I had an idea for a column this week. I still have the idea. I’ll probably bring it to life soon. But before I could sit down and write a column tonight I had to sit down and do the pre-bedtime routine. It always consists of some reading. The girls and I finished up Huck Finn tonight, and they loved it so much they didn’t want it to end so we even read the short biography of Mark Twain at the end. Usually after reading I let the girls watch a show in my room, but tonight we were in more of a game sort of mood. We started with BopIt but BopIt is hard. Then we were gonna go a few rounds of UNO but we can’t remember where we put UNO, so that was also out. Then, I remembered a game that I used to go completely ape for as a kid.
So I introduced my kids to MASH.
Then, I tweeted about it.
Then, I discovered that someone has never heard of MASH.
So I had to correct that, immediately. And then I got to thinking, how many people of Warren also do not know about MASH?
And the fact that there could possibly be one person in Warren County who doesn’t know how to play MASH was utterly unacceptable to me, so I’ve decided to remedy that today.
MASH is a pen and paper fortune telling game played by kids between the ages of eight to twelve, almost exclusively female, that involves laying to rest any anxiety over how one’s life will end up.
Okay. So get out a sheet of paper and a pen, and gather ’round, kiddos! Let’s find out your fortune.
At the top of the page, write in all capital letters the word MASH. That stands for mansion, apartment, shack, and house. Just in case you actually don’t know how to play this game, in which case, did you attend elementary school in Calcutta? Because come on, dude.
Now we’re going to make categories. The bare minimum things you absolutely must conjure using the ancient mystical wisdom of the fates are:
1. a spouse
2. the number of offspring you’ll produce
3. an occupation
4. a vehicle, and
5. a family pet
I encourage you, however, to really paint yourself a picture of how miserable you’re going to be in approximately 35 to 40 years.
You should definitely also ask the oracle about where you’ll be living, how much you’ll be making annually, the legacy you’ll be known by for centuries to come, and the manner in which you exit Earth.
I mean, if you’re going to have the universe on the phone you may as well get as much information as possible.
Usually, this game is played with more than one person, and the involved comrades are morally required to choose the fourth item for each category. Not only to choose it, but to ensure that you have at least a sliver of a chance of living a truly heinous life. If you’re really brave, you can play this game with three people who hate the living crap out of you and let all but your own entries in each category be disastrous.
Now, I don’t actually have any friends, but I do have the internet, which is basically the same exact thing.
So I’ve gone ahead and laid out my clandestine little Ouija board. Furthermore, because I’ve achieved precisely the level of self-loathing any respectable 37-year-old spinster should have for herself, I’ve chosen to let the internet populate all four items in every category. I’ve also closed my eyes and created a spiral, the tentacles of which I’ve added up and recorded.
Now, you do all these things as well. Go on. Do it now. I’ll be here when you’re finished. If you don’t have the internet, I suggest asking your actual spouse, your children, or your aging parents for undesirable items in each category. I guarantee you they’re all willing to help you destroy your fictional future. It may even be a good team-building exercise. And cathartic.
“Darling, could you please suggest a hideous hose beast for me to wed in an alternate reality.”
“Why of course, sweetheart. I’d love to. That way I won’t need to smother you in your sleep tonight and then go to the trouble of coming up with an alibi or committing your body to our backyard.”
It’s magic. Right hand to God. You can thank me for saving your marriage later. Or tomorrow. With monetary donations.
Whatever you’re into.
So at this point, you’ve got yourself teetering on some level of potential awfulness, depending on how many other people or online random list generators you’ve allowed to participate.
Let’s get started then, shall we?
Starting at the M in Mash, count ahead each item the exact number of items as concentric rings you made in your pentagram…I mean, your “spiral” earlier.
It’s cool. I’ll wait. You may go cry if you need to, but there is absolutely no cheating in MASH. This game is unforgiving, and not for the weak of will. Also, I lied. You may not go cry. At all. There’s no crying in baseball, and there’s for sure no crying in MASH. You step into this arena prepared or you stay on the sidelines, homie.
How’d you do?
Are you married to the King of Scotland? Perhaps you’ve found yourself in the unenviable position of Chief Snake Milker? Are you making 18 dollars a year? Living in Paris? Tell me, is su casa a shack or a mansion?
Did you have fun?
I did. But wait. There’s more.
The very best part of MASH, and the part I enjoyed most this evening, as my girls discovered the ecstatic joy of this delicious witchcraft, is reciting the outcome in narrative form.
I don’t know how you’re doing right now. But if you’re not digging your own grave and giving up on life altogether, let me tell you my fortune.
I’m a shack-dwelling Tiger King bringing home $84,556 bucks a year, guys. I think I just live in the shack because I’m ridiculously humble. I live there with my husband, Severus Snape, and our 43 1/3 children. I know. But tigers. I mean 43 1/3 out of 44 children is not too shabby a survival rate. I mean, they all survived. It’s just that little Horatio will have to live without 2/3 of his body. It’s fine. It’s all gonna be fine. I live in a shack by choice, so I can afford the outrageous medical bills. And we love him just as much as we would if he weren’t a fraction. Scout’s honor.
We’re living in Hell, Michigan, which is an actual place that you should totally go to if you’re into kitsch and puns. Which I am. Bigtime. My superpower is snort-laughing. That’s not an item on my MASH list. It’s just a fact.
Anyhow, me and Severus, we’re saving a ton of money every year on vehicle maintenance. Because our vehicle is an Amish buggy. Pulled by a team of well-muscled warmbloods we keep in a whole separate barn from the tigers.
We learned our lesson after Horatio. And we’re not monsters.
Our family pet is a Yeti. Which is also housed away from the tigers, for the safety of the tigers. We don’t need any hippie-dippie Carole Baskin types sniffing around our shack. Or our tigers. Or any of our dang business whatsoever. And while I’ll be passing away in a freak accident which involves me being eaten alive by deer, I’m going to leave behind one heck of a legacy. As the Worst Mom Ever.
That part is actually probably true. According to several of my own family members.
If you have kids, there’s probably something from your own childhood that you relish sharing with them. If you don’t have something from your childhood that you’ve enjoyed sharing with your kids, then maybe you need to sit down with them and play a game or two of MASH.