Game quoteThe other night I called my sister, Laura, to ask her how to play a certain game (Queen Bee).  This was not the first time I had called her about a game.  Laura and her husband David have become my go-tos when it comes to games.  While I love to play games, especially card games, I am terrible at remembering how to play and the rules.  (One rule I NEVER forget though is that play does not begin until a card is drawn nor does it end until a discard is played.  I threw a king size, Larry Barber temper tantrum over friends who seemed to think {wrongly} that when it was their turn they did not have to draw to start playing).

One of my very, very favorite card games is Booray.  Actually, that may or may not be it’s name since I have no idea how to spell it.  It is a game that Mother and Daddy brought home from somewhere and taught us.  It is a progressive rummy game played with as many people as you can crowd around a table and many, many decks of cards.  I have changed the name to Barbooray since there are numerous games of that same sort of name and none of them are the game I love.

This was a traditional after Thanksgiving game for years and could get very raucous as the game wore on.  We have played with at least ten people and five or six decks of cards.  It can go on for hours (funny, I will play this for hours but I HATE Monopoly because it lasts for days).  Throw in numerous glasses of wine/cocktails/toddies and you get the picture.  As an aside, Daddy could either be more fun to play with or voted most likely to be shot over a card game.  Any time I am around family, you can bet we will play a game.

I can’t remember a time when our family did not play games.  We played board games, card games and dominoes.  We played Parcheesi, Rich Uncle, Scrabble (Wesley had to have a timer or he would never put down a tile), Tripoli, and Clue.   We wore out numerous decks of Rook cards and Crazy Eights, Hearts, Spades, Gin, and Poker used up plenty more decks of standard cards.  Not to mention various forms of dominoes and of course, Yatzee.    Two of my most precious treasures are the green jadite domino set we played with ever since I can remember (even though one is burnt, probably from an LB temper tantrum) and a Yatzee score pad with Mother and Daddy’s scores in Mother’s handwriting.

Laura and I played at least a billion games of Jacks where we coined the term “Nors” since we could not waste time on saying “No overs” when the jacks were thrown in a really hard mess.  And we honed our concentration and planning skills on just how to pick up a stick playing Pick Up Sticks.  Speaking of concentration, we played that game with just regular decks of cards long before the actual game came out.  And Laura, Larry and I would come to blows playing Slap Jacks as kids.

In the 70s, Rook was the craze in Mulberry.  I don’t think there was ever a weekend that there was not a Rook game at someone’s house.  It was the social activity that even young couples could afford to do.  The only expense was a deck of cards, maybe some Cokes and sometimes snacks or dinner.  We and our friends would play for most of the night, talking and laughing and making plans for the future.  Games would rotate around different homes so no one was always host.

Now, I am a terrible domino player and I blame that on being a girl.  Well, a girl in Mulberry, Arkansas in the 60s and on into the 70s.  See, there was what was called the Pool Hall/Domino Parlor.  It was just catty-corner across the street from the drug store and it was a MENS ONLY place.  I never ventured more than a foot or two inside the door.  During the summers, the two doors going into the building were open so some of the past winter’s air could be let out.  It was always dark, dank and smokey.  When a female of any age entered, there would be dead silence and stares from hostile male eyes (or at least that is how it seemed).  It was so male dominated, that Mother would send us kids over to get Daddy rather than go herself.  I guess she figured they would not throw out a little girl but might try a grown woman.  So, short story long, I never developed the domino skill.  That and I had to count each dot to tell what was played…..

And that is another thing, I can’t (and HATE to play with people who do) tell what cards/dominoes are left just by knowing what has been played.  We have a friend that we play games with that used to throw down a hand of cards after just a few rounds because he “knew” what everyone had and how the game would play out.  Did I mention I inherited Daddy’s ability to throw king size temper tantrums?  Yes, even at this age, I will cause a scene at a game table if the rules are not followed.  By golly, if you pick up the cards, you play the game and if you play the game, you play it right.

My kids love to play games.  When Luke was a kid, the game of Scatagorries came out.  That was the one thing he wanted for Christmas one year and we play and played that game.  Even now he loves to play.  With his vision problems, I have made him his own set of “cards” with big print so we can keep on playing.  He loves Yatzee too and we have had some great rounds of Gin.  He plays games like Mother, calmly and methodically.  Amanda is quite a game player too, but plays more like her Pappy.

Mexican Train Dominoes is the game here in Hattiesburg now.  I can remember playing a game we called Mexican Dominoes with regular sets, but now there are really fancy ones with little plastic trains and a wheel to set up the train lines.  Depending on how high the “doubles” in the set you use, this game can go on forever too.  I really like it because it is a game you have to think about, but not so much you can’t talk and eat (really important to me) while playing.  Fortunately, in the packaged sets, the dots are various colors so I don’t have to count them to see what goes next, I just grab the right color.  I think I mentioned my domino handicap.

One game I never have been able to learn how to play was Bridge.  Mother and Daddy loved Bridge and played it often.  And I really did want to learn how to play because it always seemed so “grown up” and having a Bridge party seemed so cool.  They tried to teach me several times and each time it ended up the same.  Mother would shriek that I could not be her’s because she would never have a daughter so dense that she couldn’t figure out how to bid.  Daddy would equally declare that I was not his since he would never have a daughter so clueless that she could not figure out how to follow a lead.  Lessons were always a few years apart in the hopes that I might eventually grow a Bridge brain.  I never did.  I think it takes the same sort of thinking process that Chess takes and I could never learn how to play that either.

Come to think of it, I can’t play Checkers (or Tic-Tac-Toe either).  I can play Chinese Checkers, but not very well.  More than once I have jostled the table to make the marbles roll off, just being honest here.   Games of strategy are just not for me.  Nort talks about the joys of playing Risk, War and Battleship.  Nope, not for me.  Granted, I’ve never played any of them, but I know that I am just too much of a girl to play any of those kinds of game.

Now that there are some great games on the computers (not video games, those are a whole ‘nother creature) I love to play various forms of solitaire.  Oh, and Mahjong.  I love that!  I have seen beautiful tile sets for the real physical game, but I have never seen it played in real life.  It seems so exotic to me and I would love the chance to play an actual game, but will settle for what I do have.

What games do you play, love or hate?  I know that different personalities seem to gravitate to different types of games.  What is popular in your neck of the woods?  How many decks of cards do you have?  We have dozens. (I bought a beautiful old set of Bridge cards at an estate sale, not to play of course, but just because they were pretty).  I have shelves full of board games, how about you?  Do you stick to the classics or do you try out each new one that comes along?  There are so many games that are so much fun, what do you pull out first when people come over for game night.  Yes, I really do want to know.  I am always on the look-out for a game I can actually win……

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