Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Birthday Cake Shuffle

When I was a wee lass, and computers were very new, I spent a lot of time playing a certain primitive computer game that was supposed to teach youngsters logic. On your screen appeared three platforms, and on each platform was stacked a number of layers of a birthday cake. The three "cakes" were all jumbled up - the third to largest layer would be on top, and underneath it would be the smallest layer, and underneat that the fourth largest layer, and so on.

The goal of this game was to arrange the cakes on the platforms so that all three cakes had the smallest layer at the top, with the second smallest layer just underneath it, and so on. If you succeeded in a certain number of moves, you would win the game. If you put too many layers in the wrong order on one of the cakes, it would collapse, and you would lose the game.

Obviously, what made this game difficult was that there were no empty platforms. To move any layer, you had to move the layer on top of it onto the top of the adjacent cake, which would mess up the order of all that cake's layers.

The reason I am writing about this game today is that I have been playing this game today as I attempted to upgrade from a twin to a full-size bed. My entire apartment - or perhaps all of Manhattan - reminds me of this game. Because everywhere is already full around here. The platters overflow. There is nowhere for any new stuff to go.

Craig's List New York, particularly at the end of the month, overflows with ads posted by people who are moving to new apartments and trying desperately to unload their old furniture. Perfectly good couches and beds go for one tenth of their original place. Some are even posted as being available for free, with the ominous note, "Must provide own transportation."

So I thought it would be easy to find a new bed for super-cheap. So when I saw an ad for a full-size mattress, box-spring, and bedframe, all for $50, and when I found out that the seller lived two blocks away from me, I thought it was bound to be a breeze...

To be continued.


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