You might remember a little black book published in 1995 called “If…(Questions for the Game of Life)”. It’s the kind of book that got busted out at a lot of cocktail parties to inspire Deep Thoughts, though it’s primary function was often to drive a wedge between romantic partners with questions like “If you could alter one physical characteristic of your mate, what would you choose?”
Some of the questions are so broad as to be useless (“If you could change one thing in the world right now, what would you alter?”), but many are quite good, if people are of a mind to play along. And playing along is always what these exercises are about; insightful, honest (or at least clever and funny) answers tend to lead to like conversations.
The If book had been on our shelves for literally 10 years without use, but last Saturday I glanced down and saw it, and figured it would be a good time when our friends Rhonda and Chai came over. I also thought it might play on Pipeline.
I will pick, mostly at random, a question out of the book. Then I will answer it. Then you will answer it. Discussion will ensue. Then I will write about something else the next day and several days after that. Then, later, another question from the If book will appear, and the entire cycle will start over again.
Today’s question, had I chosen the first random question selected, would have been:
“If you could put a new tattoo on someone you know, who would you pick, what would it be, and where would you put it?”
However, due to the absurdity of the question I have proceeded to the next question on the page, which is:
“If you could make someone else live one moment from your own life, who would you select, and what moment?”
But see, I don’t think that’s a good question either. Treacly pablum tripe, which I also think is a fabulous name for an ad agency. Sure, there are legit and interesting answers to that question for most of us, but do we all really want to hear the life stories involved to get us to understand why X person is so right for Y moment of our precious existence? I’m not sure who I would pick, but my moment would be that time I had to walk a mile while wearing my own shoes.
So the next randomly selected question is:
“If your house were to be haunted by the ghost of one person from history, who would you wish it to be?”
Geez, I think I’m starting to see why this thing was on the shelves for 10 years. But this question has potential, so we’ll go with it. First of all, no ghosts of children for me. It’s just a general rule I have. And you probably don’t want people who were downers in real life like Emily Dickinson or Sylvia Plath haunting your residence.
I would think you’d want to find someone who was pleasant in real life. You couldn’t go wrong with the ghost of Gandhi, or Golda Meir, or Big Mama Cass Elliot. It’s tempting to choose the most gentle of all souls, Jesus, but that gets complicated in ways I don’t understand, and if word got out I think parking could become an issue around the house.
Everybody loves a funny ghost. Just off the top of my head I’m wrestling with two candidates, and in the end Mark Twain beats out John Candy. Of course, the ghost of Mark Twain could have understudies played by the ghosts of Woody Harrelson or Hal Holbrook once they die, so that’s like three great ghosts in one.