The Person Game™


“Okay, I’ve got someone.”

We were driving up to a concert that night in Oakland. I had already commented on how long it had been since the last time the four of us had all been the same car driving someplace together (probably to Disneyland — we rarely ever all drove together even when we were going to the same place in town, like to a dinner). I had already commented and investigated how long it had been since all four of us were going to the same concert (probably to Jason Mraz — to see Chaska play, I deduced from looking at the Concerts on my List of Lists). After the game show podcast finished, I remembered how we passed the time, with our version of The Person Game™, and I really had the best person to proffer.

The series of questions (not twenty, not places nor things) generally begin in the same way and branches off in predictable limbs of logical reasoning for the first five or six questions. Real or Imaginary? Famous? We know this person? Male or Female? Our age? Your age? Your friend? My friend? Mom’s friend? Dad’s friend? Cean invited this person to the party? You don’t know if they were at previous solstices? Do they live in Corralitos? You don’t know where they live?

We were in uncharted Person Game™ territory.

We knew this person because none of us knew who this person was, other than they had been at the party. Did I interact with this person? Did you? Was this person at dinner? Did they have a visitor badge? Black hair? How long? Were they dressed up? This person stood out? There was an event? Were they super drunk?

I just couldn’t help but smile from my shotgun seat— it was kind of the best person I’d come up with in years, so many of my answers were “No” and “I don’t know.” It was also possible we hadn’t played in years, either.

My favorite incorrect guess (after Marta, the schizophrenic, who generally is found carrying large gardening tools throughout Corralitos) was “The Book Lady” who walks down our street while also reading a book, just about every day, in the late afternoon. For years, actually decades at this point, as far as I can tell. Unless she was actually two different women. Given how little we knew about her and yet so much about her literary gate, I had so many questions about her, and the other day had almost stopped to inquire about her reading. Some alternative version of the person game, but with more open-ended questions.

The GPS had taken us off the highway traffic, onto a side street full of empty warehouses. We were in Fremont, because we could still see the TESLA factory, by the time we made it back onto the highway and into the carpool lane, a seemingly pointless detour, and the guesses continued.

How many books? What is your favorite? Where do you walk to? And from? How many pages do you typically read during a walk? Are there genres books you can’t read while walking? Do you only read while you walk? Have you ever run into anything on your walk?

“Oh! The woman with Medical Training!?” 

That was all we actually knew about her.

Each session of the game is an odd list of characters, humans, animals, creatures from mythology, politicians, heads of state, friends, and now I had successfully added strangers to the list. I also added whales — Gracie, specifically, the pregnant humpback from Star Trek IV.

I noticed something else within myself as the game player moved through the car after the concert on the way back home. I thought about what a history it would be to start recording — just simple lists — all of the persons we’ve slowly interrogated into naming over the years. Would only that list of names alone be enough? To remind me of a specific car ride? And what exactly did it say about me, to be thinking now, for the first time, about even writing that down? Was there really a story even in this thing, in the creative and logical and funny way we passed long hours in the car?

Is this person obsessed with writing?

Do they have a problem?

What hasn’t this person written about?

Why hadn’t this person thought about writing these lists down until now?

Has this person changed, and was this thought indicative of the change?








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