I have written about The Chicken Game before, back on the old blog. I have to admit, that after I hit “post” on that entry, I entertained a secret desire that I would get hundreds of comments from people begging me to mail them a Mr. Pickles immediately. Inexplicably, this did not happen.
But for those of you who either did not read about TCG back in the day or read about it but have forgotten it (I realize this is essentially everyone), I will summarize it for you here.
This is Mr. Pickles.
He is a small yellow chicken. He was known simply as “the chicken” until The Doktah, a class and lab-mate of mine from grad school, christened him. And just so you know, the little one is called “Mr. Pickles brother, Mr. Pickles.”
So to play TCG, what you do is, you take Mr. Pickles and you hide him somewhere. The hiding place should be such that Mr. Pickles is not immediately visible to the chicken recipient, but should be a place the chicken recipient comes across often. In college, popular hiding places among me and my housemates were boxes of cereal
the sugar bowl
and the medicine chest.
When I played TCG with The Doktah, we hid Mr. Pickles in other sorts of places like bags of centrifuge tubes, centrifuge tube racks, and the actual centrifuge. The best lab hiding place of all time was The Doktah’s; she put Mr. Pickles into a centrifuge tube and then properly labeled it as “Mr. Pickles, Feb 5, 2002.” (Centrifuges and centrifuge tubes play an enormous role in the modern biological laboratory in case you didn’t guess.)
I have been known to secrete a Mr. Pickles in people’s coat pockets, purses, and shoes. I often tuck a Mr. Pickles inside the wedding gifts of my fellow Chicken Game players. I leave them behind at people’s homes when I visit. I have also used my friends’ cameras to take surreptitious photos of Mr. Pickles, and I convinced my friend L’s wedding photographer to take a picture of Mr. Pickles at the DJ station. That photo made L’s day when she saw the proofs, weeks later.
Once you start playing The Chicken Game, you will find it difficult to keep quiet while you wait for the chicken recipient to find the chicken, but – and I can’t stress this enough – it is absolutely critical that you do so. You may not, under any circumstances, ask leading questions like, “So, have you had cereal lately? Maybe you should have some now!” The element of surprise is the secret to a successful Chicken Game.
I know what you are all thinking. You are all thinking, “What do you mean, ‘Once you start playing The Chicken Game’? Why would I want to start playing The Chicken Game? It sounds phenomenally stupid.” But here’s the thing: The Chicken Game is awesome. Really! You have no idea how much fun it is to unexpectedly find this little guy
in your cereal bowl. So don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
Why am I bringing this all up now? Well, months ago, Swistle blogged about a book called Bitter With Baggage Seeks Same, and I got all excited. See, my former housemates gave that book to me because when they obviously had to buy it for me when they saw it in the bookstore. And as a sponsor of pay-it-forward contests, Swistle already has a history of getting strangers from the internet to mail things to each other, and Swistle has a vastly larger readership than I do. Thus, I thought to myself, “What if I got Swistle to blog about The Chicken Game, and her readers started to play it, and it became an INTERNET PHENOMENON?” I emailed Swistle immediately. I was a bit overexcited about the whole INTERNET PHENOMENON possibility, and the email therefore included a few more exclamation points than was perhaps wise, so I had to follow up with an email explaining that I am not, in fact, a crazy person. Fortunately, Swistle has been known to get overexcited herself and did not hold my many exclamation points or all caps – did I mention the plethora of all caps? – against me.
So Swistle thought it was a great idea, and together we concocted a plan. I would mail her some chickens. She would play The Chicken Game at home, document it with photos, and then, at a predetermined date, she would write about it and also link to my post about The Chicken Game. And then people all over the world would start playing The Chicken Game in their own homes and it will become an INTERNET PHENOMENON.
Swistle and I discussed how best to exploit the INTERNET PHENOMENON-ability of The Chicken Game, and have decided that the photos of Mr. Pickles are the key. So I will start a Flickr Group for TCG photos once I figure out how that works. But bloggers could also choose to include a photo of Mr. Pickles in their blog posts, or just include Mr. Pickles in a photo of something else, without comment, much like the snail’s daily appearances in Blue’s Clues. (Item: I did not know about the Blue’s Clues snail until Swistle suggested this Chicken Game tactic.)
I should probably mention that the chickens are readily available by the dozen at craft stores in the weeks leading up to Easter. I get mine at Michael’s. And, while the chickens do come in other colors, any color but yellow is unnatural and wrong.
I’d also like to mention here that when Swistle and I were first emailing about this, she asked if we should wait until closer to Easter to post about it so that people would be able to acquire their own Mr. Pickleses, and I said we could not possibly wait that long. And yet, here we are. Lent starts on Wednesday. Procrastinators, unite! We’ll work out the organizational details later.
If all goes well, at some point in the future someone will email me to tell me about the awesome new game they learned about on the internet. And then my life’s work will be complete.