January 6, 2012

January 6, 2012

Pastimes of Auld Lang Syne, Day 4: Choose Your Own Adventure

The open of a new year is a good time to look forward at all you hope to accomplish during the next 365 days. Unfortunately, since the world is ending this year, there’s not a lot to look forward to. So I’ve decided to look back instead, writing about various phenomena I pursued as a youth. They say your life flashes before your eyes when you die. This is sorta like that.

I’m not sure where or when I was introduced to the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books. They were ubiquitous at my public schools, so it was probably there that I first learned to make decisions like:

To take the elevator to the roof, turn to page 43.
To wait in the lobby for your guide, turn to page 119.

And you obviously chose the elevator, because a) there was a rocket on the roof and b) choices that far towards the end of the book almost always mean death.

(Yes, Virginia, there IS a strategy.)

We all know these books, right? A crazy scenario (you’re on the moon, you’re under the sea, you’re microscopic) whose plot is propelled by the choices you make. Some plotlines have a happy ending, some have a sad ending, and some send you flipping back and forth between the same two pages for all eternity because you’ve fallen into a wormhole or something.

Real life turned out to be a disappointment after all that excitement. Let’s be honest.

Even as a child, I was impatient and enamored of office supplies, so I had a bookmarking system for these books. Every time I came to a choice, I would mark the page with a Post-It. Once my current path reached an end, I’d go back to the first decision point, remove the Post-It, and follow the other choice. Through this process of elimination, I’d ensure that I followed every possible path in the most efficient way possible. Take THAT, Microsoft Project. Someone hand me a PMP certification, for real.

(Plus, if reincarnation turns out to allow for a similar system, I AM GOLDEN.)

They stopped making these books in 1998. A shame, though they certainly wouldn’t do as well in today’s digital age. When I was your age, the only virtual worlds we had were in our heads. No Facebook, or Farmville, or Words with Friends.* We used our imaginations, darnit, and we liked it!

* I’m medevam on Words with Friends. We should totally play a game.

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