Playing The Game Of (Married) Life For 35 Years

by Emily Kemme
the game of married life

I’ll go ahead and admit it from the get go: I am a bit of a prude. The realization hit me after seeing — for probably the tenth time — a bridal shower banner on Instagram declaring: SAME [MALE APPENDAGE] FOREVER. The wording made me cringe a little. Ever curious, I Googled it and clicked on the Amazon site link (because they are the biggest, so obviously their banner would be the best), and discovered the banner is In Stock. Unfortunately, beneath that in red it stated “This item does not ship to your selected location.”

Given that whatever I search for on Amazon shows up within five minutes on the next website I go to, I am aware that Amazon is all-knowing about my life. It will not ship a SAME [MALE APPENDAGE] FOREVER gold foil banner to my home for one reason, and one reason only:

I have been playing the game of married life for 35 years.

Therefore, Amazon doesn’t think I need to buy a gold foil reminder.

I haven’t been playing the game alone. Dr. K has helped out. But when we were in the process of becoming a married couple back in 1983, there weren’t any male appendage banners available for purchase on the internet. I hate to date myself so drastically, but there wasn’t an internet either.

But relax — there was one of “those” bakeries that baked “those” kind of cakes (the pink ones, that were, um, shaped in the shape of a, um, male appendage). So maybe we sort of knew what we were getting ourselves into on that torrentially rainy day on the last Saturday in May, 1983.

the game of married life

Nearly 35 years ago we decided to commit to each other. The journey hasn’t been all hearts-and-flowers, but not a bad one, either.

And yet, here I sit typing and wondering whether I missed out on a gold foil guarantee that my marriage would last. If I’d had the gold foil banner, I could have placed it in the box with my wedding dress — if I could remember where that box is. But more importantly, if I had a gold foil banner would that make my life more complete?

In the spirit of self-evaluation, I pulled out the box containing The Game of Life.

And discovered it wasn’t the same Game of Life I remembered when I was a kid. Somehow, we’d acquired the new version. That happens a lot at our house, these boxes imprinted with the Mona Lisa Amazon smile mysteriously show up on a near daily basis. I suspect it has something to do with Dr. K’s trigger finger “order” affliction.

The new version of The Game of Life is much more interesting than the 1960s version I grew up with, which tended to focus on number of children, whether you had life insurance, a college education, and could safely land in Millionaire Acres. Since then, players can also receive awards for what one of my acquaintances terms, “do-goodery” — basically the likes of recycling trash and helping the homeless. There are a lot more life activities that are possible in the Millennial version. Inflation had blown up the prize money, too.

the game of married life

After 35 years of marriage, I decided it was a good idea to see where we were on the road.

So I took stock of the last 35 years.

1. Adopt a pet: This was one of the cards players could draw, instead of the special “Life Tiles” with achievements and corresponding prize money. Adopting pets doesn’t pay out prize money, but we have learned through adoption of one mutt named Molly, the purchase of four collies (in batches of two), and an array of short-lasting cats that pet ownership comes with a guaranteed payout for years in vet bills. We’ve also vicariously added a hedgehog (daughter’s) and a Shiba Inu (son and daughter-in-law’s) to the family, but don’t have to pay for them. There is something to be said for grand-pets.

2. Save Endangered Species ($200,000): Thanks to Step 1, above, we were acclimated to wild animals living in our home. This made  giving birth to two human animals a little easier. Between the two, there were enough experiences to designate them as Endangered Species, detailed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as:

  • the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
    • flashing cherry lights in the driveway at midnight (check)
  • overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
    • payment  and support during pursuit of education, both rudimentary and advanced, for a combined 37 years and counting (check)
  • disease or predation;
    • earned title of Lemon Jello Shot Queen (check)
  • the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    • senior proms gone awry (check)
  • other natural or manmade factors affecting its survival.
    • visits to the ER due to jumping off roofs, skiing, pole vaulting, bicycling, tennis, running, and driving our cars (check all that apply)

They were taken off the Endangered List by feeding them pizza, my roast beef sandwiches, and above all, Alberto’s breakfast burritos.

