I created this post in response to a fun writing exercise from Patti Miller’s book Writing Yourself: A journey of discovery the revised and expanded 2001 edition (original 1994). The exercise can be found on page 99, “Workshop IV: Finding Your Voice.” Basically, you take a memory and write about it in the present tense as a child and later re-write it in the past tense as an adult.
Game Night (child’s perspective)
These are the best nights, well maybe second to the movie nights when we make beds on the sofa and loveseat and then watch movies until we both fall asleep. We do that more often because usually we can’t find the Atari because it is buried under a pile of clutter or it won’t work properly. However, tonight it is running fine.
It’s well past bedtime and I’m not even tired. Dad finally sat down with me in the dark living room, the only light is from the TV. I’m careful not to turn around, it is so black behind me and I’m sure something lives in that back foyer. That’s the biggest reason that I never use the stairs back there. I’m safe here in the hazy TV light though.
The bowl of ketchup chips between us is wonderful. I don’t actually like the chip, but the sweet taste of the powdery ketchup is yummy and the gritty feel of it on my tongue as I lick the flavour off is fascinating. My tongue is stinging a bit thought, one to many flavourful licks. The best is that dad doesn’t seem to mind that I’m dropping them back into the bowl without flavour. He is more interested in that musty smelling drink that makes him pee like a racehorse with a bladder infection, and by that I mean long and frequently. Personally, I will stick to drinking this fizzy orange pop. It’s cold, rich, and it feels like a million tingles popping through my mouth.
Tonight is Pac-Man night. The sound of that little yellow ball chomping dots, more of a whomp whomp sound, echoes in this big room.
Game Night (adult perspective)
I used to love those nights we stayed up till past midnight playing video games. The dull haze from the television the only light, and it cast a soft bubble over us. Dad would sit on the floor beside me and both of us would be propped against a cushion or a beanbag. The hours would slip by filled with the yeasty smell of beer and the sounds of a father versus daughter competition: yelling, laughing, and teasing.
These occasions came dressed up with pop and chips. I loved that smooth wooden chip bowl, it was a rich brown and it held a whole bag of chips. I never worried about the following day even though it would be horrible for me. Stale chips for breakfast in addition to being trapped inside the house because the locks were to tight and stiff for my small hands to open.
The sun would be streaming through the windows accompanied by the distance sounds of my friends playing without me. The stupid yellow whistle he bought for me to use to wake him up was useless. Its sharp ear piercing nose was worse than nails on a chalkboard to me, but he slept through it even when I blew it directly in his ear. A freight train crashing into the house couldn’t penetrate the alcohol induced comas.
I hated that, those mornings after a fun night. I didn’t hate them enough though to sacrifice those rare moments of bonding.
By Shari Marshall -2017