The Game of Life… Currently

By Ernie Witham   |   April 16, 2020

“My bucket is definitely fuller than yours.”
Pat looked in my bucket. “Guess you’re right.” Yes! I thought. “Of course, I’ve emptied my bucket twice so far.”
“No way!”
“Check the green waste container.” I checked. Sure enough.
“Yeah, well, I, ah, have emptied my bucket three times.”
“Then how come all the stuff in the green waste bucket is mine?”
“Because…” I took off my cap. My head expanded back to normal size. “Because I’ve been throwing my bucket contents over the patio wall. I’m making a compost pile for the good of all humankind. I’ll probably win some kind of award. Nobel or something.” I smiled the smile of a winner.
Pat stood, as if to go check my compost pile story, but instead headed for the green waste container. “While you were sitting there thinking I filled my bucket again.”
Rats! I was losing the weeding game!
We had a plethora of weeds. Due partially to my brilliant idea to teach three-year-old Jack how to water my bonsai so that he could someday become a bonsai master…
“Why doesn’t the water work anymore?” Jack asked me as he kept squeezing the trigger.
“Because the utility company shut off the water,” I explained, while wiping down the patio doors, the barbecue and the dog.
“Because they think we have been wasting water,” I said, as I used a push broom to spread out the puddles.
“Because Cachuma Lake is going dry,” I said, wringing out my sweatshirt.
“Because… I said so.”
After Jack and his parents went home it took me days to dry out my little trees. Then the March rains came and they got soaked again. But when the sun finally came out they started sending out new growth every day. Unfortunately so did the weeds. Game on.
See, after reading every written word in our entire library during this extended quarantine, binge-watching every DVD comedy ever produced, and erasing and redoing all the newspaper puzzles accumulating in the recycle bin, we were running out of things to do. That’s when we decided it might be fun to engage in a little friendly competition by playing a few games. We started with cribbage.
“Well that ties us up 63 games to 63 games,” Pat said.
“By my count I have 63 but you only have 62. That makes me the winner of the best of 129 games. Ta-da!”
“What? Did they even teach you math in New Hampshire?” That was when the cribbage board went into the trash.
“Uno?” Turns out Pat is an Uno whiz. So, it was less than a day before the Uno cards followed the path of the cribbage board. Then we tried Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, which Jon had left during their last trip up from L.A. After playing for an hour and realizing we knew nothing, we watched all nine episodes on Disney+. Didn’t really help. Too many planets and characters. Then I had a brainstorm. I answered every card with “Jabba the Hut” until Pat had to finally begrudgingly say: “Correct.” Then Trivial Pursuit made its exit.
We decided against Monopoly. Last time we played that the neighbors complained about all the yelling. And we gave up on rock-paper-scissors after an argument about how paper could possibly beat a rock.
So we tried poker. “You now owe me four million one hundred and eighty-three thousand dollars,” said Pat. “When may I expect payment?”
“As soon as my stimulus money comes in.” Do you know that playing cards smell a little like pizza when they burn?
That’s when Pat suggested a new course of action.
“Weeding? Seriously?”
“Well, it would be nice to be able to get to the back gate without having to use a machete.”
I could see her point. The backyard was starting to look like an RV storage lot. Plus, we had been getting quite pale from all the time at the dining room table.
“Okay,” I said. “Prepare to be outweeded.”
“Not a chance.”
And now here we were in a weeding battle. I grabbed my weed puller tool with one hand and a spade with the other, did a couple of neckrolls and conjured up my best Edward Scissorhands image. I could smell victory…


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