When Scott and I first got married, hmm, maybe we were just living together, whichever, it was a long time ago, we used to have one night every week that we called Stupid TV Night. It was whatever night Duet and Love and War (I think those were the two shows, I know it was Duet) were on. Our friends Caroline and Clarence would come over and we'd all watch stupid TV together. We loved the shows, we just made fun of ourselves for doing so. Anyway, after the shows the gals would talk, and the guys would play chess. We did this every week until the shows were cancelled. Later, Clarence and Scott would go off places and play chess while Caroline and I would hang out. It was a ritual.
I just realized, that though there have been some breaks, Scott and I have had this sorts of ritual for our entire marriage. When we moved to California we would hang out with my friend Carol and her family and have Prisoner Nights. We Watched the entire series (original, of course) over the span of several weeks, watching two episodes a night. During that period, Scott and I were living with my folks. We didn't have much room and escaping to Carol and Co.'s place was the highlight of my week. We did other things with them. I spent a lot of time there, and Carol would come over to our place and play Myst (which was awesome; we made a really great team).
Once we got out of my parent's house, and finally had a place of our own, we started Game Night. Game Night has been an institution ever since. It's been about FOURTEEN YEARS! Every Friday night people come to our house to play games. If we are not around on a particular Friday then GN gets cancelled. Sometimes it moves to other people's places (when we were on tour for a year Nat Gertler and family took the gauntlet up in our absence).
Sometimes Game Night is really big. Sometimes it's really small. A few weeks ago only two people showed up and instead of playing games we all went out to a movie.
When we started Game Night our girls were both very young. We would try to play games they'd appreciate early (Nintendo became their competing ground) and then the adults would stay up late playing other things. We went through a time when our kids brought lots of their friends and we all played together or the kids would lock themselves away to do their own thing. There are times when Sky or Winter's friends will show up for GN knowing that Sky and/or Winter are not there that week. They know they're welcome even if the person they would normally hang out with is not there.
We've watched people grow up and a new generation be born.
At a well-attended Game Night we have had people there representing every decade of age from single digits to the '60s.
The people who come to our house every week are family. I love my immediate family and they will frequently come to Game Night (though my parents only come these days if one of my siblings is in town and they're coming with them), but the other people who come to Game Night are just as much family as the one I was born into.
They all know that they are always welcome to come over. They need to call first to make sure someone is around, but if we are, they know we want to see them and spend time with them. If we have a problem, I know I can call them and if they can help they will, and if they have a problem they know that if we can help, we will. They also know that they are welcome at any holiday. For Passover, we will frequently have all sorts of non Jewish family members joining our seder. Thanksgiving, any holiday really, that someone doesn't have a place to go for, they know they are welcome at ours. Because they are family.
About a week ago, I got a phone call from a number that I didn't recognize. I usually don't answer those, but this wasn't an 800 number so I took a chance. It was Paul Smith. (Have I done my Paul Post? I can't remember. If I haven't I will interject here that Paul is awesome, and you should harass me into doing a Paul Post) (the important info for understanding this story: A) this would be Mighty Paul Smith of X-Men and Leave it to Chance fame, B) Paul is a beloved Game Night regular who has moved away to the wilds of Colorado, and is terribly missed). The reason I'm telling you this at all is because of WHY Paul called. I adore Paul, and hearing from him anytime is a treat, but the reason he called was because he had just been driving and saw a shadow and looked closer and realized that the shadow was actually a bear! He thought that was so cool and he needed to tell someone. He decided that I should be the person he told. I don't know if he wanted the whole world to also share in this, but I think it's so cool that I'm telling you anyway. I feel honored that I was the person that Paul decided needed to know this. I love bears, so I'm also a bit jealous. But, anyway. SO COOL!
(and now back to our regularly scheduled blog post)
There are rules and traditions of Game Night (there's the 6:15 rule, and the Sushi Sorting Algorithm and silly brownies on birthdays, etc). When Scott and I were looking for a new place to live, part of the deciding factor in choosing was whether or not there was enough parking for people visiting. In the end, the reason we picked the place we did had as much to do with the bigger living area than almost anything else. It was the only place we looked at that looked like it be big enough to fit Game Night.
