One of my favorite Friends episodes involved Joey immersing himself in a bizarre game called “Bamboozled!” in order to audition for the host role. He enlisted Chandler and Ross in the deal. At first they wanted nothing to do with learning this wacky thing, especially Chandler, because the rules were so convoluted they seemed arbitrary:
“You spin the Wheel of Mayhem to go up the Ladder of Chance; you go past the Mud Hut, through the Rainbow Ring to get to the Golden Monkey; you yank his tail and BOOM, you're in Paradise Pond!”
Eventually they caught on and actually had fun. The problem was that Joey had learned the intricate rules only to find out at the audition that the game had been totally revised to a simpler question and answer arrangement. (Yu-Gi-Doh!)
I bring this up because I occasionally try to sit down and play – excuse me — duel with my 11-year-old son in the “Yu-gi-Oh!” trading card game. And I fail pretty miserably. Today, he beat my sorry self, leaving me with a negative 600 points.
Perhaps it’s an awkward match. His 11-year-old impatience paired with my 40-something stupidity sometimes leads to raised voices and pulled hair. I usually feel Bamboozled myself. Chandler, Joey, and Ross were Mensa masters in comparison. But amidst my frustrations and dim-witted questions (“Why can’t I summon this trap card now?” “Why is a Dark Magician such a big deal?” “Why did you take away 3,000 of my life points?” “Why do they make this print so damn tiny?”), today I found something pretty cool going on.
You see, we decided to play in the dining room, basically because I’m too old to play on the floor and didn’t feel like cleaning the crap off the kitchen table for a playing field. But being in this little used room was nice change. I turned on the stereo and lit a candle and really tried to focus on what he was saying. Sadly, I was still pretty confused during most of the game, but a thought that kept going through my mind was, “this is like being on vacation.”
What was nice too, was the laughter. We laughed a lot. He is a pretty funny kid when he’s not being an absolute pain in the rear. I made fun of the cards and made him laugh, and he’d just make some silly face and crack me up. It was what they call, in the fancy parenting magazines, quality time. Felt good.