Friday, January 27, 2012

This Tastes Gamey



By Gabriella Herkert


Catnapped and Doggone


Like most of us who spend our time plotting against strangers and psychologically manipulating our characters, I love games. Love, love, love. I have since I was small. Confession time: I prefer to win. I’m talking everything from hopscotch to checkers to the master class we call Clue. I won’t cheat to win (okay I would if I still thought of it as winning under those circumstances) but I’ve been known to throw an elbow or two despite never having been officially asked to leave the pitch. It’s the game within a game that is the biggest rush. How do you get the best soccer player so distracted he doesn’t keep shelling your keeper? Or talk your real estate broker brother-in-law into trading you Pennsylvania Avenue and the green monopoly for a promise of cut-rate rent at the budget conscious yellow properties and a Get Out of Jail Free Card? The best games always turn out to be the ones where the real rules aren’t found on a slip of paper in a box (or in the case of Mille Bornes when the rules are written in French and no one is still sober enough to translate). My favorite games aren’t the ones in the middle of the table.

Gaming 101 starts with (insert evil laugh) scheming against friends and teammates. They may be playing Life but you can be living one. If your newly-dating brother picks up the card announcing the birth of twins, ask him what he’d name them. Horace and Mortimer? Bet on the new girl flinching for every turn and not lasting the week. Ever done a Dominoes fling pool? Quietly let the good sports pick a round in which your calling out numbers while the control-freak accountant counts points sets him to whipping the double-twelve at your head. Duck and collect your cash while he loses all ability to strategize. Or how about the Bananagrams post-game reveal? After everyone’s board is complete, take loud note of how many of the words on your up-tight neighbor’s space have some link, however tangential, to her sex life and how much too much information that is. This is a particularly effective game winning technique. Not only will she hesitate before using her tiles to make even innocuous words like leash and ache but the rest of the group will also drop to wolf-boy verbal levels. Take your near-perfect verbal SAT score and go to the head of the class.

Some of the newer games already have the insidious let me dig into your head element built-in. On a more sinister note, they even portend to be non-competitive. These malevolent cubes are called Tabletop Conversations like they are a happy walk in the park with a puppy on a string. So not true. If my neighbor is asked how old he was when he got his first kiss (Date Night Collection) and answers thirteen, you know his roommate will claim a pre-teen pucker. When you sputter for an answer as to your soul mate, your best friend will be quick to use your ex’s name when she gets asked to one animal she’d never let sleep in the house (Pets Edition). That’s what friends are for. If her husband lists the same former as the guy he’d most like to hang out with in a bar (Party Pack), you can return the favor by looking pointedly in his direction when asked who is most likely to be the next one camping (Travel). If things get really nasty, the cube itself weighs about five pounds and has sharp edges. Check your home owner’s insurance before throwing a game night, then have a ball.

Have I mentioned that I’ve been devising a political game of my own? This one is built to get the political reactionaries to double-check their issue positions and see a little common ground. Here’s a taster. What president said that “where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost?” You’ll never guess but if you do, let me know. I’d love to know I’ve got you on your toes.

Thanks for playing.
Gabi

5 comments:

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Ummmm, remind me never to play board games with you. I don't think my psyche could take it. Then again, maybe saying that is my own game. Great post, Gabi!

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Scared to play a board game with you, but here's the start. Ronald Reagan in Poland. But I cheated and used google.

Your post illustrates why you are such a good lawyer. I want you getting me out of jail, should the need ever arise, which would probably only happen if I hung out more with you, so...

Meredith Cole said...

I guess we won't be having a criminal minds game night anytime soon! Too bad (insert evil laugh here). Sounds like some great suggestions for how we could all make good use of our twisted imaginations...

Joshua Corin said...

I am scared. =)

lil Gluckstern said...

Now I know where your books comes from-your really criminal minds.:) :) It's okay because I love your books, but I don't think I would play board games with you guys. I like my crimes on the printed page.