Humor from on High

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Bar Game

Try this game sometime....the next time you go out with some friends to a local watering hole, for instance. Invent a persona, and try to convince the first stranger you talk to that night (preferably of the opposite sex) that you ARE that character you've just invented. Try it on ALL strangers you meet that night, if you wish. If you want to really challenge yourself, as I and my roomates sometimes do, awards go to the person who comes up with the most ludicrous story possible which is still relatively believable. During the most recent version of this game, the award went to my roommate Jeff (aka. Chicks), who wanted to be Jeff Decimal (shockingly, not his real last name), a rich heir to the house of his Great-Grandpa Decimal, inventor of the Dewey Decimal system. Now, if you were a relatively bright person, you might have several questions upon hearing this mini-biography from Jeff. Foremost among those would be...how can their be an 'heir' to the Dewey Decimal system inventor? Where's the money? You also might ask...wouldn't the inventor of the Dewey Decimal system be named Dewey and not Decimal? After all, it is a numbered system, complete with a decimal point. But if you're not a relatively bright person, or maybe you are, but you're just drunk enough not to know the difference, these questions don't occur to you and it sounds like a wonderful story. You might even receive a mild thrill, standing in the presence of a semi-celebrity. Hence, the brilliance of the Game.

Now, Stage 2 of the Persona Game is a bit more complicated, and not for the timid. Stage 2 is where you actually take your story to the people, and see if it sticks. I'm not personally the most Type A person in the world, so this is the part of the Game that is more difficult. I can come up with a million Inventor of the Lime or 2nd Cousin to John Cusack personas, but to succesfully implement them is the hard part. Especially if you have to answer follow-up questions. For instance, somewhat might come back at the Grandpa Decimal story with one of the very questions I addressed above. "How can you be an heir? You can't make royalties off the Dewey Decimal system can you?" Well here's where it gets a little difficult when it's live. You could say, "Well actually, every library in the nation pays a user fee to use the DD system, so I get a check in the mail at the end of every week." Or you could say, "Well, Great Grandad also invented other things." "Like what?" "Cough syrup." So many paths to choose. This is the fun and (dare I say) creative part of the whole Game. Whichever road you take, you're not only committed to it for the rest of your interaction with this strange person, but you also have to remember what the hell you said ten minutes ago.

The Persona Game lets you learn other great things, as well, like how to artfully get OUT of these conversations. Or how to break it to this person you've just convinced that you're a jockey even though you're closer to 7 feet than 5 when you feel guilty or actually start to like them and want to tell them who you REALLY are. These things become even more difficult if you ever engage in the Persona Game on an airplane. You may be stuck next to this person for 3+ hours, and you might have to keep up the charade the entire time. Maybe a careful blend of autiobiographical and fictional details is appropriate for the situation? A lot of factors have to be..well...factored in.

I personally have a lot of experience in a variation of the Persona Game...the Height Game. As the name of my blog implies, I'm quite tall. In fact, 6'2" is what I tell the half-dozen or so people that ask me each day, "Hey man. How tall are you?" It's a bit of an inside joke between myself and many of my closer friends. There are several "typical" responses to this. The most common is total belief. The second is something in the neighborhood of, "Oh really? That's suprises me because I have a cousin who's 6'4" and you seem a lot taller than him." And quite a few people know immediately that I'm completely screwing with them, even with my award-winning dead pan face and voice while delivering the line. Kudos to you people! But as I have been continually suprised by the amount of people who actually believe what I tell them, it led to early versions of the Persona Game, as I wondered how much people would actually believe. In fact, at my significant altitude, I once convinced two young women at an outdoor bar that I was a blacksmith at the local track, so I could be close to horses, as my dream of being a jockey had gone unfullfilled earlier in life.

"What do you do?" "Blacksmith by trade. Jockey by training."