By Matt Geiger
My favorite activity is gathering with friends to talk, for hours on end, about whatever we please.
The conversations can be about anything – hopefully Peter the Great, competitive axe throwing, or my daughter – but they all have one thing in common: they are freestyle. There are no written cues, no cards, no dice and no board determining what we can and cannot do or say. And, aside from the general kind of social scorekeeping we all do in our heads whenever we’re in social situations, there is no one allocating points.
Nothing brings these enjoyable evenings to a screeching halt as quickly as party games. They always makes me feel like someone who, on the verge of a spontaneous romantic encounter, sees his partner head to the hallway closet and return with a vast assortment of gear, complete with special chairs, whips, handcuffs, Viagra and other aides.
“Shouldn’t we at least try to do it ourselves, first?” a reasonable person would respond. “I mean, shouldn’t all these things be a last resort if we find out we can’t get the job done on our own?”
These games come in many forms, but they tend to have names like “Befuddle…” or “Incoherence!”
They have subtitles that only serve to further confuse me: “The card game where you learn the mating calls of each state bird!” or “The board game where nouns are verbs, and adjectives are golden tamarin marmosets in estrus!”
I try avoid them the way most people avoid contracting malaria, and I often check the closets at friends’ houses to see what awful nonsense lurks within. Many parents, I’ve been told, ask other parents if they have any firearms in the house, and if so if they are adequately secured, before bringing small children over for playdates. I do the same, but with these dreadful, colorful affronts to the fact that we all have a limited amount of time on this planet.
My wife, Greta, says I dislike them because I always lose, and therefore am not acquainted with the sweet nectar of party game victory. She is only partially right.