3. Discover New Planet ($100,000): We’ve been trying to find a new planet, but despite 12 moves, purchasing (and remodeling) five houses, and making cross country treks to kids in college and grad school, it is as yet undiscovered. However, I believe the aforementioned activity should count towards those efforts.

4. Become President ($250,000): It doesn’t say “become President” of what. Dr. K and I have managed to be elected to the presidency of too many non-profit organizations to count, all of which was volunteer time. Therefore, I think the prize money is due. We’ll happily deposit it in our joint bank account, but I get to spend my three-quarters of the proceeds.

5. Design New Computer ($100,000): An acknowledgment of failure here — Dr. K does have a mistress — her name is Apple. Over the years, he has rebuilt dozens of computers, one of which was the “Blueberry” flavored iMac G3 which he attempted to turn into an aquarium. It either leaked or the fish died, I can’t remember which, but it wasn’t a moneymaker. I think at least three times the prize money is due from Apple as compensation for discovering their computers leak.

the game of married life

Dr. K has invented dozens of computers, the most creative being an aquari-puter. Unfortunately, Apple didn’t consider this possibility and make its iMac G3 watertight.

6. Write Great American Novel ($150,000): I’ve written two novels, and a handful of people think they’re really great, so does that count?

7. Pulitzer Prize ($100,000): This has not happened yet, but with the third novel in the works — at least in my head — and a children’s picture book collaboration with my daughter-in-law, I’m not giving up hope yet.

8. Cure the Common Cold ($200,000): Ever since graduating from medical school in 1987, Dr K keeps trying to cure people. Along the way the old adage to feed people chicken soup has crept into his skills. He doesn’t actually cook the soup, but is great at dismembering and grilling chickens. This includes exploratory ventures into spatchcocking, a rotisserie, and chicken sous vide. Carcasses are carefully stored in the freezer in ziplock baggies so “someone” can make chicken soup.

9. Find New Energy Source ($200,000): Don’t ever let anyone tell you that naps are overrated.

10. Invent New Sport ($50,000): Juggling work, children, five people’s schedules, dogs with epilepsy, and extended family while walking forward with your eyes closed. Oh — wait, that sport has already been invented. It’s called The Game of Life.

I returned to the Amazon site and once more pondered the purchase of the gold foil banner. After spending all this time taking stock, I think I’m much too tired to hit the “order now” button. I think I’ll take a nap instead.

Subscribe to get the latest recipes and stories from Feeding the Famished!

Related Articles


Lauren Hyde May 15, 2018 - 10:50 am

If you had more than 4 kids, did you have to pile up the extras in the middle of your plastic car?

Emily Kemme May 15, 2018 - 10:50 am

You have to upgrade and buy the Chevy Suburban issue. But the good news it comes equipped with a boat hitch — for free! *no boat included.

Barb Slobojan May 14, 2018 - 6:57 pm

If you two have been married for that longg, we must be OLD!

Emily Kemme May 14, 2018 - 6:58 pm

Nah, we were just really, really young!

Michelle Medina Jones May 12, 2018 - 10:16 am

Happy Anniversary, Sister! And Happy Mother’s Day!

Emily Kemme May 12, 2018 - 10:17 am

Same to you!

Ty Tobin May 12, 2018 - 10:15 am

Nice concept. I’ll have to inventory our “tiles”.

Emily Kemme May 12, 2018 - 10:17 am

Let me know what yours tell you.

Lu Soto Mahan May 12, 2018 - 10:14 am

Love this! Happy Mother’s Day!

Emily Kemme May 12, 2018 - 10:16 am

Thanks! Happy Mother’s Day to you, too!

Lynette Wassemiller May 11, 2018 - 8:02 pm

Once again I have enjoyed your thoughts. I seem to agree with a high each time and find myself smiling.
If your structured life is free for a couple hours next Tuesday, come meet the girls at the Greeley Mall Cinemark for “Life of the Party” with Melissa McCarthy at 12:20 p.m. or, the following Tuesday for “The Book Club”. Hugs

Emily Kemme May 12, 2018 - 10:03 am

I would love to join you on Tuesday … but that’s my ironing afternoon. If I don’t have structure, entropy ensues.

Lynne Hugo May 14, 2018 - 12:12 pm

What’s an iron?
More importantly, I love this one! Thanks for a fun article. I can relate, for sure.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.