Larry Brody: Live! From Paradise! #183 – “Playing the Game”

THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.

In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.

Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.

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by Larry Brody

People often ask about the special bond Gwen the Beautiful and I have. What is it? Where did it come from? How did we know?

All I can say is that for my part I’ve felt linked to my wife from the moment I saw her. But I didn’t realize she felt the same way until our first home-seeking expedition to the Ozarks, years ago. We’d been driving all day and, exhausted, we stopped at a Fayetteville motel shortly before sundown.

Just as we collapsed onto one of the queen-sized beds in our room I remembered that I’d left my laptop in the truck. I forced myself up and out, and as I trudged to our parking space I noticed that the building next door was only half built. Just a skeleton surrounded by supplies and garbage, with a couple of port-a-potties close by.

The only people in sight were two workmen. One glanced my way and then pointed me out to his buddy, saying something I couldn’t hear.

The buddy looked over at me. “Looks like a player,” he said. “He’s an asshole.”

“How do you know?” said the first workman.

‘All the players are assholes.” The second workman started around to the other side of the building, motioning for the first one to follow. “Don’t pay any attention to him. You’ll just get screwed up.”

When I got back into our room I told Gwen what’d happened.

“If I’m a player, then what’s the game?” I said. “Is it this trip?” I got another idea: “Or this life?”

Gwen’s eyes sparkled. “Of course! Wouldn’t it be terrific if all those people who write about ‘The Game of Life’ were writing about something real, even though they didn’t know it?”

She was getting right into it and taking me further along. “I’m looking at things from a different angle,” I said. “The construction worker said I was a player. Like he and his partner weren’t. If they’re not players, then what are they, NPCs? And what about you? Are you a player too?”

“I’d better be,” Gwen said. “Anything you’re in, I’m in. We’re a team.”

The next morning, when we went out to the parking lot to continue our quest, I pointed to the building under construction—

And realized it wasn’t under construction at all.

It was finished.

A big chain restaurant, with a “Grand Opening” banner over the entrance.

Gwen didn’t bat an eye. “Looks like the game advanced a bit in the night.”

“Like a computer game,” I said. “Fast-forwarding to get to—what? A part with more action?”

Gwen slid up against the door. “This better not mean a car’s going to come speeding around the motel and crash into us!” Her voice sounded shaky.

“If you’re a Non-Playing Character you might be safe. Just a bystander,” I said. “But if we’re both players—“

“Players die,” said Gwen.

“No! I won’t let that happen.”

Quickly, I opened the door and practically shoved her into the cab of the truck. I tossed our suitcase into the back and took my place at the wheel. Squealed away before any other vehicle could appear and hit us.

I drove into the parking lot of the new restaurant. Circled around it.

“Definitely finished and open for business,” I said.

“Normally, I love when we’re right,” said Gwen. But now….”

My body felt all shaky. “What do you think?” I asked her.

“I think we should get out of here,” said Gwen. “But I also think we shouldn’t. Like we lose something if we do.”

“Points?” I said. “Or maybe we lose a turn. And you know how I hate to lose anything.”

Gwen thought. “Want to take our turn by having have breakfast here?”

Someone was coming out the door. The second workman from last night. I turned to Gwen. “Not the right strategy.”

“Then let’s hit the road. First one to spot our dream house gets a kiss!”

I still don’t know what really happened that night and day. Or if my wife believed me. Was she just playing along?

For that matter, I’m not even sure she’s believed in the reality of any of the weirdness we’ve encountered since that time.

But I do know one thing for certain.

Regardless of whether or not life’s a game and the two of us are players, every passing day has been proof of what Gwen showed me back in Fayetteville.

We’re a team.

Author: LB

A legendary figure in the television writing and production world with a career going back to the late ’60s, Larry Brody has written and produced hundreds of hours of American and worldwide television and is a consultant to production companies and networks in the U.S. and abroad . Shows written or produced by Brody have won several awards including - yes, it's true - Emmys, Writers Guild Awards, and the Humanitas Award.

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