the table.
All the reds and blacks combine so that no one can determine who the actual winner was, only ten seconds after there seemingly was one.