I have feelers out to two people who are certain to give us new insights into the exciting world of gnomes. But while we’re waiting for them to return my phone calls, I’ll turn to something else that occurred to me today while I was supposed to be working.
My part-time gig is the first job I’ve ever had that I can do without even thinking about it, so it’s sort of refreshing in that way, if you want to call rolling a little cart around a sweltering warehouse refreshing.
Today, as I deftly sidestepped a careening forklift, it started me thinking about my grandkids galloping down the hallway during a recent visit. Later, as I used my finger to remove the 1,417th price label of the morning, I started thinking about how I’d seen my grandkids play games by swiping their fingers across the screens of their parents’ iPhone or iPad. Finally, as I was thinking about how little money I was making, I somehow thought of this:
Yes, the combination of children, games and money started me thinking about the board games of my youth, and how I miss those days and believe my own kids and grandkids are missing out.
Growing up, my sister and I had a ton of board games, and we played them all the time. We also kept them in pristine condition, which is why I still have some of them here, and in pretty good shape.
Monopoly was probably the king of them all, but we only played on rainy afternoons because we knew it would take all day before a winner was declared. Of course I had no idea then — as a child living in Texas — that I was playing a game about Atlantic City. But even if I had known, I might not have seen it as an omen for the direction my life would lead.
Spy Detector was a heck of a game that was bought for me by my old Aunt Ocie when we went to visit her in Corpus Christi, Texas. What’s not to like about a game that has a cast of characters like this?
The game features a nifty lie-detector gadget, shown above, that I wish I’d thought to use before agreeing to come to work in New Jersey.
Then there was the game simply called Life, which was not unlike Monopoly in that one person got rich while everybody else ended up in grinding poverty. In Life you followed a labyrinthine path to fortune or doom, while in Monopoly you just went round and round in circles until somebody broke your spirit. I’m still trying to decide which is a more realistic portrayal of reality.
There were a couple of other games I no longer have except in my memories. Maybe a relative has them somewhere, and maybe they’ll read this and ‘fess up.
The Green Ghost game I recall as being heavily advertised, and I just had to have it for Christmas that year. I recall it as being pretty lame, but it had some cool glow-in-the-dark game pieces that were probably radioactive.
Then there was the Masterpiece game, which taught me more about the world of fine art than I knew before or since. It was truly a great game, and I hope someone in my extended family still has it.
• Risk: I got this later in life and conquered the world starting from Madagascar. It made my wife cry, and we no longer have it. She probably destroyed it!
• Go to the Head of the Class: You got to pose as one of these vapid game pieces at left, while answering tough questions from the teacher. No Child Left Behind may have been a death-blow for this classic game since nowadays you could never declare a winner.
• Candy Land: I lived in abject terror of getting stuck in the Molasses Swamp.
• Scrabble: The only game I remember playing regularly with my parents, and I still have our old set. I remember my father making up words and my mother storming into the next room to fetch back the dictionary to refute his attempt at a triple word score.
They were all fun, and I think they brought people together in a way that electronic games can’t match.
Finally, speaking of games, don’t forget that we’ll soon be playing one of our own, the one where YOU participate in the naming of this nameless blog. I’ve already been swamped with cards and letters even before kicking off the official contest, but don’t worry, your voice will be heard! Details to come in a future post.