Zulkey.com friend and McSweeney's Internet Tendency editor Christopher Monks has a new book out. "The Ultimate Game Guide to Your Life" is written as a faux game guide to a fictional role-playing video game called Your Life®. The reader follows the life of the main character, an unassuming everyman, from his birth to his death, as if he were the main character in a Sims-like video game. Each chapter (or "level" of the game) is a developmental phase of his life, and the book gives tips and tricks along the way to help readers have the most satisfying game (life) experience as possible. Below are a few of the mini-games found early on in the second level of Your Life®, "Your Childhood."
Just as in Your Infant/Toddler Years, you'll earn one LP for every friend you make; and receive another LP for each friendship you're able to maintain year after year. Childhood friends are terribly important, because without them, chances are you won't have many friends later on in Your Life®.
While whapping another child was an effective friend-making strategy as a toddler, it is to be avoided here. All whapping gets you is a visit to the principal's office (which loses you three LPs in itself) or a black eye.
So you're going to have to employ a less visceral approach when it comes to making new friends. Having a rudimentary knowledge of television cartoons and sports teams will go along way to establishing friendships with many boys your age. Study up by watching television and reading the sports page as much as possible.
TIP: Working as a team with one or two other children to humiliate another child is a surefire way to make friends. The only hitch is that friendships based largely on glee at the expense of somebody else's feelings don't last very long, especially if you don't come from a really, really rich family. You also want to choose your targets carefully, as there are some more marginalized kids you really have to be careful with, as some may play important roles later on in Your Life®.
This mini game is initiated anytime after an adult says something far too general. If you correct him with a more accurate answer you'll earn yourself one Life Point (LP). For example, should your father say, "I like your green shirt," and you respond by saying "Actually, it's not a green shirt. It's a light green shirt," you will have won this mini game.
However, should you provide a more literal correction that turns out to be false and exposes you for the inexperienced non-adult that you are, you'll lose an LP. So if you overhear your mother talking about a family photo that she would like to get blown up, and you advise her that burning it would be a lot easier, not only will you lose the mini game, everyone will have a good laugh at your naïve expense.
You won't have much of a choice when it comes to playing this mini game; it either will happen or it won't. Depends a lot on how long you linger by toy-store windows. If you do so for more than one-game minute, the odds of losing sight of your parents greatly increase.
To win this mini game and earn a Life Point you must find your parents before they find you. If you find them, they'll give you a big hug and treat you sympathetically. Often they'll even buy you a toy to make you feel better.
If they find you first, you'll still get a hug, but you'll also get a guilt trip about wandering off and not paying attention, and you'll lose an LP. Take it from us, you'll get enough guilt trips during Your Life® as it is, so do your best to find them first.
TIP: Mom will usually be at Nordstrom; Dad at Brookstone, in the multifunction massage chair.
It's virtually impossible not to go through Your Childhood without losing at least one mitten. So don't get all bent out of shape if this should occur once, twice, or a dozen times. You'll drop a Life Point for every mitten you lose and will suffer the exasperated sighs of your parents when they learn that yet another one is gone.
We have yet to find a surefire way of winning--or, better put, not losing--this mini game consistently. We've tried reminding ourselves, leaving notes in our pockets, using those annoying clips that attach to the sleeves of our coat, but nothing has worked.* It seems that only the passing of time enables you to lose your mittens less often, as the older you get, the better you become at keeping track of where your mittens are. But by then you've moved on to losing other things, like your keys, your cell phone, and your sanity.
* Adewale Obo of Tanzania is the gamer on record to have never lost a mitten. We can't help but be awed and annoyed by this feat.
For more information about ordering Christopher's book, please visit "The Ultimate Game Guide to Your Life's blog.