Are you board?
I don’t remember playing an abundance of board games growing up but that isn’t to say we didn’t play our fair share as a family. There are two games in particular that I recall playing, or not playing, in our house. First, there was Trivial Pursuit. I’m sure you are all familiar with the game of pie pieces and trivia that can only be answered by Ken Jennings. I can remember it now, a cold winter evening in 1993 with everyone in the house. Carrie, my sister, is home for the winter break from college. Some snow is falling and it is dark by 3:37pm so no one has any plans to go out. “Why don’t we play a game?” someone would say, probably me. “Ok, let’s play Trivial Pursuit” someone would say, probably Dad. Then the nightmare would begin.
Sure, the game would start out fun as all board games want to do. The die would be rolled and the pieces moved. Mom would land on a yellow square and the question would be read. “What did 100,000 self-conscious American women buy 200,000 of in 1980?” Mom, being one of the smartest women I know casually responds, “Oh, well that is easy, boobs.” She is correct (sort of) in that the answer is breast implants. Of course, that is the last question her, or anyone else in our family of four, would answer for the next 17 hours.
Question: What is the first name of the New Zealand poet Tuwhare?
Are you kidding me? How am I supposed to know that? (Answer: Hone). Mom will go into the kitchen and make some hot chocolate. I have some too.
Question: Who played the bass guitar for The Beatles only for the group’s four appearances in December, 1960?
I’m going to say John Lenin’s younger brother, Vladimir (Answer: Chas Newby). Dad takes our dog, Peanut, out to use the bathroom while I refill my hot chocolate.
Question: What is the scientific name for a rabbit’s tail?
It has to be jackass. You know, like a jack rabbit but on the ass? (Answer: scut). Carrie goes into her bedroom for a 20 minute phone call with one of her college friends while I have a third cup of hot chocolate. I start to get jittery and a sugar rush from the fake sweetener.
This continues until as a family we come to the conclusion that we will never get all six pie pieces at this rate. First, we modify the rules that every space qualifies for a pie piece. All you have to do is answer the question. Then we change the rules again so you only have to get three pie pieces to win the game. Finally, next person to get a question right wins. Inevitably Dad comes away victorious. That isn’t to say that Dad is smarter than everyone else in my family (he is) but he has really won through attrition since he was able to stay awake long enough to get to a question he knows. Fun times.
The second board game from my youth was Monopoly. This game was forbidden to be played or at least Carrie refused to play it. Somewhere in the history of my family I developed a reputation for being a ruthlessly talented Monopoly player. I don’t know how this rumor started because I don’t have any memories of playing Monopoly as a kid but that is ok. I was glad to be (and glad that I am still) feared on the Monopoly board.
When I met Rizzo I met a board game fanatic. There is nothing in the world she loves more than spending an evening with a glass (bottle) of wine, a bowl (or three) of popcorn, and a game (or ten) of Clue: Secrets and Spies. I’m also a fan of a good board game from time to time. Some of my best memories are spent around board games, like:
- Spending an entire day (literally) sitting on the back porch on a beautifully sunny spring day, playing multiple one-on-one games of Monopoly with Rizzo, and drinking some good beer
- Sitting in the common room of a hostel in Glasgow, Scotland, playing rummy with Rizzo, our good friends the Drusteps, and a random dude from Germany (I don’t remember his name but he was deemed the Rummy King of Germany) when a drunk Scot burst through the door, yells at the top of his lungs that he is staying right next door in room 312 and that we needed to “Keep it the fuck down”. Then he pointed at me and said “Especially you!” It should be noted that we were barely speaking above a whisper, I wasn’t speaking at all, and we were on the first floor of the building that didn’t even have a room 312.
- My parents giving me a gift of the game Jackass for Christmas. Rizzo was down with her family so it was just the four of us (Mom, Dad, Carrie, and I). I was maybe 31 or 32 years old at the time. The four of us sat at the dining room table playing Jackass and laughing our heads off. That was a good night.
- Spending every day on my honeymoon with Rizzo playing Phase 10 (perhaps one of the greatest card games ever invented). This gift from the Kane (Colicci) family has been with us since our wedding day and continues to be a great game for us. We played Phase 10 during our honeymoon and we played Phase 10 on the day Cece was born. I know this because we have kept a journal of every game of Phase 10 we have played (I’m winning) and we will keep this as long as we are alive.
At this point in the blog I’m going to try and tell a story that isn’t my own, but actually is Rizzo’s story. We will let her correct it in the comments section but know that no part of this is intentionally inaccurate. When Rizzo was a kid she played Scrabble with her Mom, Kathy, and her Grandmother, Grandma Maxwell. Rizzo would, and continues to, regale me with stories of the three of them in Grandma Maxwell’s Atlanta home spending hours looking up words in their personal Scrabble dictionary (they each had their own) and trying to come up with the best word. Rizzo still has her Scrabble dictionary.
To celebrate Rizzo’s love of Scrabble and love of her family I got her a special gift for Christmas 2014. She was surprised when she opened up her fancy-pants wooden Scrabble board complete with wooden tiles and a turntable to allow for easy access for all players. I even told her that I would play a game with her the night she opened it (don’t I look excited).
Board games are important part of life in our household. Rizzo and I have two constant board games going at all times. We always have a chess game in progress and we now always have a Scrabble game in progress. Our dining room is rarely used for dining but is constantly used for playing games. Both of us look forward to playing games with Cece. I hope they will serve as a great way to teach and a great way to bond for many years to come.
P.S. If anyone is interested in coming over for a game night we are always ready to set that up. I’ll make sure the Quelf and the Dicescapades are ready to go.
P.P.S. What are your favorite board games? Rizzo and I are always looking for new games to try, no matter how nerdy they might be. I mean, we often play Carcassonne (look it up), so we are willing to try playing just about any board game.