While bored at work or if unemployed and bored, write the letters M. A. S. H. (“mansion, apartment, shack, house”) across the top of a piece of recycled paper. Make the letters uniform and straight. Reflect on the last time you played this with your grade-school friends and wonder where they are now and if their lives are as wonderful as they convey on Facebook.
Since you already live in a shack, scratch out “S.” It would be nice to move on to bigger, or at least better, things. But also scratch out “M”—you’re an adult now, and it’s time to adjust your expectations.
Below “A.H.,” draw six boxes of varying shapes and sizes because this is your life and it will never fit into a neat box. Title the boxes (or don’t; you’re your own woman): CRUSH, NUMBER OF DEPENDENTS, LOCATION, JOB, CAR, CAR COLOR.
First, write down the name of someone with whom you’re secretly in love.
Oops, you wrote down a fictional character or celebrity you’ve never even met! Try again.
Really, just write down a name; think of someone unattainable yet undeniably alluring, someone toxic but sexy, someone…ugh, whatever. Leave “Prince William,” even though he’s married and has a newborn baby.
Next, include someone who knows you’re alive. Write down the cute guy who sometimes shares an elevator/hypothetical puppy with you. Facebook “research” him until you think of your next “crush.”
Neatly print the name of an OkCupid match—you’re not really feeling it for him/her, but you might be able to develop feelings over time.
Finally, print the name of an ex you haven’t gotten over in teeny tiny letters so as to minimize the sudden desire to call him, just casually, just to see how his day is going.
NUMBER OF DEPENDENTS
Think about the number of kids you’d like to (one day) list on your taxes. Just for fun write down an egregiously large number. “12.” Reconsider crossing off the “mansion” option—how else will you provide shelter for 12 theoretical offspring? Life is always forcing you to reevaluate.
You know what, actually? You are not ready for parenthood. Now or maybe ever. Especially with a fictitious romantic partner with whom you have neglected to forge a deep, meaningful, everlasting relationship.
Fill in the rest of your options with zeros.
Consider adopting a cat? Cats are nice.
Daydream of the places you’d die to live. Check Craigslist for inspiration. Dwell a bit too long, sabotaging a perfectly crafted fantasy with logical thinking. How does one even move to another country, anyway? And what will happen to the cat you adopted in your head like two minutes ago?
This is all too much, too soon.
Come back to this later.
Write down your current job, either out of fear that you’ll be stuck here indefinitely or hope that one day you’ll like it inexplicably. Feel motivated or despondent.
List two dream jobs! Now you can see how far you are from the person you’d thought you’d be by now. Feel motivated or despondent.
Jot down “unemployed” as the last option. Feel motivated to update your LinkedIn profile and despondent while doing so.
Brainstorm several sensible options in case of unemployment. A Mercedes won’t pay for itself . . . unless you rent out advertising space to sponsors. Wait, is that a thing? What if you could pay for a Mercedes with a just little ingenuity? Write down Mercedes a million times. Imagination is rewarding!
Eh, skip it.
Now pick a number that isn’t 1 and doesn’t have more than a single digit because you’re a grown-ass adult with better things to do than count for an hour.
Count to the selected number, crossing out choices as you land on them. If you nix a choice you want more than anything, DO NOT cheat by fudging the numbers (life is a cold-hearted mistress).
As your mind wanders through the various futures you’ve constructed for yourself, understand that the game is never truly over and that your childhood amusements foreshadowed your worst anxieties.
Play “A.H.” at “slumber parties” (one-night stands), at work (to avoid working), or with friends, real and imaginary. Repeat the game for career planning, family planning, and diversion. Have fun, kids!
Rumpus original art by Annie Daly.
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