Don’t Ask Me What Zombies Have to Do With It. I Have No Idea.

Try shuffling this deck.
Good luck shuffling this.

A recent study suggests that disorganized people are more creative than organized people.

In other words, I am the least creative person in my house.

My seven-year-old son is at the top of the creative heap. He achieves this by creating creative heaps all around his room. His invented games are, I admit, ingenious. Sadly, they also require hundreds of parts from dozens of different sources.

Rocks? Check.

Marbles? Check.

Individual Legos, handpicked from different sets? Check.

Every refrigerator magnet in the house? Check.

The battleships from Battleship? Check.

Broken toys – including that whoopee cushion with a hole in it that his dad told him to throw out last year? Seriously, boy, what’s the point of a whoopee cushion that can’t make any noise? Check!

It should come as little surprise that my son and I also have very different interpretations of the word “straighten,” as in, “Straighten your room.”

My “straighten” is defined as, “Put every single solitary thing away forever.” His definition is, “Consolidate the six or eight smallish piles of stuff into one, four-foot-tall pile of stuff. Then shove that pile of stuff into the mathematical center of the room.”

But, hey, the boy is creative. One day, Alex noticed that war (the card game, that is) was an excruciating bore. Many, many years ago, when I made this same discovery, I abandoned war forever and did something tidy. Alex is cut from a different cloth, however; he decided to take a crack at improving the game. He searched the house for every deck of cards we have and became the sole inventor of Nine-Deck Zombie Super War 4000.  To play, you need five decks of regular playing cards, two Uno decks (one being a dog-eared deck from the early1980s and the other a contemporary waterproof deck that you can play in the tub) a deck of war cards featuring characters from the movie Cars, and The Mad Magazine Card Game.

The rules and scoring system are, I think, a bit too involved, complicated, and convoluted to mention here (think 43-Man Squamish). I will say, however, that it takes about 15 minutes to purge all of the decks of the unnecessary cards and nearly another ten minutes to shuffle the massive, irregular deck that remains. Once you’re done playing the game, it takes another 15 minutes to put all the cards back where they belong.

The actual game takes about maybe four minutes.

But I am surprised to say that I don’t mind any of this, really. Nine-Deck Zombie Super War 4000 caters to our strengths: Alex gets to stimulate his creative instincts by making up rules and creating random piles of cards, and I get to sate my OCD urges by sorting the cards into rigid, properly sanctioned piles.

And of course there is that Father And Son Thing. I love that Father And Son Thing.

Once the game is over, Alex will help put the cards back in their proper piles without complaint, but mostly he keeps me company while I take on the lion’s share of the work. Straightening up is what I do best, after all. And organizing things while chatting with my boy puts me in the happiest of my happy moods.

Sometimes while we peek under the couch for stray cards, we even kick around a few picture book story ideas. Because, well, according to documented research, I need all the help I can get.

Alfred E

67 Replies to “Don’t Ask Me What Zombies Have to Do With It. I Have No Idea.”

  1. Well, by this reckoning (and according to my desk top, office, kitchen counter, the floor near my computer, my car, etc.) I should be the most creative person on earth! I think I need a few rounds of Nine-Deck Super Zombie War 4000 to fuel the creative spirit 🙂 So nice that you and your son can have such fun together 🙂

  2. This makes me smile, “And of course there is that Father And Son Thing. I love that Father And Son Thing.”
    This is a whole new look at creative for me. I must be creative because my workstation–my 8-ft. dining-room table is littered with…littered. 🙂

  3. I love that the game only takes 4 minutes.

    What? Alex hasn’t figured out how to hide his toys under the bed yet?

  4. Cute story, Mike! I hate tidying up toys but Hannah is so funny tidying rooms at the moment. She can clear a room in seconds and you then worry where she put it all.

      1. Sometimes lol. What’s that doing there? is a common phrase in our house.

  5. I don’t wish to be pedantic, but the survey you linked to doesn’t atually suggest that disorganised people are more creative than organised people, it says that a disorganised environment leads to more creative thinking than an organised environment, which isn’t necessarily the same thing. In their experiments they placed people in those environments, they weren’t sorted by their creativity skills to start with but those who were placed in the disorganised environment then behaved more creatively than those who weren’t. We can’t necessarily conclude from that that disorganised people are more creative because actually a creative person may come up with a creative solution on how to be very organised, and just not realise that in doing so, they are creating for themselves an environment that will in fact suppress their creativity! I am being too pedantic aren’t I? Sorry. I just can’t help it while I’m doing all these academic studies! Cute story about ya boy though! 😉

      1. A disorganised engineer, sounds a bit like my Dad! He was a disorganised electronics engineer! Not that I’m suggesting you remind me of my Dad…oh dear, I’m going now…

  6. You would quiver in fear if you stood at the door to my son’s room or his “workshop.” We do live in an earthquake prone region, and I swear we will all end up lying under piles of things that he couldn’t bear to throw away. After all, you never know when you’re going to need to build a ping pong ball sucker upper or a mini weapon of mass destruction (books 1 and 2 of MWOMD are in one of his piles). Those miscellaneous wires and clamps, rubber bands and toilet paper tubes, pipe cleaners and string, styrofoam balls and feathers, etc…..can all be used to make a costume or contraption sometime in the future, right? Oh, our household is just one ginormous ball of creativity given this standard. And the science project that goes into school tomorrow? The “EV3 Robot vs. Human — which is better at detecting color and shades of color?” science project has left the living room covered in sticky tabs, abandoned captions, shreds of paper, and crumpled up radar graphs showing the results. Where is Rumba when I need him? Oh yeah, he’s been banished to the dog house….

