The Games We Play

Wouldn’t it be fun to imagine all interactions as a game of table tennis? It’s not necessarily fun-fun, but taking metaphors and fashioning them into the literal sense is quite entertaining. The point is to not acknowledge that the game is being played. This is similar to improv: two characters grace the stage, they start doing something, but they’re talking at the same time; the game is developed through character interaction. After all, we all go on our merry ways and multitask while we converse.

In each relationship we pursue for romantic or business — our familial and closest friendships could be well established by the late 20’s-30’s, and any business-related friendships should develop naturally — we need to bring our best game forward … Wait. That statement is convoluted. We should bring our best and honest selves forth.

Sometimes a little playful competition helps.


No matter where you go, it would be a requirement to BYOP: Bring Your Own Paddle. And you’d travel from place to place with the handle sticking out of your back pocket or having it reside in your purse. Normal conversation would start up with the typical hello exchange, but then the polite agreement would be for someone to ask: “Do you want to have a go?” (Yes, you would have to ask that.) Breaking the ice would be easier, because the conversation starter would automatically be there.

Sure, the shy people may benefit or resort to their typical nature. There would be an insecurity if the other person they are to talking to would want to play. The paddles would be similar and established by society as “regulation.” If you were to forget your paddle, you could effectively use your friend’s paddle should said friend not partaking in a match of their own.

Sharing would be in the bylaws. The sharing of paddles would, in turn, would bring society together due to people relearning how to effectively share (again).

But the other person would have to play depending on circumstances: if they are taken and have a jealous partner, if they don’t have effective time to play a full game, if a doctor prohibits playing due to a condition, or if they simply don’t like people. Not only a challenge is a challenge, but it would be a societal requirement. It’s not like you’re having an old-fashioned duel; it’s table tennis for cryin’ out loud.

Oh, let’s take into consideration that there would be no necessity for nets. Not only would carrying such a thing around be an inconvenience. Because women carry purses, they should not be required to do so, and men cannot complain or view the purse as an excuse. The tabletop game would simply have designated sides: “one side” (or “your side”) and “the other.” If the ball goes past either person, the point goes to the scorer.

This would solve a lot of strife as well. A game of table tennis can bring out the best and worst in people. The playful banter you might and enjoy; the other person can be kept around. If the person is way too competitive and overly sensitive, you don’t have to “have a go” with them again or keep them around. But this depends on how the two competitors level. Perhaps there is a greater understanding.

The full game should be played from start to finish, and each full game contains three matches. This way you can get some essential time to get to know someone.

A game can be put on hold and continued another time; certified score forms can be filled out. The paused games are void after 90 days. These cases may happen if the matches run long and the lunch hour is coming to a close. Stand-ins or substitutes are prohibited; two people are only allowed to play each game.

Bragging rights are not restricted.

[This post is inspired by “Inside, Outside” by Lorenzo Mattotti, the cover of the July 29, 2013, edition of The New Yorker.]

2 thoughts on “The Games We Play

  1. OK, Chris … Well-played, as it were. Just remember that in table tennis, it’s the spin that each player puts on the ball that is crucial to the return volley, and so on. And that image of the Pong screen brought back a lot of memories, old fart that I am.

    1. The spin is absolutely crucial. I cannot believe I overlooked that aspect. Trying to post every day aside everything else does put a damper on some quality.

      And you’re not an old fart. You have a lot of pep in your step whenever our paths cross.

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