My eight year old came home yesterday from school with some new skills. He'd learned how to play the game M*A*S*H* which, for those uninitiated, is a grid-elimination game where the host asks the guest to give multiple answers that will predict their future. The categories presented by our own mini-Alec Trebec were "Your Future Spouse", "Your Dream Car", "Favorite Place", "Perfect Job", "Net Worth", and "Number of Kids". It turns out that this playful little exercise ended up being something of a source of conflict for Mrs. Odds and myself, and I walked right into it.
So, here are some handy tips, boys. First, don't let your wife go first. She'll get a dreamy look in her eyes and try to list Clooney four times under "Future Spouse", and I simply don't measure up to George. Secondly, after your dearest finds out she is going to be the next (...or first?) Mrs. George Clooney, her finding out that Bridget Moynahan is your next ex-wife, somehow makes YOU an asshole. In fact, listing anyone other than her is a bad strategy. Third, don't try to rationalize with your eight year old how replacing his mommy with Bridget might lead to getting Tom Brady's autograph, in a hastily sketched awkward custody visit-scenario. With that line of thinking, I just should have listed Giselle Bundershplintz, but I erroneously thought we were playing for fun.
The "Your Dream Car" should be safe, but watch out. I listed an Audi TT as one of my choices, but it sounds an awful lot like an "Outy Titty" to a kid. Ooops. And don't list New Orleans as your favorite place, if - for example - you just fought a knock-down-spit flying-caffeine fueled battle Royale with your spouse about wanting to visit the Big Easy, to which she replied, "Go ahead, asshole." My wife's net worth, according to my son's calculus, turned out to be $1.00. She was not pleased or amused that I "won" all the money in the world.
Perfect job? She listed singer, writer, artist, and teacher. Cute, sweet, potentially real vocations. I listed sniper, cartoonist, inventor, and President. Apparently not cute, sweet, or potentially realistic. Crap, I thought it was a GAME. Under the withering gaze of Mrs. Clooney, I desperately explained to my son that he had said I am a really good sniper just the other day. This hasty backpedaling, as it turns out, was at least a triple error on my part - I let my kid watch me play X-Box 360 Live, I admitted indirectly that I play enough to be good at video games, and that I taught my kid what a sniper is. Again, ooops.
You know, my gut warned me against playing. And my gut is big enough to be heard clearly. I might have escaped permanent harm with the "Number of Kids" question, as I insisted that whatever number of future spawn I got, it had to be preceded by "two plus..." and I avoided teaching my son the term "vasectomy."