Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Cows and Llamas

Remember this one?

In the game of Chutes and Ladders you move around on a board in the hopes of being the first to get to number 100 and be the winner.

Along the way if you land on a spot where you've done a good deed you can climb a ladder and skip a bunch of spaces. For example, according to the picture on space number 4, you have taken food without permission, used electric mixers and stoves without parental supervision, handled raw and/or undercooked dairy products, measured out chemical agents then greased AND floured a pan. What is the result? Why, you've made yourself a yummy, yummy cake that you share with NOBODY. Hooray! Climb up that ladder and skip from 4 to 14. Karma rewards your deeds with a veritable Stairway to Heaven.

Likewise, if you land on 16, then shame on you, for you are reading a comic book. It makes no difference that 1) you are actually reading, 2) knew where to locate an object known as a "book" in which to hide your comics, or 3) chose this activity over television, video games, and burning down the house while impersonating Julia Child. No! It's the Chute for you, sinner. Down, down, down you go to number 6, where you have to sit on a stool and wear the Tin Man's hat.

I've come to realize life isn't that much different from a never-ending Groundhog's Day version of Chutes and Ladders. Day in and day out I am constantly competing against life (or Karma, or fate, or just plain old dumb luck) in the hopes that I will win the game.

Managed to leave the house on time? Ladder, baby!
Forgot my lunch? Awww, Chute!

On and on and on it goes, from the trivial to the less-than-sublime. Traffic lights, lunch lines, parking, 6th grade homework, 6th grade behavior, bills, toddlers, laundry, dishes... It never stops. If I'm lucky it's two steps forward, one step backward. If I'm unlucky, it's one step forward, two steps backward. Mostly, I just fear those days when I have no feet at all.

My morning commute to TunaU provides me with one of my best Chutes and Ladders barometers of the day. Each morning I drive past several of the livestock research pastures, and how far traffic is backed up tells me how my day is going to be. It's a odd sort of livestock Magic 8-Ball. Will GreenTuna have a good day? Bossy says outlook not so good. If I'm stopped at the cows (and cowpies), it's chute city. Making it as far as the sheep isn't baaaaad, but when I make it to Llarry the Llama, happy days are here again and it's ladder time.

Unfortunately, making it past Old McTuna's farm is merely the first of many chutes and ladders. True Karma doesn't take the form of hamburger, wooly idols or Peruvian blankets. The ultimate test of the morning is getting past the three (count them, THREE) sets of train tracks. Cows might be bad, but being a train sandwich is much, much worse.

Of course, it is possible to work the system by changing the rules, calling in sick and go home.

Game over. VOLCANO!

Until tomorrow, when it's back to square one.


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