photo-3We played outside a lot when I was a kid. The best games seemed to involve the entire neighborhood.

I remember once when we started out trying to play Capture the Flag, but none of us really knew how to play that. We started with two teams, and each team had an object belonging to the opposite team. The objects were hidden, and then we all ran around like crazy giving one another hints and clues as to the hiding places. It turned into a crazy game of espionage, and some kids even partnered up to give elaborate and false clues. You never knew who was giving you a truthful hint and who was sending you on a wild goose chase, especially since the teams changed as kids got called to dinner, and as other kids returned from grandparents’ houses to join in late. Some kids switched teams outright to be better allied with their friends. Many who joined late in the game had no idea where the original objects were even hidden, yet clues, lures, and traps—the plots and subplots–were rampant.

Because we didn’t want to stop playing, the game kept evolving. You had to stay on your toes, weigh everything you were told and its source, and keep rolling with the constant changes.

We called the game “Life in Times Square.” None of us had ever been to Times Square at that point, but we imagined it to be a place where you had to always be alert. It was exhilarating; exercising skills we didn’t know we even had.

It was the greatest game we ever played.

My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon. I’m working on the second.