Back in the spring, Miguel and I came up with a game we would play on the subways and during walks around the city. It was an off-shoot of a game we play in the park called, simply, Superheroes and Bad Guys. In Superheroes and Bad Guys Miguel plays all the Superheroes and I play all the Bad Guys and we pretend to fight each other (everything has to be mimed, Miguel gets hollered at if he gets overzealous and tries to land some of his punches in my stomach). The script is mostly the same, he's the Transforming Good Guy who can turn into any other Good Guy and I'm the Transforming Bad Guy who can turn into any other bad guy. Usually we pretend to hurl different attacks at each other while attempting to climb to the top of the biggest slide available.
Miguel wanted to play Superheroes and Bad Guys when we were not at the park, but i couldn't take the swinging of his arms as he tried to hit me with "purple lightning" or a "thousand poison dagger attack!" when we had to weave in and out of pedestrians. I'm a fan of imaginative play, and needed to find a happy compromise. Eventually we came up with a role-playing game in which we only TALKED about what we were doing but we didn't actually act it out. It was our own sort of radio play. We called it Cops and Ninjas. The initial conceit of why we weren't physicalizing anything was that all the characters were talking to each other over walkie talkie. It was a cast that included Officer Cuffs, Major Fury, Commander Courage and Sam Rye as they led the armed forces in an effort to destroy the monstrous forces of Hiroshi Maru and Shredder, who were threatening to take over the world. As in Superheroes and Bad Guys, Miguel plays the good people and I voice the villains. We played this for weeks anytime we walked anywhere or were taking the subway. The forces of good would race around the world to destroy some monster, only to have a new one pop up some place else. Eventually Miguel decided this storyline was over and started us into the sequel Cops and Ninjas 2 As with most sequels, everything needed to be bigger and more frenzied and have more characters in crazier circumstances. I enjoyed his enthusiasm and the game was fine and I ran with it.
Fast forward five months, and I am pretty much going out of my mind. We are currently playing Cops and Ninjas NINE and there is NO indication Miguel is getting tired of playing this game. At this point the game has dozens if not hundreds of characters that span several UNIVERSES with different royal families that rule over different planets. Every time we play, Miguel insists we each create two more characters. We have such interesting characters as Gunosaurus Rex, Triceratiger, Millimantis, Centisaur, MilliSpider, The Shredds Family, Goldenbeam, Landquake, Starsmasher, Vortex, Infernape, Ground Stalker, Lilyfern, Spikehead, The Goblin Army, Sam-Rah, M-Slash, Cryptogram, Tiger-Hulk, Gravibear - the list goes on and on. Miguel remembers all of them and how they are all related. For instance today I referred to GoldenBeam as Landquake's girlfriend and Miguel corrected me that they were married and in fact Vortex was their son. We hadn't used these characters in the story in weeks, but he was right, that's where we had left them.
Now, the problem is not that I dislike the game, it's just that my imagination is MAXED OUT. I cannot keep making this crazy story up at this breakneck pace! It's really exhausting! There are times when I literally fall asleep mid-conversation with him on the subway because I can't keep up anymore. No matter what. Miguel is adamant we keep playing. I've taken to limiting the amount of time we can play in one afternoon. West of Broadway and south of 72nd street is a no-play zone (too much traffic). We don't play indoors (too loud and disruptive to others) we don't play on the subway if it's too crowded. To combat these restrictions Miguel "saves the game" as we walk into a building, usually by saying, "saving! saving!" as if his brain is a Nintendo DS (maybe it is). His new thing is also to give previews, saying "next time, on Cops and Ninjas Nine!" and then talking through different conversations he wants the characters to have once we play again. It's totally endearing but it just shows his obsession with Cops and Ninjas is only growing!
I don't know what to do with myself. For now I will continue to play along, hoping something better will pull his attention, Until then, I'm resigned to keep going. Cops and Ninjas 10! Cops and Ninjas 11! Pray for me. Can I really take much more of this? I need to imagine different things. I was away from Miguel for about a week and half due to vacation, and as soon as I saw him again, his second question to me (after a hug and an immediate request for food) was that we play Cops and Ninjas. There's just no letting up. I'm really gonna have to dig deeper and find new degrees of creativity and patience. Because the story continues to be continued...