Board Game Revival
Recently, to my delight, my daughter pulled out a hand-me-down Hi Ho Cherry-O game and played it on the kitchen floor while I made dinner. I immediately recognized the box as it belonged to the must-have board game trilogy when I was a kid. Back in my day, if you weren’t proficient in Hi Ho Cherry-O, Chutes and Ladders and Candyland, you would have been asked to repeat the first grade.
Sometime in the dead of last winter when I hadn’t left the house for five straight days and cabin fever had pried off the last finger of my grip on reality, something started really nagging at me. Well, lots of things. It started with an aluminum yogurt seal that sliced into the tip of my pinkie finger. So as I searched for the consumer hotline for Stonyfield Dairy, I became sidetracked by the next bee in my bonnet. My husband and I had just finished watching Seabiscuit for the twenty-fourth time and I loathed myself through every minute of it. Indoor leisure time just ain’t what it used to be, I thought.
“Why are we not playing board games?” I whined to my husband. “Why don’t people play board games anymore?” Outside of those under the age of nine, board games are dead. Dead and pathetically tossed off their pedestal, gladiator-style, by Wii Tennis. How degrading. So right then and there, I declared aloud to my husband that I would launch a board game revival. Yes, sir. Just you wait.
To start off, I told him, I was going to invite over several of our friends, not disclose what we were going to do, and force them into a round of Trivial Pursuit. All night long. No one’s leaving until the end. The legitimate end. Which means, you can bet your life someone’s going to earn every damn pie piece. Even Arts & Literature. None of this “we’ll quit when we’ve had enough” business. Then, when that night was over, I was going to do it all over again the following weekend. This time with Pictionary. Only, since the last guests would be on to me and no doubt avoiding my future dinner invitations, I’d have to invite another set of friends. Then, the next time would be Clue. And so on. What if I run out of friends? Rest assured, I won’t run out of board games.
Perhaps during no other time growing up did I feel more of a sense of family bonding than when we’d all sit around the ol’ card table for a lively game of Sorry. Well, I think it happened at least once. Maybe twice. Okay, I know it happened one New Year’s Eve. Raw meat in a fondue pot. Aerosol cheese on Ritz crackers. And a few board games at hand. 1985 never felt better. I cannot wait to inflict this tradition on my children. Of course I know they’re too young for this now. Yes, I’ll definitely put this on hold until they’re older. Like in high school. When it becomes a total drag for them to stay home with Mom and Dad on the biggest party night of the year. They’ll be on their way out the door and I’ll head ‘em off at the pass with the Tripoley box in my hands and a “gotcha” smile on my face. I can hardly wait!
In order to do it right though, I’ll first have to make sure my kids learn to play all the staples from my childhood. Here are my top ten favorites, in no particular order:
10.) Password – The innovation of a red cellophane window that allowed you to see scrambled words blew my mind! Although, would it have been that hard, Milton Bradley, to have formatted this as 3-D glasses? I promise, you would’ve made my entire year.
8.) The Game of Life – Because how your life turns out is really just a roll of the dice, right? Deep, huh.
7.) Sorry – I don’t enjoy playing this game with someone who doesn’t say it like they really mean it.
6.) Monopoly – Eight-year-old-me did not like this game. It soared way above my head. But I loved getting to prance around the board with those adorable metal figurines. So cute that they often disappeared from the box. And reappeared soldered to my charm bracelet.
5.) The Ungame – Nobody loses, true, but nobody wins either. It offered open-ended questions for you to ponder and discuss. I would bet money this game was invented by a shrink to trick teenagers into communicating with their parents.
3.) PayDay – I used to hoard the PayDay money under my mattress, knowing it would be the only time in my young life that I would possess a wad of cash like that.
2.) Uncle Wiggily – A round of this game often manifested into wicked nightmares, thanks to a terrifying bird named the Skeezicks.
1.) Clue – What a great game for kids. The bite-sized murder weapons were my favorite. Thanks to Clue, my Pink & Pretty Barbie would pack heat to all her social engagements. I would do anything to have the original game with the original set of creepy people photos. Notably Mrs. White, Professor Plumb and Colonel Mustard. Side note, wouldn’t Colonel Mustard be a rockin’ name for a band? Or a car? Or a parakeet?
Honorable Mention (because they’re not really board games):
Operation – My biology teacher Mr. Sybrant had to deprogram me after I learned human anatomy from this game. What, the Adam’s Apple isn’t actually an apple? Get outta town.
Mouse Trap – did anyone even play this as a board game? I much preferred to simply build the thing and snare the plastic mouse. Why bother with the rest of that gobbledygook stuff.
Battleship – This game really hinges on your partner’s honesty. My brother was either really lucky or a big fat liar or I had a really poor aim.
Care to admit your own favorite board games? Share if you dare.