The Memorial Day That Was

The freedom to sue each other for $100,000
The freedom to sue each other for $100,000

The weather in Chicagoland wasn’t up to snuff this Memorial Day weekend. After all, it’s all about the barbecue. But rain has a tougher time keeping you inside on Memorial Day weekend than just about any other weekend. Case in point, on Sunday a friend of mine, who thoughtfully lives over an hour away, had planned on launching the opening salvo of the weekend get-togethers that will go on all summer around here. Under overcast skies and the threat of rain, every single invitee showed up, bringing food, beer, kids, and even a live band (we all know the guys in the band so they had to show up or lose face). Eventually Mother Nature dumped water on us, but that didn’t stop us from thoroughly enjoying ourselves and engaging in enjoyable activities, like leaving my son’s coat at my friend’s house, who, I may have mentioned, thoughtfully lives over an hour away.

Monday was a different story. The sky was overcast once again and the temperature cool, creating a dreary day. I was hanging out with my son this weekend, but we didn’t feel like doing much. Maybe it was the party the previous day or maybe it was the weather, but for the most part we stayed in, except for a brief moment in the afternoon where we stepped outside to play some catch.

Most of the time when we stay indoors we play board games. Lately, my son loves The Game of Life, which goes all the way back to my own childhood, but looks a heck of a lot nicer now, what with all the fancy graphics they do these days. That’s right, life back in my day was dull and monotone, while the young kids of today have it all cute and colorful. There, I said it. I’m old…ish.

Just like in real life, nothing in the game went as planned. I started out going to college, taking a higher-paying career as an accountant (and some fine student loan debt), and banking cash right way. Then I lost my job, had to go back to school to become a veterinarian, got sued three times, never had any kids, and dropped coin on a number of inane things that I never would in real life (pay $125,000 to sponsor an art show? Really?). Yet somehow I was able to win The Game of Life equivalent of both American Idol AND So You Think You Can Dance.

My son, on the other hand, didn’t go to college and could only land a career as a mechanic. Ha! Then he went back to school and became a lawyer, sued me three times, had three kids, had grandkids, adopted pets from shelters, and retired with a fortune at Millionaire Acres (or whatever). Clearly, life is not fair.

But only after the game did we both realize that something was missing from The Game of Life.

This is probably going to be overly sentimental, but my son idolizes his uncle because he servers in the United States Army. One of the first things we did on Monday was to call his uncle and wish him a happy Memorial Day. I don’t have to tell you that an uncle who has a nephew who idolizes him because of his military service is a pretty happy uncle. Anyway, after a weird, but strangely realistic round of The Game of Life, we noticed that military service is not to be found anywhere on the game board. You would think that would be early on somewhere, maybe a square that says “Join the military, pay $5,000 to try to locate your VA benefits.” But I couldn’t find anything.

Most squares on The Game of Life board are about either paying money or being paid money, or having kids (for which you will pay money). So, going to college, sending kids to day-care, winning a singing competition, changing careers, having plastic surgery, etc., all revolve around your bank account. But what do you get when you join the military? Self-esteem, confidence, life-changing experience, honor, respect, a nephew that admires you?

I guess you can’t translate that into cash.

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