Time to Change the Game

It is raining now. The morning is even quieter than ever before. It is Monday, which would usually means something but there has been an alteration in our society. The change leads us to a strange kind of cabin sickness. This is not just me or you that are stuck inside. Everyone around us doing the same thing too.

I think about the times I would play sick and stay home from school. I remember wishing I could cut out and do this all the time. Meanwhile all the schools are closed now. There is no place to congregate and no place to experience life as we knew it. For now this new and temporary normal has put distance between us and so many others.

Times like this lead to introspection, which I usually welcome because the freedom to move on or think otherwise is much easier when there is a choice go out and do other things.

Someone mentioned this is like the 100 year storm. They were saying something catastrophic comes along every 100 years to remind us of one thing: As much as we believe we are, the truth is we are not as “In charge” as we initially thought. Fate is strong. In fact, fate is a bitch sometimes. Apparently, there is a virus going around that is even stronger than fate itself. Or maybe this is fate. Maybe this is nature’s way of culling the herd. Maybe this is like that Barry McGuire song from back in the 60’s when he said, “Tell me over and over again my friend, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.”

If you ask me, it seems we do a poor job of staying out of our own way sometimes. We argue and we complain.
(Have you noticed this?) We have always been a species of creation. But what are we creating now? Is it a sense of unity? Are we playing by the rules or do we still play by our own rules because we don’t like the idea of what the news is calling the new normal?

I wonder how we’ll all be when the news says it’s okay to come out again. I wonder what it will be like if and when the pandemic runs its course. As a matter of fact, I wonder what it would be like to be a kid now and forced to stay home. No more teachers. No more books. No more teacher’s dirty looks.
Does anybody remember that rhyme?
Or did I just show more about my age and the fact that it’s been a long time since I was a kid too.

I was often sick when I was a little boy. As I grew, I also grew sick of school, which is why I played sick on a frequent basis. I was out for most of the year in 7th grade. The reasons for my hospitalization and the painfully intrusive tests are less important than what I am about to mention. Eventually, the boredom grew so impossible that I even missed the regular monotony of everyday classrooms and homework.

Even though I wanted to be away from everyone; truth is I didn’t want to feel alone, which I think is a common consensus now. People are alone. We are socially distant to protect ourselves and limited to a controlled interaction that keeps everyone safe from the Coronavirus or Covid-19 or whatever you want to call it.

For now, we all seem to be kept away from one another. It’s like the entire world was forced to play a game of hide and go seek—only, we can’t see who’s it and we’re all waiting for someone to land on home base and scream, “Home, free all!” This way we can come out of hiding and laugh about the game we’re playing.

Do you remember hide and go seek?
Does anyone even play this game anymore?

I remember we used to play a version of this called Manhunt. I remember the time when I was somewhere about the age of 8 or maybe 9 years-old. We were playing manhunt in a friend’s basement. It was summertime. I was wearing a shirt that my Grandmother sent up from Miami Beach, Florida. Grandma used to live at 100 Lincoln Road, which was a much different place at the time. This was before fashion and high-priced hotels took over the atmosphere down there.

Grandma sent me a shirt that said “Jive Turkey.” I was wearing that shirt. And I remember this not because the shirt was so extraordinary. My Grandmother gave me lots of things but the shirt stands out for a special reason.

I was playing Manhunt and hiding in my friend’s basement. I was crouched in a laundry room next to a girl that was hiding beside me. She was pretty. Or maybe this was the first time I realized how pretty girls could be. She was smiling and not paying attention to the fact that I was noticing her.

I was not noticing her in a lustful way; least of all for lust’s sake. In fact, I was too young to know what lust was. I only knew there was something there, which was this new, unknown thing to me. She was pretty, Just pretty, And it was nice to see.

I had seen nudie magazines before. Besides, I had an older brother. I heard about sex before. I heard about this from my brother and some of his friends. None of them were true romantics by the way. They were guys with nicknames like Pugsly or Zeebo.

Suffice to say this was the first time I actually noticed a girl because of an outstanding feature, such as a smile and the way her lips curled when she grinned at me. Safe to say she wasn’t thinking the same thing. Safe to say she was just hiding with me, looking to escape from being tagged or being “It” as they say. There was a stir coming from the other side of the basement. Someone was down there with us. I was enjoying the moment. I liked the way she smelled, which as I recall was sweet. I could smell her shampoo. I could see the way daylight trickled in the basement window and illuminated a certain way to give a bright appeal in a dimness of a basement with the lights off. I could see light on her face. It was nice.

I thought about kissing her; although in fairness, I’m not sure if I knew what kissing really meant. I suppose my idea was to have my lips press against hers and count to three because yes, I was still innocent then, and kissing was just kissing. There was no first base, second base, or third base and home. This was early age hanky panky, not the crude teenage years of stinky pinky (pardon the crudeness).

Unfortunately, the stir came in the basement and disturbed the moment. I wondered if there was something there. I wondered if she was thinking the same thing. I wondered if this was fate when we ran out from behind our hiding spot. I was in front of her and she was behind me. I felt like we were together; as if fate intended that we hid together and that both, we ran together and got away together.

As we ran, someone ran up behind us. She pushed me forward to avoid being tagged, in which case, I tripped. This resulted in a terrible fall. I fell forward with my head banging into the corner of a glass coffee table.

I took a bunch of stitches at the edge of my eyebrow. Thank God I didn’t lose my eye. I bled all over the shirt my Grandma sent me. I guess the shirt fit—which is not to say that I ever knew what a jive turkey meant but for the moment, I knew the jive turkey was me.

Like I said, fate can be a bitch sometimes. Then again,  I suppose all is fair in love and Manhunt. I certainly don’t feel the need to hide anymore. I don’t want to run. I definitely do not want trip or fall and bash my face into something.

I just want someone to land on home base and scream, “Home free all,” so we can stop this game and get back to real life. Or at minimum, hell, let’s at least come up with a new game to play. I don’t care if it’s Red Light Green Light, Simon Says, or Duck, Duck Goose.

I’m open to an idea . . . (if you have one).

I suppose I just want life to be interactive again.
It’s raining harder now. Maybe this is nature’s way of washing the streets to stop us from kicking up too much dust. Or maybe this is Mother Earth’s way of hushing our craziness with the sound of a natural lullaby.

Either way, it’d be nice to hear someone scream, “Home, free, all.”
So we can come out again.

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