family game nights include cursing and violence

I don’t remember having a lot of family board game nights as a kid. Maybe we did and they just haven’t stayed in my memory or something, but as far as I know, it’s just not something that was a big part of our lives when we were growing up. Now that we’re older, though, it’s started to become a bit of a tradition to drag out a game or two around Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is something we make an extra effort to do when we have a boyfriend or another guest visiting, in an attempt to make other people believe we’re the kind of family that plays board games. We’re not. We’re the kind of family that eats dinner in front of the TV and has spirited arguments over who’s the best contestant on Survivor this year.

But yeah, anyway. What was I saying? Elaborate hoax of an idyllic family. Right. We drag out the board games.

We have approximately one million board games, and 999,995 of them are missing enough pieces to make them completely impossible to play. We could probably throw them away, but that would be way too easy. Besides, maybe the knife, candlestick, and noose from Clue will all turn up on the same day someday, just in time for us to figure out the mystery. So what if we lost those pieces twenty years and four houses ago and the dog who’s been dead for twelve years probably ate them? It could happen! Let’s hang onto that game just in case!

We don’t like trivia games very much. We prefer games that require little thought or skill, giving us lots of time to scream at each other and to come up with creative ways to cheat. Card games like Uno and Skip-Bo are particularly good for this. We also like Monopoly. Trivial Pursuit just hasn’t lent itself well to forming alliances and calling your sisters dirty whores. The only trivia exceptions are the Shout About Movies games, because they brilliantly allow us to combine screaming, alliances, and trivia with sitting on our asses in front of the TV. We don’t like Scene It! because there’s a board and shit and we just can’t keep up.

This weekend, the games on deck were UNO Spin and Monopoly.

Game playing almost got derailed entirely because during Wednesday Monopoly with Mom and Jamie, Jay offered to trade me two of her orange properties and two of her green ones for Park Place. We don’t cut Jamie any slack because she’s the youngest, so I took that deal and proceeded to wipe the floor with both of them. Mom and Jamie are horrible, horrible losers, and their crushing Monopoly loss led to a yellfest several hours later. We are lucky we recovered in time for UNO Spin on Friday night.

UNO Spin is like regular UNO except with a spinner that causes players to take extra actions. These extra actions nearly caused fistfights in my family. Highlights:

  1. Some other member of my family – certainly not I – called other members of the family bastards and sons of bitches.
  2. My mother punched me in the arm approximately four times, possibly in connection with the time I called her a mean old hag. When my mother punches, she punches with her whole body, and she leaves marks.
  3. When the game made us trade hands, my dad complained EVERY TIME that Jamie didn’t sort her hand by color. My mother complained that my cards were out of order and arranged “left-handed.” In possibly related news, I am left-handed.
  4. Jamie and Sammi had some kind of sketchy deal going on, as usual. I think they had a secret card-trading alliance.
  5. When the game made us show our hands, my mother would flip her hand down for a half of a millisecond and insist that this counted as showing her hand.
  6. The game was delayed by about ten hours because every time we cited a rule, Mom was convinced that we were making it up, and insisted on checking the actual rule book. She was the Rules Nazi for this particular game.
  7. Jamie complained for approximately seven rounds about the time we busted her for not saying UNO and made her draw two cards. She is probably still mad about that today.
  8. Mom tried to argue that throwing a yellow 2 down on a red DRAW 2 was a totally legitimate move, as both cards had the number 2 on them.
  9. Mom also blatantly tried to look at other people’s hands before playing her card.

At some point we got bored with UNO Spin, probably because I was winning every game, and we switched to Monopoly. Here’s what you need to know about how my family plays Monopoly:

  1. Dad gets mad when no one will make deals with him, but Dad is a Monopoly fiend and is capable of dominating the entire game with nothing but slums. He proved this in fine fashion on Friday night.
  2. Mom gets territorial, curses, and throws dice at people. She also tends to fight Jamie for the utilities.
  3. Sammi is a lousy money manager and tends to lose or quit early.
  4. Jamie tends to have lots of money and to make terrible deals. Jamie will, for example, offer you a thousand dollars and two free passes around the board for a single property. Sammi always sits next to Jamie because Jay will feel sorry for her and start slipping her money under the table. This is why Jamie tends to lose.
  5. I am always the banker, and I either win the game or I get my ass kicked. There’s no in-between. This time, I had my ass kicked, because I was playing against Dad the Master, and because I landed on maybe two properties in my first ten turns, when everyone else was snapping up all the real estate.

I am not sure how Ginny plays because she was not able to be home with us this year, and so we haven’t played with her in a while.

The Monopoly game lasted until the wee hours of the night, when Dad yelled “REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENT!” every time Mom landed on his slums, and I listlessly threw $100 bills at them when they passed Go. Finally, Dad dragged Mom kicking and screaming into bankruptcy, and insisted on counting his winnings. For the record, he had over ten thousand dollars.

And we were so wiped out on board games and tryptophan that that we all slept late the next day.

Comments 18

  • While I’m totally left blissed out by this posting, I have to confess it somewhat horrifies me. I’ve never been very comfortable with board games. They make me feel trapped…though one of my fondest memories from college involved a day that concluded with a hilarious, wine-fueled game of Pictionary and a large man acting as time-keeper and who drank straight from a bottle of NightTrain. I can still hear his fierce, drawn-out cries of “GO!” each time he flipped the tiny hour-glass…er, minute-glass.