  7. Isn’t that crazy? I’m super organized too – I mean, I spent two hours yesterday organizing beads. Beads! But I consider myself semi-creative, anyway. And two of my kids are just like yours – the oldest is more like me in that regard. So funny the way they need that SPECIFIC thing from that ONE set, you know, the one they got for Christmas three years ago and it has purple and it’s like….MOM, YOU HAVE TO HELP ME FIND IT!

    1. I am often teased by my wife for my anal retentive tendencies, which I admit can be extreme. Organization-wise she’s is extreme in the opposite direction She and Alex are cut from the same cloth.

      I’ll often come home from work and engage in dialogue like:

      “Why are there winter coats all over the floor?”
      “I’m organizing them.”
      “Then why are you nowhere near them?”
      “Because the phone rang.”
      “Are you on the phone?”
      “No. That was an hour ago.”

      1. Ha! Here it’s always, “Where’s my coat? Why are you hiding my stuff?” “I put it IN THE CLOSET where it belongs.” “Stop hiding my stuff.”

  8. “Nine-Deck Zombie Super War 4000”? With games like that, you’ll have every kid on the block over. That should help your organization. 😉

    I’m mostly organized, but my desk is not. Hopefully this means I’m creative in the arena I need to be…

  9. Love that the game only takes 4 minutes. He’s so right, the best part of playing is the creating. And you’re so right too, the other best part of playing is the cleaning up part (oh how I love an organized house…).

  10. Apparently I am quite creative.
    Off topic (a bit), any chance your wife rents you out as a straightener? Maybe someone should start a company that hires only people who are OCD inclined to organize. People like me could pay them to come and help me straighten/organize.

    1. Ellen has suggested that I consider this as a career on many occasions. The problem, however, is that organizing others’ lives would distract me from keeping my own house in order.

      So yer on your own.

  11. I immediately realized you have a picture book here in this story. YOU realize that, don’t you? Such a great theme in it – we OCD types having to learn to live with the crazy unorganized ‘sloppy’ types, the father/son ‘thing,’ the card game itself (which of course is way cooler than just War or Uno, or, like, an organized full-of-rules card game. Mike, stop playing cards and write/illustrate this book!!! I’ll buy the first copy!!!!!

  12. I’ll play if – and only if – there are cookies. Chocolate chip oatmeal, preferably.
    And I’d toss the entire deck into a Ziploc bag without re-sorting it back into the respective tribes. You’re never really going to play a standard card game, are you?

  13. I love combining random things. When I was a kid, my younger brother and sister and I would play with the hodge-podge of toys acquired from ourselves and our two oldest sisters. This ended up being an entire society of Batmans (at least 30 unique versions), Barbies, and My Little Ponies lain out on a Matchbox car playmat. We spent more time coming up with who everyone was than actually playing. It was awesome.

    1. My favorite toy combination (much to my older sister’s dismay) was using my Star Wars figures in her antique dollhouse (which was almost the perfect scale). My favorite characters were the Death Star employee (with the gray suit and the arrestingly large black helmet), a stormtrooper, Gredo, and Hammerhead — the Rosencrantzs and Guildensterns of the original trillogy. In my little drama, I pretended the foursome had to defend the house from a crowd of invisible zombies. It was a fine way to spend an afternoon.

  14. I love the “conbentions” of little boys. I sense my son is on the way to great games … Zombies scare me, so I hope that doesn’t take hold in our house. 😦

  15. Love it, and who needs needs official research to show chaos breeds creativity – I know MY chaos is a great creative catalyst, but other people’s chaos…now that’s another matter entirely. And human beings are WAAAAY toooo complex and magical to box as neatly as those multiple card decks once you’ve finished with them, because you are clearly HIGHLY creative, so those researchers have clearly missed something. And yeah, these cute stories about you and your boy get me every time:-) The love is just about melting my laptop screen…. Hugs, H xxxxxx

  16. Your son sounds brilliant!! and I am sure he gets his creative genes from his dad!
    You literally cannot see the top of my desk right! But I have OCD when it comes to our finances and balancing the checkbook. Oh…and my kitchen. I have to have all my bowls and pots and pans in very specific places and even stacked a certain way. Drives hubby crazy when my desk becomes a mess. But hey…I know where everything is. It is a disaster but it is an organized disaster!! So does that make me creative sometimes? ha ha ha!

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