(note the wacky family fun, above)
The other day we were sitting around, a little bored, and I almost offered up that the family play a board game together. Luckily, before the words came out of my mouth, I realized the error in my ways, and opted against such a ludicrous notion. But it got me thinking about a piece I wrote a while back for my newspaper column, so while it's not a cold wintry night any more, the sentiments still hold true!
These cold wintry nights of late have conjured up images in my head of cocooning with my brood, crackling fire in the hearth, ready to play Monopoly, Jenga or some other classic Milton-Bradley special.
There’s only one problem: I am a game-aholic. I have a real problem with board games. It’s not that I necessarily have to play them. It’s that if I do play them, I have to win. Now, I have children. And for my kids I am fully prepared to surrender my dying breath, my last drop of blood. A lung, a kidney, any other vital organ. To hurl myself before a runaway bus to ensure their safety and well being. But I’ll be darned if I’m gonna let them beat me at Parcheesi, War, or Scrabble.
I don’t know when this win-at-all-costs notion became so vital to me. I have fond recollections of playing Sorry, Yahtzee, Masterpiece, and Hearts with my family when I was a child. I don’t think that I was fixated on crushing the opponent back then.
Way back when Trivial Pursuit (old edition) was all the rage, I so dominated that game that winning was a non-issue. My brain’s mother load of useless trivial knowledge was finally successfully put to the test with that one. Even Pictionary was fun during its heyday, although my drawing left a bit to be desired.
But somewhere along the line, I developed a bloodlust for winning. Gamesmanship became second mate to kicking butt. Even if it meant leaving a trail of friendships in my wake, like Sherman burning his way to Atlanta.
Lately I’ve taken to enjoying most the games in which you blurt out the answer: that way I can ensure that I am at least the loudest at the game board, even if I don’t actually get to win. So not only do I tick off my fellow players, but I also leave them with a ringing in their ears that retreats only days later. I worry that if this keeps up, I could cause serious injury to someone.
I guess my way of avoiding the heated game-type fervor is by staying away from games altogether. Usually I politely decline and sit with a book whenever my family chooses to play. But every now and then, I succumb to the temptation. One roll of the dice leads to another, and the next thing you know, I’m sucked into the vortex of that old “crush the opponent” mentality. In the word game we play with the kids, I take their word “hair” and make it “chair” and gloat my way to the bank. My God, I’m like an alligator, eating her young.
Things are getting so bad that I fear my family hopes I get swallowed up in some Jumanji-type game in which the players actually become part of the imaginary play. So a herd of elephants will trample me and ensure that I no longer destroy family game night with my antics.
I think the solution to my problem is some sort of 12-step program. Perhaps while I’m at it, I’ll just tackle all the other addictions in my life. Sort of like an Over-Everything Anonymous kind of thing. One thing I’m worried about though: during the downtime at these rehab places, I’m not going to have anything to do. Hmmm, I guess I’ll have to pack a few board games and a deck of cards to bring along…