Monday, April 26, 2010

A Game the Self-Critical Can Play

It’s important to be self-critical. It’s a worry my wife has about the always-positive-reinforcement give-everyone-a-trophy modern don’t-let-anyone-feel-neglected world. How do you know if you’re any good, she says?

Well, my parents would sure go along with that. They were proud of me and the other kids, very proud. But tell us? Don’t want to do that. Might cut down on effort. So I was raised to be self-critical. Was it enough? Was it any good? Would you be able to keep it up for next time when “the others let down.” How would someone not inclined to favor you look at it? (The old Jewish problem, you have to be better to succeed.)

That’s not such a bad thing if you’re going to do something worthwhile. For instance, I haven't posted lately because as I write something, it just doesn't seem up to snuff. I hope you all appreciate that. So that's the good part. But, the bad part is that relentless self-criticism can make for depression, tension, anxiety. That’s a high price.

There are many ways to deal with this family legacy. Some are expensive. But I am here to recommend one I have come up with for your evening pleasure. Jeopardy, the old Merv Griffin stable. Jeopardy. ABC, Channel 7 at 7 PM every night. In Hawaii it’s on at 4 PM, with a rerun of an older game at 4:30. Jeopardy, not running as frequently as Law and Order, but enough for a near daily dose, if you want.

But not standard Jeopardy. Standard Jeopardy is tough. In standard Jeopardy you have to be careful. Are you sure you know the answer? How sure do you have to be to ring in? If you’re wrong, it’ll cost you with deducted cash. But you have to act fast, with instant calculations. Standard Jeopardy is nerve racking.

Instead, I play Budd-Jeopardy. Budd-Jeopardy is refreshing. Budd-Jeopardy releases you from the worry throughout the game. You don't have to wonder if your account is going up or going down. Budd-Jeopardy only goes up, never down. It’s an upper!

What is Budd-Jeopardy? It is non-critical Jeopardy. In Budd-Jeopardy, there are no deductions. You get a point only when you know the answer, and no one else on the panel on the show does. If you get it and they don’t, you get to shout, “Budd!!” Or, if your name is not Budd, you get to shout your own name, let's be clear. Maybe I should insist that it's always "Budd!" you shout, but I doubt this rule would catch on, so you can use your own name. If it is a Daily Double question, and thus only one panel member gets to guess, and you get it and he or she doesn’t, you still get a “Budd!” If you are playing with someone else in the room, and you both get it, you both get a score, and you both get to shout your names.

Budd-Jeopardy gives you only positives! For every answer you can guess the question. If you’re wrong, no problem! You can be self-critical if you want, and of course I can’t help it. I should have gotten that! I knew that! I just couldn’t pull that one out, but I did know it! The full boat of disappointments can be uttered.

But, that’s only an undercurrent. Budd-Jeopardy is an upper. You’re only adding up the pluses. In Budd-Jeopardy, par for a game is two “Budd’s!” The best I’ve ever done is about six, I think. Sometimes it’s only a one, or very occasionally zero.

Budd-Jeopardy is the opposite of golf. Why would you play a game set up for frustration?

Try Budd-Jeopardy instead! You can use your own name, but be sure to shout it in triumph. At least twice a game. It helps to throw your arms up over your head, and to look around for admiration. Or, if you’re alone – and if you do this too much you might well find yourself alone – be sure to admire yourself. You deserve it.

OK, I confessed that I have hit a little dry patch for my posting, and this might not be up to par. OK. I agree. But if I get a bunch of complaints, I'll just erase it. I can't worry about the misses; let's only count the hits. One of these days, I'll get another "Budd!" Maybe tomorrow.

Budd Shenkin

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