games people play

sometimes we get board. sometimes, we get dice.

Happy Columbus Day to all.

I had a great time with my mom over the weekend. I’m glad she came to visit. We watched old movies, we had meals, we sat and talked and had a great time. She left us with a new game: Scrabble.

Not that Scrabble is a new game, mind you, but it is new in our game circle, and I’m sure it’s to be our new obsession.

My friends and I tend to get a little obsessive about our games.

It must have started with us playing the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, before it became such a terribly trendy thing to do… I’m still quite good at it though, but I keep it a secret. You know, I lived with him, and all. Can you imagine? I never thought that was going to come in handy.

Actually, I think it all started with Taboo. This is a game where you try and get your partner to say the word on the card, but you cannot use the other words on the card that closely describe the word. Playing this game in couples makes for an interesting game. You can see how close the couples are.

“Uh… this was when we went out to the store yesterday..”

Pretty amazing sometimes. Other times it causes fury and disappointment:

“August fifteenth.”
“Come ON! August fifteenth.”
“Arbor day? Flag Day?”
“No.. August fifteenth.”
“I need another clue.”
“No! Picture frames.”
“It’s our ‘anniversary’, you asshole.”

So we had to put that game away for a while because we had used up all the cards, and some people didn’t want to be on other people’s team because they always lost.

Then we started playing Monopoly, which just took too much of our lives. Plus there was one horrid game where during the deal making section it got out of hand.

“Okay, if you give me Boardwalk and Baltic, I’ll give you Marvin Gardens and I’ll let you have free rent on all the tan properties.”
“Okay, but you have to let me have free rent on North Carolina as well.”

By the end of the game, one of my friends didn’t have any properties, but didn’t have to pay rent on any square. He just went around the board, hoping to land on Free Parking, to get the money in the kitty. One time we had a rule where all the money spent on unmortgaging properties went into the kitty. One player ended up a millionaire, and then the game was pretty much over.

Some of us like playing Pictionary, some of us hate it. Some of us can’t draw for squat:

“Uh.. Dog. Cat. Fish. It’s a flag? Flag day. Homer Simpson. Telly Savalas. Telly Savalas in a hot dog bun. Tornado. What? What the hell is that?”
“It’s a snake, you idiot.”
“Well, I’m fucking sorry, Picasso.”

Trivial Pursuit always leaves someone unhappy, because they don’t like playing trivia, or they get on a dumb team, or someone just cleans up and no one has any fun.

Balderdash we tried once. Once. I don’t think we’ll ever play again. When you laugh at someone else’s lie, they get upset. Rather upset.

So we were on a mission to find a game that made everyone happy. It cost six dollars. It’s called “Last Chance.”

It’s like mixing Yatzee with Craps. You have a combination that you have to roll in so many tries, and if you get it, you win money. Everyone else gets to bet on whether or not you will make it. It’s a lot of fun and high energy and it doesn’t really require too much skill, except for knowing whether or not you should bet for or against the shooter.

Then we got nuts with an obsession to drive to Louisiana to go gambling on the river boats, so we started playing Black Jack, where I would be the dealer, and everyone else sat on the other side of the table. We used the chips from Last Chance to make it a casino feel, and I was dealing from six decks. Much drunken fun.

Then we took the Last Chance board and made a Craps table.

Gambling addicts, everyone.

Memory Madness was a game we played once. You have a category, and you go around the room trying to find another word that fits that category and you go until someone repeats or you get stumped. This was fine for “Oceans” or “Santa’s Reindeer.” But when the category was “Containers,” we could play for an hour straight on one category. It was maddening. We checked the box… The company who made the game was called “Endless Games.” Well, that certainly explained it.

Then we found a game called Encore! which I think we bought for a road trip. You basically get a word, and then you have to sing songs with that word in them, back and forth, team to team, until someone is stumped or repeats (notice a similarity?). This is fine for a word like “Finger,” but I swear to God we had “had” once. It went on for hours. Maker of the game? You guessed it: “Endless Games.” Encore! is fun, and most of us like it, because you get to sing and show off how many songs you know… but it’s like an investment if you want to play the game. You aren’t going anywhere for the rest of the night. Plus you get this:

“The word is ‘can’t’”
“Can’t buy me love! I don’t know what to do.”
“That’s not how the song goes.”
“Yeah, but you know what I meant.”
“But that’s not how the song goes.”
“Who doesn’t know ‘Can’t Buy Me Love?’?”
“You, apparently. That’s not how the song goes.”

Or this:

“The category is ‘Songs about Work’”
“Take out the papers and the trash! Or you don’t get no spending cash!”
“Uh.. that’s not really about work.”
“What? You’re cleaning. That’s work.”
“No it’s not.”
“Well, it sure feels like work when I’m cleaning up after you!”
“Okay, let’s not start.”
“No, let’s start! You think I don’t do any work around here?”

And so on.

I found one of my favorite board games from when I was a kid: Life. Let me say right now that the only person who has a good time when we play Life is me. I have a damn giggly blast. I love the insurance, the stock, playing the market, Revenge– sue for damages… I just have a great seven year-old time. Everyone else is merely humoring me, since I sat through another Monopoly game.

Then we found Outburst, which is where you have a category, and everyone else has to guess all the words in that category within a certain time. We killed the game in two weeks.. playing every single card. It was an obsession. Get it, it’s fun.

We had another failed attempt with Password, which required us to be too quiet to play. Plus we had this method of cheating which drove us nuts:

“Not… Texas…”

Absolute cheaters, all of ’em.

“You Don’t Know Jack” doesn’t work, because only three can play at a time, and I don’t let people smoke on the computer.

So we were trying to find a new game, because all of the ones that we can all agree on are quite stale right now. My mother brought Scrabble… a game I haven’t played since I was a kid and a game I don’t think Eric had ever played. I never knew how much fun Scrabble was. I mean, I played along on the t.v. show, but this is different. My only beef about Scrabble is you think so long that no one talks, and if you take too long trying to find a word everyone begins to hate you and you hate yourself for taking so long.

But last night I was playing with Eric and I looked down at my tiles…T..A…U….Q….L….E….I…
I looked down at the beautiful word on my tile rack. TEQUILA.

Now to find a place for it. Eric was up by thirty points. This was going to be beautiful.
Then I took a look. There was “Join” sitting all by itself. I turned it into “Joint” and laid out my beautiful “TEQUILA.”
It landed on a double word score and the letter “Q” was sitting on a triple letter score! Added with “Joint” and my 50 point bonus for using all my tiles I had made 100 points. On one turn. Hell, yeah.

So I think I like Scrabble.

Does this make me sound fifty years-old? Just wondering. We like to play games because we can all sit around smoking and drinking and talking and we don’t have to spend any money… we are always in bars (performing and such) so sitting at home is always nice for me– why am I justifying this? Why can’t I be happy with my game addiction?

Because I’m aware of how lame it sounds here all laid out for you. But it’s not. It’s much fun. I swear. Promise. I mean it.

Damn. I’m such a geek.

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