    One might base a sitcom on your family. It’s all quite wonderful.
    -cK

  • Totally awesome. We always play Trivial Pursuit, guys v. girls. Our winning answer this Thanksgiving was “Katarina Witt.” Monopoly is also a classic. LOVE. IT.

  • Please note that there was drinking and Spice Girls involved in this particular game night.

  • Aw, crud. I forgot about the Spice Girls. Must have been all the booze.

  • Spice Girls? That one Spice Girls tune–the whole “Tell me what you want, what you really really want…” thing–was on the jukebox at the Cellar in Carbondale, Illinois. We used to put it on just to watch everyone in the bar freak out, either greatly amused or greatly sickened.

    If someone else put it on, someone we didn’t know, we usually tipped the bartender a buck to hit the skip button they had on the wall. This led to a complaint, and Jack, the owner, disconnected our skip button. Dammit.

    But we had it coming, I guess.
    -cK

  • I was taught Texas Hold’em (sp?) last weekend. I cleaned up. Beginner’s Luck I think because I really had no idea when I was allowed to check or when I had to raise or see or whatever. All I know is that my crowning moment was when I had no business doing the thing called “All In” on a pair of sixes. Ray thought he had me beat because he had 2 pairs (Queens and Jacks). The last card got turned (flop? river? I don’t know) and it was another six. I asked if 3 sixes beat his 2 pair. Cards were thrown as well as insults. A “why do I even bother?” was muttered as he went for another drink. It was a shining moment – unfortunately never to be repeated.

  • That last card… it’s the river… Phil Gordon told me so. Hell yeah Celebrity Poker Showdown.

  • we play monopoly all the time. I get many tents on my properties quickly, then wipe everyone out. Best property is Bagdad place and sand road. With many tents on each you collect many drakmars and win.

  • If you ever decide to clean those games out, I’ve been wanting to kill a clue game to make a clock or a magnet board for my best friend for quite some time, but I can’t bring myself to ruin a good copy of the game.

    I’m looking for a useless version of Risk for the same reason.

    Also, this entry was awesome. But you know. I make movies about board games, so.

  • We played Rook and Dogopoly, a version of Monopoly with, well, dogs. I finally picked up two properties late in the short game (bedtime for the young ones) and didn’t land on developed properties, so I was flush with cash.

    My in-laws bumped head trying to negotiate land swaps, and I egged them on just a tad.

    Sounds like your family should take up fencing or martial arts for recreational fun. All that exercise actually mellows one out.

  • Us… with weapons? and trained fighting? That is a terrible idea! It would most definitely end in tears.

  • Yeah, I have a feeling fencing or martial arts would not only end in tears, but in emergency room visits. We’re kind of violent.

  • Does Nerf make a fencing set? I suppose not. Those would be some fat foils, and at that circumference, you’d probably just use them like bats.

    Plus, Nerf, like most materials, stings when it strikes the eye.

    Hmm. Now I’m picturing your whole family gathered around a board game, only everyone is in straight-jackets and menace masks a la Hannibal Lecter. Your eyes shift.

    In the distance, a dog barks.
    -cK

  • Mmmmm…. kay. I’m over this post now.

  • cK, that’s some imagination. You ever write?

  • i love board games.

    1. yes, i think they do make nerf fencing.
    2. lollie. holy shit, sucking him out on the river to get a set of sixes!!! that’s ridic! i’d be dying if i were him.
    3. monopoly. i hate that game. i’m a socialist, people! that’s capitalist city. not to mention monopoly and scrabble both get to these points where i just get irritated … trade your freakin’ properties and minus your fucking rogue vowel, people. i am super competitive in board game land, but those two games, i have a really hard time getting all the way to the end of.

    but i’ve definitely grown up with the board games. since this is the second time this has come up in about 24 hours, i think i need to post on this as well.

  • Came on your site looking for information about Nerf Fencing. According to the Google listing someone asked “does Nerf make a fencing set.” I was looking into this because we have a child who, with his friends, is always picking up sticks as swords. We had a Nerf fencing set when our son, now age 24, was young. I couldn’t recall the name of the game so I called Hasbro and talked to someone who identified it as the Nerf Fencing Game. It was discontinued some years ago. Oddly, there is a very funny commercial for this game that is preserved on several web sites where you can play it. Just look up Nerf Fencing which is what the commercial calls it.

    As for Family games, we do this from time to time too. We have even taken a game to a local pizza place and played until our order was up. Scrabble is a good game to play. Cribbage is also a good game to play because it helps kids learn to do arithmetic in their heads. We also play a lot of Hangman which requires only some paper and pencils. Although most people think of Cribbage as a two player game, it can be played by 3 or 4 too. The three person game isn’t as good as the 2, but you can still have fun. Deal three hands of 5 cards and one for the blind. The reason it isn’t as good at the 2 person game is that you have only five cards to make you hand out of and discard one card. The resulting hands usually count fewer points and cribs tend to be lower in value as well. Four or people play as teams of two.

    We play Trivial Persuit, Pictionary, Uno, Manopoly, Therapy and others as well.

  • I have now taken over as a Monopoly brute. I demand respect.

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