Sunday, September 25, 2005

It was Colonel McMustard in that one place with the thing. Do I win?

I've had to explain on multiple occasions this week that I have no competitive drive to speak of, a deficiency, I think, resulting from my being an only child. I didn't grow up playing games — card games, board games, outdoor picnicky games — because, as only children the world over have piteously discovered, there are only so many games one can play alone.

Sure, there's Solitaire, but... really? My grandmother plays Solitaire. Cross that one off the cool list. No, when I was little and looking to while away the hours, I favored the modification of multiple-player games over ones that were specifically designed for one person. This naturally ruled out games that didn't involve a certain amount of chance.

For instance, I always wanted to own Guess Who, that game where you and your opponent each have a character card, and you ask questions ("Does your guy wear glasses?" "Is your guy a chick?" etc...) to narrow down the suspects and be the first to guess the other player's character. There was no way that was working with one person. Same with Battleship. But games like Trouble and Sorry— basically anything with dice or spinners or random card-drawing — worked fine.

I have to think my parents were kind of taunting me with some of the games they bought me. OK, I practically begged for Clue: Master Detective,* but they had to know when they got it for me that I couldn't play it with two dummy hands. It wasn't just that that was patently not fun; it just didn't work. Period.

I'll take that one as a parenting oversight. But buying me a Ouija board? Now that's just plain cruel. ("You're moving it!" "You know I'm not, because you're me. Quit talking to yourself and conjure some spirits, bi-otch!")

I also had Monopoly (not impossible to play alone, but not fun), Mall Madness,** and this kickass game called Heartthrob that I could never play alone because it required you to guess which of three hunks your opponents would choose to "dance with," "date," and "go steady with." (I always liked Ricky, the one with glasses, but I never got a chance to tell anyone.)

I never had Girl Talk, or Life, or Trivial Pursuit, or Twister (talk about the worst game to play alone ever!) and for that I feel kind of deprived. And that's not even mentioning the fact that I'm scarred for game-playing life now. I hate playing games because I'm not sure I know how to lose gracefully.

This brings up an odd phenomenon, though, one that I have other only-child testimony to back up: when you're playing a game, you against yourself, there's always one self you favor over the other to win. Like, you'll think, Today my favorite color is pink, and the closest gamepiece to pink is red, so I want my Red Self to beat my Blue Self in this game of Sorry. And then, if you're me at least, you'll manipulate the game to make your Red Self win. (Oh, that roll wasn't fair, Blue Self, you lose a turn. Sucka! ... Wait a tic...)

So, yeah. If you ask me to partake in a MarioKart tournament or a game of Euchre, or even TV Tag (which, by all accounts, I would be very good at) don't be surprised when I turn you down. Ask to watch me play Tetris, however... well, that's another story for another post. A post about addiction and hallucination...

* I remember wanting Clue: Master Detective specifically because Fran and Ally, my older, British, across-the-street neighbors had it and I thought it was the shit. I was always Miss Peach, who didn't exist in the original Clue, but who was prettier than all the other female characters and wore a big wide-brimmed straw hat. Also? I remember pronouncing "lead pipe" like "leed pipe" for the longest time.

** I always used to get so frustrated with Mall Madness because it took literally forever to set up, and then the game only lasted a few minutes. I could usually convince my dad to play with me; I'd spend all this time setting it up, and he'd beat me within the span of ten minutes. Every. Time. (Because "the object is to get in, get what you need, and get out of the mall.") Hey, I just wanted to browse a little, OK?