I must be getting old. It used to be there was nothing more fun to me than attempting to cram my house near capacity with friends, bounty hunters, and random strangers from the street and Internet, fill them up with Jello shots and proceed to piss off most of the block. Sometimes I’d cap off the night by pulling on my roller skates and having guests whirl a frisbee at me as I coasted up and down the street.
But now I just want to hunker down with some family-friendly board games, maybe wrap myself in a shawl, perhaps nibble on some Melba toast.
OK fine, maybe I still like to drink a little and get sort of kind of a lot too loud. But now I almost can’t imagine having a party without games. Games bring people together, ya’ll. Or, in the case of Henry and me, push people apart.
The guest list for Game Night #1 of ’09:
- Corey & his not-girlfriend-but-should-be-girlfriend KC
- Niffer and Weird Paul, who brought Pretzels and only the most fascinating board game of all time
- Collin and a lovely bottle of wine for me for me for me
- Rhonda & her wonderful Jill, who brought a cute hippo for Chooch and delicious baked goods for me
It was unusual not having Janna there, but I guess it’s my fault for not keeping better tabs on her, otherwise I’d have known not to schedule game night on the same weekend she was out of town. She’s the only person besides Henry who I feel I can physically assault when a round of Scattergories gets particularly tense and heated. Her absence also meant no homemade guacamole or platter of fancy cookies, which is really the only reason I invite her anyway. Surely it has nothing to do with her game-playing braun.
In my Evite, I swore that, unlike Game Nights past, we would not be fixating solely on Catchphrase. I was dying to play Last Word, which was veto’d at the last game night, so I plopped it down in Jill’s lap and said, “Here, you do it.” She looked like someone who might enjoy reading and relaying directions, I don’t know. She quickly deemed it confusing, as did Rhonda, so Last Word was kicked away like a pissing puppy.
Instead, we played the Pop-Up Video game that came with Rhonda and Jill, but it was kind of obscure and Collin kept whimperingabout not wanting to sing (meanwhile KC was begging to sing – I will never again be able to hear Tracy Chapman singing “Fast Car” – even if it wasn’t her turn, and then she’d catch herself and slap her hand over her mouth. That girl would be my bff if I wasn’t an old lady!) so we switched to Catchphrase, which erupted into a near-lethal debate over button-pushing right from the start. If Kara had been there, she’d probably have started shanking people. She is very serious about her Catchphrase.
My favorite moment of Catchphrase was one of Blake’s turns. He kept shouting out clues like: “What I would say when I’m really excited to go somewhere! I’m in the car and can’t wait to get there!” So his team is shouting things like, “Are we there yet? Shotgun?” and Blake, he’s getting real frustrated now, and has taken to accentuating his clues with a series of wild gesticulations, pumping his arms and pulling faces. “I’m so excited to be going somewhere and this is what I say!” he shouted one last time before the buzzer went off. No one could guess it, and he exasperatedly said, “Away we go!”
“I’d like to see a video of you saying that in the car,” Collin said, sulking because his gay team lost a point, boo-hoo. And then I couldn’t stop picturing Blake – with his plethora of piercings, tattoos, and gauges large enough to stuff with bratwurst – skipping to the car, swinging his arms, and cheering, “Away we go!” Corey and KC left during Catchphrase. It was simply too fast-paced for them.
Paul brought with him an old board game called Uncle Wiggily. I found myself gawking at it, ogling it even, from across the room. I’d find reasons to go to the dining room so I could slowly walk past it, dropping hints here and there about how, gee whiz, that game sure looked swell. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it intrigued me nearly as much as the time in ninth grade when I walked in on Jameelah and her brother smoking pot from a crushed can of Cherokee Red.
The Uncle Wiggily game referenced odd-sounding herbs (Niffer, who is wiser than the rest of us, had to educate) and name-dropped characters who had names stranger than the ones I make up. Collin goes at one point, “What the fuck, was this shit written in the ’20s?” Apparently the books it’s based on was. Jill laughingly said, “Whoever made this game was high,” to which Blake retorted with, “Yeah, high on vocabulary.” Do not underestimate the power of a sixteen year old’s comedic timing.
Team Brenna&Collin won. It’s true, they were more skillful at card-drawing than the rest of us thought. I thought Brenna was going to get up on the table and do the Big Shoe Dance, she was so pumped up. Collin funneled his enthusiasm onto a pink balloon.
I decided to suggest one last time. Paul and Niffer hadn’t yet arrived the first time I begged to play it, and Paul made the mistake of admitting that he had played that game before. I pawned it off on him and he proceeded to freshen up on the instructions.
Up until this point, I feel that I was pretty well-behaved. I hadn’t been punching Henry or engaging in loudly slurred conversation, even though I had been quietly sipping vodka. But when a game is centered around having the last word? I don’t know, I could have been imbibing Shirley Temples laced with the essence of Sunday School all day long and I still would have been an out of control, must win at all costs, token person you want to coldcock at the party. Besides, games with timers have a certain urgency that make me shout my words to compensate for the rising panic.
When I sat back down, Brenna goes, “Calm down” and patted my thigh or some shit, as I recall, but that’s what game night is all about! Getting the blood pressure up! Being the best! BEING A WINNER. Besides, I was having all the fun.
Speaking of winning, I won that game even when Henry vetoed my last word of “fang” for the “Things That Are Metal” category, even though I stamped my feet and screeched what would he know, he’s never been to Dracula’s Ball? And then he said, “But then the letter would have had to have been ‘m’ for ‘metal fang'” and I was all, “Are you a fucking retard?”
Everyone was exhausted after having their minds obliterated by my genius, so game night came to a satisfying close.
Two concluding thoughts:
- I should have these more often
- I am not proofreading this
- I would like to hang out with Rhonda more than just once a year
(Pretend 3 is the new 2.)