My entire house is as dark as the inside of a cave far below the earth.
That's right. It's Friday night, and the kids are playing Monster. They've tacked up blankets over every window and duct taped anything that glows. I told them I'd play the second round but for now I have retreated to my office, the one room that is off limits, where the only light I have on is the computer screen. My door is closed, with a towel stuffed under it so that even the light from the computer cannot creep into the playing area.
We've got all boys tonight. Daughter is at college, and Blonde Niece went to the mall. Spouse slipped away to go to the movies with a friend, leaving me to mind the cloud of testosterone. It's the first Monster game of the new school year, and it was a shock to me, as Boy in Black's friends arrived, to realize that these kids I have known for years are all seniors now, with just one more year before they graduate.
For the most part, Boy in Black's friends are like him: smart and serious. They are young men who talk openly about racism and sexism, who are able to rant about the atrocities of the Bush administration in a pretty articulate way. They talk seriously about the possibility of a draft -- they all turn eighteen this year -- and their worries about the future.
They are also funny. The same brightness that puts these high school kids into college courses is used to come up with ways to tease each other and joke about everything imaginable. They insult each other constantly, and the comebacks are quick.
They are young men now, old enough to take a serious look at the state our country is in, and worry about what that means for them. But they are also able to play. While waiting for friends to arrive, they had a battle in the living room with a light sabers, most of them willing to take a dramatic fall to the carpet when With-a-Why flashed his bright red saber.
Right now, I can hear them chasing each other through the house, tripping over stuff in the absolute darkness. I can hear laughter and screaming, all kinds of exclamations as the monster finds his prey. With-a-Why is the hardest to find, because he is so small, and my three boys have a huge advantage in the darkness: they live here and can walk around without seeing.
I love the energy of teenage boys, the older ones including the younger ones in their game, all of them willing to talk seriously to me, all of them willing to be silly and playful. As this round of Monster ends, I am turning off my computer to go join the group and play the next round. I've spent too much time this week reading news that is sad and frightening. I want to play.