Chutes and Ladders is a children’s game constructed so that even the smallest child can participate in the breakdown of society. Whoever designed this game must have fostered a deep-seated hatred for humanity and have the sordid past of a recovering alcoholic with manic tendendcies.
When a nasty turn of nature shut down the power grid in our area, and the only ones in the house with access to electronic entertainment was a teenaged boy with a supercharged video game and a Labrador with an electronic catnip mouse, we trotted out the kerosene lanterns and jumped right in to a family bonding experience.
“Why do we have to do this?” Son One, aged 22, is ever the encourager.
“Milton Bradley says Family Game Night will bring us closer together.”
“The dog’s asleep on my foot. How much closer can we get?”
A warm wet tongue washed a pizza stain from my pants.
“You’d be surprised.”
He peered at the rules in the dim light. “It says the youngest goes first. That would be me.”
“They have that rule so little kids won’t pout. Let’s roll to see who goes first.”
“Okay, if you want to cheat a little kid out of a turn.”
“You haven’t been a little kid since Barney the Purple Dinosaur faded into lavender.”
“I’m younger than you.”
It’s amazing how people act when they don’t get their way.
“Okay Mom, let go of my ear. You can go first.”
The game proceeded. It suddenly came to me how unfair it is to teach children how their young lives can end with a roll of the die.
“Mom, you got the big slide. You have to go back.”
“The slide is out of order due to road construction.”
“There’s always road construction.”
Just as Son One was about to display a lack of self control, the power came back on and the room was flooded with light. Someone accidentally knocked the board off the table during the excitement.
“You were supposed to go down the big chute. You cheated!” Son One was wounded by the hand of injustice.
“Of course she did,” the Captain caught my eye and leaned in with a tone dripping with “she owes me a favor.”
“But this time we’ll let her slide."