There are weeks when I spend everyday counting down how long it will be to Game Night.
There are other weeks when I really don't want to deal at all. Funny thing is, even the weeks when I don't want to deal with GN, I'm still glad I did. First of all, it forces us to clean at least a little bit every week. But more importantly, I always have a good time. I like being with other people I like spending time with them. Even days when I don't feel like playing games and spend most of the night sitting in a corner on my phone trying to catch up on Twitter, I'm always glad to be around people. (See. Extrovert)
But I forget. This past weekend our friend Krystal had a birthday (Happy birthday, Krystal!) and she threw a party. I didn't really want to go. It was going to be her friends and I was feeling anti-social. We'd had Game Night the night before, half the people from GN would be at the party. I don't know, feeling down? Who can say. I was just in a mood. But I went because I love Krystal and it was her annual pie party (everyone brings pie, mmmm) and because I knew I should. Needless to say, I had a wonderful time. I know many of Krystal's friends, and had plenty of people I could talk with. And, as usual, I was one of the last to leave.
This is why Scott and I have a party every week. Sitting alone in a room is what I would do if I could. If I lived alone (something I've never done in my whole life. Ever) then I would probably sit in my room all day. I expect I'd go to work so that I could afford the room that I sat in, but barring that, I think I would not sleep, not talk to anyone, not go anywhere other than for purposes of food, work or movies. I don't know why I think this. but I do. On the other hand, in this solitary life I envision, if anyone called and invited me out, I might go. And if I did, I'd be glad, but then I'd forget that I was glad and have to be invited out before I would willingly leave again.
So, thank goodness I'm married and have really awesome friends. Because every week people come over. They play games, we talk, we eat sushi and junk food. Other days during the week I have friends that, when they can, come over and we watch stupid TV (by which I mean shows that I love, currently different friends and I are watching: due South, White Collar, and NCIS: Los Angeles). I've had two people in the last week tell me of auditions that they think I should go to, so perhaps I will. And if, by chance, I manage to get cast, then I will spend even less time at home.
These days, getting out, doing things, takes mental energy. I need to be forced to do it. And yet, I'm always glad that I did. It doesn't really make sense.
In other news, Scott and I saw Margin Call today. Scott and I had different reasons for wanting to see it. He wanted to see it because it looked like it would be an interesting movie with a good cast. Me. I was much more shallow. I wanted to see it because of Stanley Tucci. And Zachary Quinto. Oh, and Paul Bettany. Jeremy Irons. And of course Kevin Spacey. In that order. Since I'm not sure that there was a single scene that didn't have at least one of them in it, I think I enjoyed it more than Scott. It took me a while to understand why I should care (I got what was going on, but it took a bit to get why the world would care and not just them). Other than that I was fascinated.
Recently, our friend Lauren had a day off and when she found out that Scott and I had yet to see Crazy Stupid Love, a movie she liked enough that she'd already seen it twice, she decided to rectify that. I found out that she had yet to see Captain America, which I had seen twice, and they were both playing at the 2nd run house, a double feature was born. I liked Crazy Stupid Love, it was not nearly as embarrassing as I'd feared. There was a scene or two I had trouble with (interestingly, NOT the ones that Winter thought would bother me), but on the whole it was fun. On the other hand, I love love love Captain America. The most telling thing about the night though, for me, was the trailers. Both movies had trailers meant to appeal to the audience going to that movie. Of the trailers before Crazy Stupid Love I don't know that I wanted to see any of the movies, the ones in front of Captain America....those, I wanted to see all of. Clearly, I am an adolescent boy.
Next month is going to be busy busy busy. Looking at my calendar I'm amazed at all that's going to be going on. I have the feeling I'm going to be spending very little time in my room.
Which, I suppose is a good thing. I am an extrovert, after all.