I’m burnt out from the online political arguments. Tried distraction yesterday, went to the zoo (yes I did enjoy watching the gorillas, thankyouverymuch). That was nice, but not quite enough. Back to disgusted by 9pm last night. So this morning I was thinking, we need a game. A nice, game, old-fashioned yet modern. Naturally, LARPing came to mind. So much talk about the good old days, why not go back to them? Yes, everyone currently ranting, please join in. At first I thought everyone should play, but then, as I thought more about the premise, I decided that if I want to keep to the spirit being touted as proper American values–yanno, my rights and conveniences are of more value than those of my neighbors or society–I don’t have to give up my Housewives or torture myself into a corset.
What shall we call our game? Women in the Kitchen? Back of the Bus? We Don’t Need No Stinking Badges? Maybe we should just keep it simple, call it America. Though that might be exclusionary. How about, History–Revisionist Edition?
The 1930s. In thinking about what time period to choose, I wanted to be fair and really support those who are mourning lost values. I considered 50 years ago, but that leaves us at the beginning of the peace and love era, dirty hippies are certainly not pictured on the memes I see going around, and really, why distribute windowpanes to distance ourselves from this glorious trip down memory lane? 100 years ago? Hmm, that feels a bit too distant, electricity wasn’t common in American households until the ’30s, and it wasn’t until the 1920s that Congress passed the Emergency Quota Act and the Immigration Act of 1924. Yanno, immigration restrictions in the good old days, working hard to prevent Asian immigrants, as well as Italian, Jewish, and Slav immigrants from setting foot on our red white and blue shores. Besides, in the early 1930s, more people were emigrating from America than immigrating into it. (Is that the current desire and dream?) Great Depression and all that.
While I and my fellow filthy liberal hippies keep score, those who believe in traditional values like backsliding, giving away rights, hating your neighbors, yourselves, and equal opportunities will get to live the dream. If you are from a family of longtime, multi-generational wealth that didn’t go under with the stock market crash of 1929, I’m sorry, you are ineligible to play. Unfortunately for you, your place in our culture was, is, and always will be secure. Anyway, this is gonna be awesome. Tremendous, even.
Concerned that you won’t have enough people and ethnic groups to hate? Pfft, we won’t leave you without, plenty of ethnic groups and minorities to blame for…everything. Sure, the Land of the Free wasn’t quite as mixed then, but believe it or not, there were brown people. And for those who aren’t sure there were enough people of color to hate, we’ve got you covered, with the “wrong” white people until those numbers come up. Concerned about having to live without your AR 15s and AK 47s? I know, so sad, so SCARY. In exchange for giving up your inalienable right to be a one man army, we’ve got other, more traditional good old days guns and rifles. And beatings! Sure, not as splashy as a semi-automatic, but is there anything quite as satisfying as old-fashioned bones-of-the-powerless-and-disenfranchised cracking under your fists? Who says the right to vote for women need take away your swagger? Gratifying and manly, you don’t need any Latinos or Eye-talians to teach you about machismo.
In the very early 1930s, 25% of potentially wage-earning Americans were unemployed. Please draw a card to determine if you have a job or not. If your card is lower than a 5, you have no job. Luckily for you, there’re also no disgusting, Socialist (ooh, so scary) Welfare, Food Stamps, Social Security, Medicaid, or Unemployment benefits in place. I’m so glad you get to hold true to your values. Don’t worry, your family and neighbors will take care of you, if you draw an ace. They’ll throw you a rotting cabbage and a bit of chicken skin.
If you are employed, it is of course because you’re a harder worker than the guy in the next town over whose factory folded when the owner took a swan dive off the church tower after the Stock Market crashed. You deserve employment, you’re a real American. None of those commie unions to deal with, either. You’re secure in your right to work in unsafe conditions, your children working right alongside you without the unnecessary complications of health insurance, days off, overtime pay, or your right arm. No worries, the Black Lung will keep you feeling warm.
And it’s all ok. Better than ok. You’ve got all the time in the world, without the modern distractions of cable tv, video games, internet access, cell phones, or reliable refrigeration. You’ve got radio, that’s all you sinners who insist on entertainment need! If you’re in the Great Plains, you have an excess of time, what with the lack of farmable farmland in the Dust Bowl. If you’re a woman, that is excellent news, plenty of hours in the day for washing, drying, and ironing clothes, cleaning the house, gardening, cooking (all from scratch, no frozen dinners, take-out, or convenience foods, and taking care of the children–yup, plenty of children! (sorry, no birth control or D&Cs allowed during your month of gaming, that would be cheating. Unwanted pregnancy? Bad timing? No such thing, you’re a woman.) As a woman, you’re even allowed to vote, what more do you want?
Are you a recent immigrant? You might be a bit confused, wondering where we’ve hidden those streets of gold. And the jobs, where are those opportunities? Good thing you came here and learned English overnight, assimilating immediately and working without pause. I know this is true because your modern selves talk about this all. the. time. (“My Grandpa came to America and spoke English!” “I’m proud to say I can’t speak a word of any other language!”) Unless, of course, you were a minority, in which case, you were the first to lose your job, if you had landed one in the first place. You won’t be lonely, you’ve got plenty of company what with all the other non-immigrant minorities (including Native Americans, who invited them, anyway? They should never have made it through Ellis Island.) who lost their jobs. And recreation! I hear lynchings enjoyed great popularity in the early thirties. Good thing we all remember those good old days with such fondness and clarity that we can play this game.
A bit of clarity, if you’re thinking that you’re white, and therefore a welcome immigrant, you might need to look a bit harder. Jews? Suspect, and not welcome. Italian? Suspect, and not welcome–all kinds of propaganda being distributed due to the rise of Mussolini. Irish? Also suspect, no-Irish-need-apply. Enjoy your tenements! I mean really, so many of these Italian and Irish immigrants were Catholic. Papists! Frequent and familiar targets of the KKK in those days. It isn’t like we’d see a Catholic President in a mere 30 years.
No worries about Mexicans coming and stealing your job, either. A pox on those who say over a million Mexican immigrants came between 1900-1930 because of a demand for low-wage, unskilled workers when we didn’t have enough citizens to fill those jobs. No worries indeed, we rounded ’em up, beat ’em, and deported ’em back over the border. Damn it, now I’m confusing myself, am I talking about then or now?
More excellent news, you won’t be confronted by your child coming out to you. That closet is padlocked and sealed in concrete. You yourself are a part of the LGBTQ community? Don’t be silly, surely no one who belongs to a community that has been traditionally pilloried, still openly ridiculed, viciously attacked, and subject to hate crimes by many would be playing this game–allying themselves with political parties that want nothing more than to restrict their rights–that would mean they place their bank accounts and guns above their personal rights, to say nothing of the safety and security of their community. Just think, it’s the 1930s, no AIDS. Don’t despair, though, plenty of gonorrhea and syphilis to go around, regardless of your sex or sexual orientation.
Speaking of health and health care, remember, these are the good old days. If you or a loved one get sick or have an accident, you don’t have to think about where your insurance card is, how much the treatment will cost, or if you’re able to cover the copays. Chances are excellent that what you’ve got can’t be treated. And your friendly local doctor will make a house call. If you can pay him.
So, you live life as if it’s the good old days for one month. No cheating–those of us who believe in reason, justice, equality and science will be watching. If you make it through your month without dying from illness or a tragic accident, good on you, you win a bootstrap! If you make it through without starving yourself or family members, losing your home or throwing yourself off of a cliff before Roosevelt can push through one of his commie New Deal roads and bridges, you get a bonus bootstrap. I hear once you collect enough, you can use them to pull yourself up.