From the book
It was the best idea ever. Bigger and Better. It had legs. Bigger and Better was a game. A mash-up between a scavenger hunt and trick-or- treating. You'd start with a small object and go door-to-door to see if anybody would trade something bigger or better for it. When you made a trade you'd go to another door and see if you could trade your new object for something bigger and better. Eventually, with enough hard work, you could end up with something much bigger and better than you started with.For example, you could start with a spoon. You'd take that spoon to the neighbor's house, and maybe they'd offer you a boot. You could then take the boot to the next neighbor and they'd say, "Hey! I could use a boot, I accidentally threw one of mine out the passenger window onto the shoulder of the freeway last week. I have an old microwave. Would you like to trade that boot for a microwave?"
At this point you'd nod yes, take the microwave and run as fast as possible to find your friends and show off your new microwave. You'd have a great story about how you got your microwave and from that moment on stare at every solitary boot on the side of a freeway and wonder if that was the boot. Then a few weeks later your mom would come into your room and say, "Hey, I can't find my antique spoon. Have you seen it anywhere?" At this point you'd shake your head no and she'd say, "And do you know anything about that smelly old microwave in the garage?"
Bigger and Better was awesome.
I grew up in Port Moody, a suburb east of Vancouver, Canada. Friends at high school told tales of amazing Bigger and Better adventures. One group started with a penny and traded up to a couch in just one afternoon. Another group started with a clothespin and worked their way up to a fridge in an evening. Rumor had it that in the next suburb over, some kids started early in the morning with a toothpick and traded all the way up to a car before the day was over. A car. Of course nobody had proof that any of these things actually happened, but it didn't matter. Suburban legend or not, it was possible. Anything was possible. And we were all about making anything possible.
We were sixteen. We'd just passed our road tests. The driver's licenses were just itching to be used. There was only one thing on our mind: cars. We wanted to be Marty McFly. We wanted to park our freshly waxed black 1985 Toyota pickup on an angle in the garage and turn the front wheels to enhance its sportiness. We wanted to take Jennifer up to the lake for the big party on the weekend. Yeah, where we were going, we wouldn't need roads. So much was possible. Our children could one day meet a middle-aged DeLorean-driving mad scientist who would invent the flux capacitor and accidentally get sent back in time to right all the wrong choices we'd made in our lives so we could then realize our dream of being science fiction writers.
It was possible.
But we were sixteen. And never read science fiction books. Or even remotely considered the idea of being writers.
We looked at each other and nodded. That night was the night. It was going to happen. We were going to do it. We were going to play Bigger and Better until we got cars. Tonight. All we needed was a toothpick. We couldn't find a toothpick, so we "found" the next best thing: a Christmas tree from the local Christmas tree lot.
We picked up the Christmas tree and carried it over to the first house that still had its lights on. We knocked on the door. We heard footsteps. We looked at one another. We were so getting cars. A shadow approached the door...