Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Imaginiff you went Beyond Balderdash

Yesterday I got to do something I don't do very often: play board games with my extended family. Although this is something I grew up doing on every conceivable occasion, it's not something I get a chance to do much anymore. Celebrating Christmas at my parents house, my brother and his wife were down from Austin, and my sister was over with her two boys. After all the gifts were opened, the food was eaten, and the libations consumed, we kicked off the games with a game of Family Feud.

My father printed pages and pages of questions from the internet and played "Richard Dawson" as the boys took on the girls. The questions were supposedly current through 2002, but when "Pentax" cameras placed in a survey of most popular cameras while "Olympus" and "Sony" did not, we knew that 1982 was more likely the era of these questions. After adjusting our responses to what we thought was popular 20 years ago, we got on a good role, for instance, when asked the top four video game system, we answered Atari, Colecovision, Intellivision, and Tandyvision (not Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Nintendo DS).

Throughout the game, it also seemed like the women were getting the easy questions, like "name the top five integers between one and five" while the guys were getting questions like "name the 5 least used characters in the Hebrew alphabet." A question like that is hard enough today, but even more so when you're trying to think which Hebrew letters were shunned 20 years ago!

After what seemed like 2 hours (29 rounds!), the game began to lose its spark, especially since my son and nephew started taking each loss so personally (they couldn't believe that balloons would NOT be on a list of top 5 things made of rubber, or when we lost a round because we went with my "snoring" answer to steal and not my son's "cricket" answer, which we discovered was the number one thing you hear when you're trying to sleep.) We ended the first chapter of the game marathon, took a quick bathroom break, then hit the kitchen table for some more good ol' family fun.

First out of the box was a game we actually got for my mother, a game called "Imaginiff," where you get to decide which of 6 choices someone is most like. For instance, the question might read, "What if Kevin were a type of rug, which one would he be? 1. An area rug 2. An expensive oriental rug 3. A toupee 4. A remnant 5. Auto upholstery 6. With frayed edges and a wine stain"

You can see how a family without a good sense of humor can really get into it with a game like this. Sometimes the answer is an obvious fit, like a person who has trouble following through on their many projects being described as a candy bar that gets stuck in the vending machine, or a person who enjoys a good stiff drink needing champagne at a picnic. Sometimes, though, it's a stretch to come up with an answer that even remotely makes sense, like "If 'so and so' were a color, they would be 1. Chiffon 2. Chartreuse 3. Alizarin 4. Terre Verte 5. Viridian 5. Cyan." I don't even know who 'so and so' is.

After going through half the cards, and repairing bruised egos, we switched to my favorite game behind Trivial Pursuit: Beyond Balderdash, a game where you make up definitions to exotic words, write fictitious movie plots to zany titles, create plausible claims to fames of individuals with interesting names, and give believable meanings to acronyms. Having a pretty creative and witty family, this game always gives big laughs, and last night was no exception. My brother and I quickly abandoned reasonable answers and took the low road to rib-splitting humorous responses. I cannot even repeat the vulgar word my brother got my pious mother to read, but I was glad I was not drinking milk at the moment, or it would have been out of my nose.

At times I don't know if it was the answers themselves causing the hysterics or the hysterics themselves, but the game was interrupted several times by long fits of laughing, snorting, chortling, convulsing, and whooping. The highlight of the evening, and any game session with my family, was when we got my dad to do his unique laugh, whereby he goes into a rhythmic falsetto laugh through closed, tearful eyes, as he barely manages to feed it with air. Once he (and the rest of us) recovered, we're almost too weak to continue anymore, exhausted from our laughathon.

Eventually, I had to take my wife and kids home, as it was getting very late, but I think it's safe to say that we all had a good time. Sure, the gifts and presents we got were nice and thoughtful, but the real gift yesterday was the joy we brought to each other through the healthy activity of laughing not just WITH each other, but AT each other as well, and in MY family, there's plenty of both varieties.

Merry Christmas

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i was thinking the same things about all the fun everyone was having. the gifts and eating were great in themselves, but having a chance to play all our games with family made christmas eve so special. that was the highlight of the evening. My jaws are still sore from all the laughing! Family is # 1.