There are few things more delightful than a game night in a gated community, so when I got the invitation, I had to put down my Sunday Times crossword puzzle and go at once. I knew it was going to take me an extra minute at the gate, so I told my fellow players to go ahead and start without me. I was especially excited about playing Apples to Apples, so they struck up around of Scattergories while I was on my way.
After playing a round of “convince the guard,” I drove up to my friend’s brick circle driveway and stepped inside. It was the final moment in the Scattegories game and tensions were high.
A quick recap on the rules of Scattegories: Players have a list of categories next to a column of blanks. Someone rolls a 26-sided die to choose a letter. The players must then use that letter to fill out each of the categories. So, if the categories (of which there are 12, not the three in this example) were “a dessert,” “an animal” and “a pet name,” and the letter was “C.” Someone might answer “cake,” “coatimundi” and “cuddle buns,” respectively. If you choose a word that no one else chooses, you get a point. And like any game, the person with the most points wins.
I walked in and two alpha males were locked in intense competition. They were tied, the last two to speak their words and whoever got this last point would win, or the game would go into overtime.
The final category was “things you’re afraid of” and the letter was “n.”
The penultimate player said: “Ninjas.”
The crowd of 10 runner ups cheered.
The final player looked at his board. Looked at me. Then offered this. “I got nothing.”
“You should have just written ‘nothing’,” one of the players said.
Game night went on. Apples to Apples went off like gangbusters. And my saddle shoe pumps were a hit.
I noticed that the trumped Scattergories player was quite a smart game player. In every game that we played, he came out the winner, so I was surprised that he folded so easily on the first game.
On my way out, I checked his Scattergories pad which was still out and under his chair. He did have a word for “things you’re afraid of.” And it did start with an “n.”
It goes without saying that I was upset. Here was my chance to prove I was one of the crowd and I failed. I had a chance to walk into a room, make everyone comfortable with who I was and that did not occur. Something about the smart Peter Pan collar on my blouse, my hostess gift of saffron sea salts and my discussion of the Fall Fitzgerald Festival was still wanting for perfection.
The poor player. Had I played my game right, he would have felt total confidence playing his. I’mpolishing off my pearls for the next game night and bringing my copy of Ghetto-opoly. That should make things easier for everyone.