The Games People Play

By Gail Bobrowitz | July 9th, 2024

Lessons learned over the decades

A little girl having a tea party with her doll and teddy bear. An essayist discusses childhood games, then the games people play as adults.

From the fun of childhood to the deceptions of some adults, Boomer reader Gail Bobrowitz has changed her perceptions of the games people play.

As a little girl, I never had a lack of toys. I quickly got bored with most of them. I could live in my world of imagination for just so long. I wanted the company of other kids to play with me, and if that was not possible, I wanted the adults around me to play!

As I grew, the toys, were replaced by games. There was interaction with others, and I reveled in it. Of course, the solitude of putting together a puzzle or reading a book would always have a place in my life, and the excitement of playing a game with others became necessary. I felt that my life revolved around three things: family, quiet private time, and playing games! School, which, of course, occupied a majority of my time, was the biggest game of all!

The purpose of games isn’t just winning. It’s the interaction with others, the strategy of playing and the concept of chance. A throw of the dice, a pick of a card, a devious move of a competitor.

Luck, skill, and patience became my game face. I love to play. I realized, though, not all at once but in stages throughout my life, that life itself is a game – sometimes an innocent one, sometimes a devious trap.

It’s all in the game and the way people play.

In 1968, a song was released. It had meaning for me then, and its meaning has increased for me since. The song was called “The Games People Play.” I only know the first stanza, but that’s all I need.

“Oh, the games people play now,
Every night and every day now,
Never meaning what they say now,
Never saying what they mean.”

Wow, never meaning what you say? Does that mean that everyone lies?

Do you say only what will help you achieve a goal, a win? Is winning the most important thing? Suddenly, it made me aware that I couldn’t trust anything anyone said. Everyone has an ulterior motive. Everyone is out for a win. Most, don’t realize it. I saw that I was no different than anyone else. No better! I lied. It was just easier than really saying what was on your mind. Give everyone what they want to hear. Sometimes it came back to bite me in the ass. Telling two different things to two different people. Most of the time, it was easy to cover up. It wasn’t that I intended to lie. People just wanted to hear what they wanted to hear! They weren’t interested in my opinion. It became abundantly clear in an incident a few years back, when someone I cared about told me my opinion didn’t count!

I was devastated because I thought my opinion was important to this person. Since I had already expressed myself, I could not take it back, nor did I want to. I simply stopped talking to them, and it’s been years since.

I try to only play games when there is a game to play! I try to say what I mean. I am eternally optimistic that those closest to me do the same. I just hope they can express their honesty cloaked in kindness. There are too many games, too much interest in winning, too much!

After a 30-year career in education, Gail Bobrowitz and her husband, David, retired and left New York to settle in Virginia. When Covid hit, she substituted writing to combat the isolation and inactivity. Now she has six novels, one novella, and several short stories. She has no plan of stopping!

Read more childhood memories and other contributions from Boomer readers in our From the Reader department.

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