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Hi. This is ‘A Thousand Words’, May 24th, 2019. Welcome to the podcast.
I’m in a very playful mood  today. I hope you are too. Shall we play a game? Do you like games? Do you like games you play on a board, like chess or Scrabble? Do you like games where you need to roll dice , like Monopoly or backgammon? What about card games – poker, Uno, blackjack? Memory games? Guessing games? Drinking games? Those are all fine, fun games. But I don’t want to play any of those with you. I want to play a search game - the classic search game of all time: hide-and-seek.
You know the game, right? When I was a kid, in my neighborhood we called it hide-and-go-seek. It’s the same game, whatever you call it. In German I think it’s pronounced Versteckspiel. My online translator tells me in French it’s cache-cache. In Spanish, el escondite. In Japanese, kakurenbo. In Russian, pryatki. A lot of people seem to play the game all over the world. Maybe it’s even played on other planets.
If you really don’t know it, it’s where one person, the person who is ‘it’, closes his or her eyes and counts to a certain number while all the others run off and hide. After counting, the ‘it’ opens his or her eyes and then tries to find the others. Very simple. This is the game I want to play with you. A mental version. So, I need you not only to listen but to play along with me. I need your full attention. I need you to stop whatever you might be doing so that you can concentrate more on your own imagination than perhaps on the dishes you might be doing right now, or the traffic you might be driving in.
So, let’s play. I’ll be ‘it’. I’m going to close my eyes and count to ten. Ten should give you enough time to find a good place to hide from me. Okay? Are you ready? Oh! Wait! Rules. We need to go over some ground rules . Every game has rules.
Rule one: To find you, all I have to do is see you. I don’t need to run after you and tag you . That’s another game. That’s called tag, not hide-and-seek or hide-and-go-seek. So, if I see you, you’re caught and the game’s over. Clear?
Rule two: You can’t hide in a place you wouldn’t be able to hide in real life. You can’t hop into a coffee cup and hide inside if you can’t hop into a coffee cup in your own real kitchen. You have to follow the rules of physics. Yes? No slipping under  carpets, or transforming into objects, or making yourself temporarily invisible .
Rule three: You have to start from where you are right now. If you’re at home, then you have to start hiding from whichever room you’re in. If you’re on a bus or tram or train, or out walking around or inside at work or in a large shopping mall, then that’s where you have to start from. Good?
Rule four: What’s rule four? Ahh… okay, no rule four. Just the three.
Ok. So, we’re clear on the rules? Good. Then, like Marvin Gaye sang, let’s get it on .
Ready… set… go!
One. Have you started moving yet? Or are you surveying  your surroundings  first? How aware are you of where you are? Are you inside or outside? Are there places right around you that you can easily blend into ? Or do you need to move? And how much can you move? Can you leave the space you’re in, move into a new room or turn a corner ?
Two. Are you alone or are there other people around you? If so, many? What are they doing? Do they look like you? Can you hide among them easily by doing what they’re doing? Are you wearing something that makes you stand out ?
Three. And now? Have you started moving yet? You can’t just stay where you are. I’ll find you as soon as I open my eyes. You have less than ten seconds.
Four. How fast are you moving, if you’re moving? Are you still looking for a place? If you haven’t started moving yet, this would be a fine time to do so. Anywhere. Just start moving… left, right, straight ahead, up, down.
Five. Are you getting nervous? Can’t you find a good spot? Or have you already found one? Is it good enough by itself, or do you need to cover yourself, close yourself off into something like a closet  or a cabinet ? Is there anything you can stand behind? – a tall plant perhaps? Are there places you think I wouldn’t look right away?
Six. Are you trying to put as much distance between us as possible? Remember, even if you’re far away, just a speck  on the horizon, when I open my eyes and see you, you’re caught. And I warn you, though my eyes aren’t what they used to be , I just bought a new pair of glasses.
Seven. If you haven’t found a spot yet, why not? It doesn’t have to be perfect. Are you a perfectionist? What kind of place are you looking for? Remember, you have to make do with  your surroundings. No magic!
Eight. You still have a few more seconds. If you’ve already settled somewhere , is it a clever place? You still have time to improve on it . You can still make changes. You can still move somewhere else.
Nine. By now, you should probably be hidden and not moving, and quiet as a… as a what? Not a mouse. What’s even quieter than a mouse? Lots of things. A mushroom, for example. Quieter than a mushroom.
Nine-and-a-half. Is your heart beating fast? Are you worried I’ll hear it and it will give you away ? I have pretty good ears. Try to be quiet.
Nine-and-three-quarters. Are you wearing any special scent ? Is your deodorant particularly strong? Did you use a lot of washing powder on your clothes? Do you smell of cigarette smoke or the food you’ve recently  eaten? I might find you because of your smell.
Ready or not, here I come!
It’s funny, the desire  to hide from someone you know. The pleasure of choosing where to keep from  being found. And the excitement of knowing that you’re being looked for. I think that might be the fundamental pleasure, why there are so many words in so many languages to describe the same simple game. You don’t want to stay hidden forever. You want to be found. You want the person who’s looking for you ultimately to find you. I mean, what’s the fun of staying hidden forever? If you make it too hard on the person who’s looking, eventually they give up and stop looking. And then you’re really lost.
Oh! There you are! Found you! Nice try. I almost didn’t see you there.
Thanks for listening, and playing. If you like, you can always write a message and explain where you hid… to make sure I really did find you.
If you liked this podcast, or others you’ve listened to on our website podclub.ch, tell a friend. You can also write us a message. You can even download our app if you’d like, and we have a vocabulary trainer to help you practice some of the new words you hear.
I’ll be back on June 7th with a story about a Chinese herbalist in San Francisco.