In high school we always used to play games in Lucy’s basement during the weekends. It was always Lucy, Tom, Samantha, Mark, and me. Lucy’s dad had turned the basement into his “man cave”, with a pool table, darts, and a pinball machine. He used to hang there with his guy friends doing guys’ stuff, and Lucy knew where he hid the liquor.He used to go out of town during the weekends for company seminars. We didn’t know what that meant back then, but he was away and we could go there and drink, and that’s what mattered.

Spin the bottle was how it started, but soon we realized you can’t play that game with the same people more than twice. We moved to ‘never have I ever’, and then poker, and at some point Tom suggested strip poker. It was pretty obvious to everyone he just wanted to see Lucy naked, but the girls didn’t think its was such a hot idea. And then we started making up our own games, but I have forgotten the rules. Spin the bottle remains my favorite cause that’s how me and Sam got started. We kissed a few times and then we started going out and kissing without a bottle.

Last night was our class’  25 year reunion. We all met each other again and exchanged the standard ‘How is everything with you? What’s new?’. After a while it felt like the band was back together, and it didn’t come as a surprise to anyone when Tom suggested strip poker again. We all laughed but I could sense that everyone wanted to go to our basement and play games. And then Lucy suggested a new game.

We left the party early, got into Lucy’s car and she drove us to her parents’ place. Lucy is a literature professor now. She told us that years ago she had read a book by this German guy, and it’s about the ultimate game. It’s called ‘the glass bead game’, and it’s supposed to work based on the entire spectrum of human knowledge, like medicine and art and architecture etc. The book never specified how the game is played, no mention of any rules. So Lucy had spent like months coming up with this complicated set of rules on her own. She started reading books on everything that humans got good at.

We sat down on the floor in Lucy’s basement and she took out a bottle of wine, and a small velvet bag. As the bottle went around, she opened the bag and emptied it on the floor. There must’ve been about two dozen marbles in many different colors. I tried to keep up with the rules, but I was just too happy to be in that basement again. Every color represented a certain sphere of knowledge (“No pun intended,” says Lucy) and depending on how they clash together and how is throwing the beads and what not, a sort of debate is supposed to start between the two players.

It really did feel like old times, though Sam didn’t look at me the way she used to. Everyone was asking Lucy about the complicated rules, and I thought the game was a great idea. We didn’t spend the time talking about how we missed each other and how we should get together more often. It never got depressing. It was like high school, but better, even if only for a little while.