Mephistopheles vs. the Whirlwind

john and milo
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

Last night while playing a board game, “Talisman”, Moomin had a choice between two cards. He had to take one of them to affect his character, The Prophetess.

The first card, Mephistopheles, would have turned his character evil, which had no discernable or immediate effect, though if you land on certain spaces, there are varying consequences depending on character alignment – good, neutral, or evil. The second card, the Whirlwind, would force him to roll a die for each possession; sword, helmet, amulet, magic stuff, and horse. Unless he rolled a 6, that possession would be carried away in a tornado.

There was no question in anyone’s mind that he should choose Mephistopheles, keeping all his stuff and his good chance of winning the game. I knew he would not… He looked around the table like we were insane or joking. “Of course, you know I choose the whirlwind.” Various persuasions were attempted. “Are you crazy? Why would I be evil?!”

So in order to avoid just the name of evil, he risked and lost all his stuff and his advantage in the game. I was proud and a bit awed.

Like a good sport he rolled and kept one item. Some of the others, according to the roll, were discarded or put on the board in the Cursed Glade. He was completely resigned. Luckily next turn he rolled the exact number he needed to land on the Cursed Glade and pick up his things!

Ever since he was quite small he has seemed sometimes frighteningly a person of principles and absolutes and we have joked that he will grow up to chain himself to trees or rescue baby harp seals or something equally idealistic and impractical. It seems a question too of being a person who figures out various unwritten rules (as with language, grammar, or reading skills) and applying them. I’m not always sure what his unwritten rules are, picked up from us or pop culture. But sometimes I see a glimpse and then I think about my own unwritten rules, and places I might not live up to them. What were my unwritten rules, my code of ethics, when I was 7? I can’t remember very well, though at the time, I swore I would.

Such are my thoughts as we go around the board and roll the dice!

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