Ritalin Sold Separately

At eleven and eight, respectively, my niece and twin nephews are now permanently molded into intelligent, discerning, brand-conscious consumer slaves—and ready to take their operant conditioning to the next level of capitalist absurdity. So this Christmas their parents and I decided to arrange a new challenge for them; something better than the usual round-robin of opening presents, feigning surprise, and posing for pictures with their drunk relatives. And what better way for kids to sharpen their predatory teeth in the New Economy® than with a game of Random Sudden Death Presents?

Here’s how it worked. The adults put a smattering of gifts under the tree. The gifts were wrapped but left unmarked, and consisted of the following: one tiara, one pair of skinny jeans, one t-shirt with the glittery slogan “Future Student Loan Slave,” one bicycle, one skateboard, one scale model of an aircraft carrier, one scale model of an unfurnished studio apartment with no central heating, an Xbox with only one controller, a baseball bat, a breakup letter, a box of marbles, a part-time job, and a stack of unpaid traffic tickets.

At the count of three, the kids were released—all at once—and scrambled into the colorful pile of Christmas plunder made possible by their corporate masters Santa. This was called the Acquisition Phase*.

Following the Acquisition Phase*, the kids were allowed one trade of a single item; otherwise they had to keep what they got. When one of the boys wanted to “regift” his tiara, the response he got was, “Suck it up, Cinderella!” since no one else wanted a tiara. This rule was strictly enforced.

[Parents: Relax. This rule is surprisingly effective at reinforcing favorable character traits and other important skills like openness, tolerance, empathy, generosity, hyper-organizing for ADHD, black market trading, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.]

In keeping with the corrosive myth formerly known as the American Dream—while dispensing with an even more corrosive myth that “everyone is a winner”—this game had only one winner; the other 67% were the losers. (The 99% was reduced by a factor of 32% for an obvious mathematical reason: there’s no way in hell my sister was going to birth 100 kids.) The winner was determined by whoever had the good sense to act grateful and not complain. This year’s winner received an iPad loaded with tons of spyware apps and free albums released in a shameless act of self-promotion songs, plus a trip to Las Vegas left in a hotel room while Mom and Dad gamble downstairs. The losers each received a sample foreclosure notice.

The results were as follows: [Redacted. See below.]

“Yay, presents!… Wait, what’s this game called again?”

Pictured at right are the kids shortly before the Acquisition Phase*, modeling their protective body pads specially made by their Nana (my mom) who calmly reassured them that my sister and I survived several Christmases involving a similar gift-giving process. (I still have the scar from a Commodore 64 to prove it.)

Not pictured is the aftermath. In the emergency room. Stitches. Ignore that. A call was not placed by an “anonymous” neighbor (we know who you are) with a spurious report of “domestic violence.” The dog isn’t dressed up as Cinderella now. No further details are provided in case Child Protective Services is reading this too.

*Incidentally, the phase after that was called Now Clean Up This Mess and Go Outside While the Adults Continue to Get Drunk.

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9 thoughts on “Ritalin Sold Separately

  1. Pingback: Ritalin Sold Separately | WELCOME TO AUTHOR SAED ISMAIL H.AWED OFFICIAL WEBSITE.

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