Turing Tested, NOT Approved

Dearest Rachel –

The weird thing about this morning’s letter, was that I barely covered the topic I’d originally set out to discuss with you. I kind of got sidetracked by the fact that up until now I hadn’t talked much about certain things you enjoyed, simply because I didn’t really share your enthusiasm for them. Games – and particularly certain card games – were a particular sticking point, because I can actually articulate some of the reasons, irrational though they might be, for disliking some of them.

On the other hand, when we didn’t play to win, but rather, just played to play, we could both (all? I might include Daniel in some instances) enjoy a game perfectly well – although there were times when it still felt like I was playing because you wanted to, and not that I necessarily felt like it. Hey, that’s the give-and-take of a relationship; I just hope my lack of enthusiasm – or sense of obligation – at the time wasn’t too obvious (although I’m afraid it probably was).

While you never got to play with Cafe Chaos, it’s the kind of game you’d probably have gotten a kick out of – although it was a little more complicated than a truly good game ought to be. More to everybody’s liking was Apples to Apples, where we’d match various things against a proposed state of being (or, simplified, the judge would offer an adjective, and the other players would submit nouns to determine what best lined up with said adjective). But if we wanted to get a little risqué (or a lot, really – it was, and I guess is, that kind of game), there was Cards Against Humanity, and its clones.

For all that I’ve kind of depicted you as something of a goody two shoes (especially considering that most of the writings you left behind had to do with your walk with Christ), you were no innocent. Indeed, you could sometimes be very much my partner in crime, giving assent and blessing to certain… baser… tastes of mine. Ah, the joys of married couplehood, where certain things that, in any other circumstances, would be rightfully frowned upon, are considered perfectly fine. Would that we still had them.

In short, throughout the course of our marriage, you developed a bawdy sense of humor nearly equal to my own (and of course, our inside jokes would more than reflect that). Cards Against Humanity aligned well with that sense of humor, as long as you didn’t take the options too seriously.

To be sure, this wasn’t the sort of game we often played at home. For one, it required more than just two or three players to be properly enjoyed; for another, at least one of our friends categorically refused to play it. I’m not sure I should be embarrassed to admit this, but we would tease her for her squeamishness at times. We knew we weren’t about to make her jealous about what we had and she didn’t – far from it, in fact – but her absolute distaste toward anything within that sphere actually kind of mystified us (well, I guess I can only speak for myself, but I think you would agree with me on that).

No, this was the sort of thing for a much larger crowd… like at an anime convention. Given how much you liked to play games, and how popular the game was at these events (one of the best-attended panels were those featuring several of the guests moderating a game, and reading the cards somewhat in character – although the audience had to be reminded not to record anything said in those panels, as they might affect a voice actor’s reputation and thus, livelihood), it was a favorite way to initiate a game. We would set ourselves up in a public area, crack open the box, and start playing. Pretty soon, someone would ask to be dealt in, and another and another until a dozen people were playing, sometimes even with an audience. You were in your element, even more so than when you were hosting the room parties.

As an example (and as a lead-in to the rest of my topic) was a particular topic card reading ‘kid tested, mother approved’

Along with a white card submitted as a potential match. Bear in mind that this is one of the tamer cards that could be matched up against it, I might add. The truly funny ones could be considerably worse.

The phrase was – while taken, as I recall, from an advertising tagline for a certain semi-healthy cereal aimed at the younger demographic – absurd on its face within the context of the game. Almost none of the white cards of this game would describe things, activities or states of mind that would be safe for children, and very few of them would receive approval from their mothers for the to enjoy or participate in. All of which was pretty much the point.

And this brings me around to the past few days, and my current experiences with the dating app (because I haven’t played a round of CAH since at least 2020, and possibly not since the last anime convention prior to the pandemic in 2019, so there’s not a whole lot to talk about on that subject). It sometimes seems that, even though every time I have to sign in and do a ‘captcha’ or two to prove I’m not a robot, some of the people I wind up chatting with might very well fail a Turing test – or at least, they’re not who or what they claim to be.

Just this Saturday, as I kept to myself while Logan was over, and he and Daniel were enjoying their usual binge of anime (along with the new series based on the video game Cuphead, which is a remarkable homage to the old-time animation style of early Warner Brothers or Flescher Studios), I found myself chatting with a couple of ladies, one of whom actually responded to my sign-off (hey, I still can’t keep awake after midnight, honey – some things never change) with a good night of her own, and a looking forward to talking with me the next day… only to completely disappear by the time I was out of the booth a little after noon. The same applied to the other, although I did get a brief glimpse of a notice indicating that they had been removed from the site, and that I was to report to the admins if I had been solicited for money by this individual (if that’s what ‘she’ even was). Clearly, not approved by the site.

Now, forty hours later, I can barely recall what was discussed with either of them; and I can’t look at the chat logs for reference, since they were so abruptly dismissed. Something about one having a ‘passion for humanity,’ whatever that was supposed to mean, and the other having lost a friend and boyfriend simultaneously due to a tale of cheating and betrayal. An interesting story, but one I’ll never know if it was made up.

Not that it matters any more than a handful of cards.

Until next time, honey, wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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