Monday, September 19, 2016

Why I play "this or that"

Anyone who spends any amount of time with my family will find an interesting dynamic among us. My mom and I will debate random things (probably only half listening to the other at times), my mom and siblings will talk easily about things of no consequence and argue about things that matter (finding out "what happened at school today" is like pulling teeth but my sister will talk endlessly about her friends and teachers), my sister and I talk about a variety of things (from boys and fashion to the odd theological or political discussion), my siblings either bicker or help each other with homework, and my brother and I play a game, specifically, "This or That". Now, this is not to say that we do not also have normal familial conversations about dinner, work, school, and general interests, but the bulk of each individuals' conversation with the others follows these patterns. Most all of us interact like a normal family would (I assume) but my brother and I with our game.

See, my brother is shy and doesn't always like to talk about things like his feelings, likes, or dislikes. What he does like is television (and is beginning to like a few specific books in specific genres). Now, because he is shy, when he was younger much of his communication came by way of "20 questions", where he made short answers and offered no information otherwise. One day recently I decided to change the game a bit. After dragging out information about him, I began to ask about his likes or dislikes by way of television shows, characters, or actors always phrased as such, "do you like ____ or ____?" and he would answer. At first the answers were as short as the 20-question answers, but over time, they became longer and more thought out. Eventually, he became the one positing questions and his shyness and reticence at home began to diminish. Here is what an average game of "This or That" looks like (when he directs it):

Brother: Do you prefer Charlie as FBI or Anya and Andrew in the bathroom in Buffy?
Me: Anya and Andrew
Brother: Root shooting 2 guns or Shaw in "Razgover"?
Me: Shaw.
Brother: Who would win, Shaw or Illyria?
Me: Illyria.
Brother: Amy Acker or Misha Collins?
Me: Amy Acker.
Brother: Fred or Root?
Me: Both.
Brother: Why?
Me: Because they are such different characters that show the range of Amy's acting and I can't choose between them.
Brother: Okay. Charlie or Anya?
Me: Anya. Clara's death or Donna forgetting everything?
Brother: Clara's death.
Me: Why?
Brother: Because Donna forgetting everything was so much sadder because she did such wonderful stuff and she forgot it all.
Me: Who's your favorite Doctor?
Brother: David Tennant. 
(As you can tell he loves Joss Whedon and Whedon characters and science fiction as much as I do. The game has also included various tv couples, buzzfeed videos and people, the Daily Show, Colbert, Last Week Tonight, and Cat pictures vs people/tv characters. Although admittedly, the majority of the game is played by comparing various Amy Acker/Felicia Day/Misha Collins/David Tennant characters or scenes because he knows that it is hard for me to choose between them.)

Now, as opposed to before the game began, our interactions have become (for the most part) more interactive and positive. Because we play our game (which is often spitfire and stream of thought), our interactions have become more positive, frequent, and are slowly becoming more expressive and expansive. The game began with single word answers and long awkward pauses and now involves quick questions intermixed with descriptions and discussions. When asked, my brother said that the game helps him know himself and other people's emotions and thought processes (Awesomeness!).

The moral of this post: My brother and I are weird and have a constant game of this or that going that can last for hours, beginning and ending on a whim. Be weird. Do what works for you. Do what helps your family. Have fun. Never conform to societal expectations unless you have to.

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