As able-bodied refugees flee the city, dragging with them crying small children and frail older people, natural leaders emerge from the ragtag caravans — most of them retired military types and young, troubled people just back from Iraq. They soon realize that the motorized crowds pouring into the desert and heading toward the mountains will turn on one another as they gather at well-known California rest spots, like In-N-Out Burger in San Bernardino. Wherever they gather, they will begin to squabble over resources ranging from bottled water to medicine to coolers jammed with food.
The leaders want to avert chaos, but that means each family must quickly absorb some basic, nonviolent, strategic behaviors so that on their own, they can make intelligent decisions — no matter what kind of situation they are dealt. But how to spoon feed sophisticated coping strategies to a fearful crowd raised on video games and Kid Nation?
The leaders know exactly where to go for the biggest and best supply of all kinds of game boards — Game Empire Pasadena — so, after stocking up, a plan is enacted. It’s quietly decided that every car exiting Los Angeles will be stopped at the city limits, whether along the freeways or on packed surface streets like Whittier and Ventura boulevards, and handed a “goody bag” containing the ancient Persian board game of backgammon. The game, popular with Brits and Europeans, is the oldest known board game, used for centuries by desert kings to hone their strategic minds. It is the single best method for learning to survive using the key basic strategies of relationships, war and life: the race, the backgame and the advanced point game. Yet to the untrained eye, backgammon merely looks like a crazy game of checkers. Sticking it inside a goody bag cleverly stuffed with pointless cosmetics and rhinestone T-shirts guarantees a Pavlovian response by Angelenos: They’ll open up the board game like a Christmas gift, and play.
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