Saturday, July 09, 2005

Games People Play

So my family loves playing games. Or more correctly, we like competing against each other for bragging rights. We have played everything, from Pictionary to Ping Pong to bocce. We play tough, we play hard, we have absolutely no mercy. Too bad if you are having an off day or your back hurts. We will seize every advantage we can, and if you are gonna complain, don't play. I'm not sure where our ruthlessness comes from, but I can tell you that I am one heck of a Connect Four player due to the fact my late grandfather would never "let" anyone win, not even a 6 year old. If anyone beat him (which was rarely) it was an honest win.

Bocce is one of our favorites. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it is an Italian version of lawn bowling. You have 2 teams of 2. One member of each stands on both ends of the long, rectangular court, although it really can be almost any strip of grass if you aren't playing in an official tournament. Yes, they do have official tournaments, as frightening as that sounds. So, there are 2 teams, one that throws red balls, and one that throws green balls. The balls are hard and heavy for their size. Except for the yellow one. A player throws the yellow ball, which is much smaller and lighter than the others. Then the object is to get as many of your red or green balls as close as you can to the yellow one. A point is awarded for each ball that is closer than the other team's. So one team wins, and depending on how good your opponent was, you could score either 1 point or all four. The game usually goes up to 21.

Oh, it sounds tame and boring, but not when my family is in action. My grandfather and grandmother were avid bocce players back in the day, and I can't even count how many bocce tournaments I was taken to as a child. But we are loud, we try to knock each other's balls across the lawn. We complain endlessly when we think we have been cheated. We have been known to hold formal protests and demand an actual tape measure to make sure that the right call has been made. We get mad, we high five, we do victory dances to piss the other team off.

Same with ping pong. My sister just got a table last year, as she is the hostess for almost every get together we have due to her proximity to the beach and large house. Both my sister and I were camp counselors, so we have years of experience behind us. My mom used to play tennis, so she is a natural. My dad kicked my butt last week on the 4th, and I have no idea how he got so good. Our favorite thing is actually doubles, the real way, when you have to hit every other ball. It sounds weird, but it can be somewhat draining to play doubles ping pong.

Actually, we are probably at our worst at board/party games. Perhaps it is the proximity to our competitors, being all crammed in around a table. For whatever reason, our Italian heritage comes on full display with waving hand gestures, open-palm slaps to the forehead, and deafening yells of both triumph and defeat. My sister and I are practically unbeatable as Pictionary partners, she once guessed that I drew a dryer when I only drew a box with a circle on top. My dad almost always wins at Trivial Pursuit. Hubba-hubba and myself have the winning record as Scattergories partners. It gets really ugly when we play Uno, I don't even want to talk about it.

A good time is had by all when my family bonds together over games, and that is exactly what we are doing. You really get to know a person when you play a game with them. Whether you discover a short fuse, or get an intimate earful of their highest decibel capability, it is something to remember. Of course, the most fun is winning, then you get to rub it in. At least until the next time.


Anvilcloud said...

We're the opposite -- very non-competitive. We mostly play TP when we get toegther.

Piece of Work said...

Oh, we love games, too! Mostly indoor games, though--since we are most often together during the holiday (winter!) season. We have such fun--and sometimes big fights over Scattegories etc. My husband's family doesn't play games at all, and I wish they did. YOu are right, it's a totally bonding experience.

Bethany said...

I love playing games too. Real games with pieces you can touch...not video games. Which, unfortunately, is what my boyfriend prefers.

Suzanne said...

I'm not terribly competitive, but I like games. My family used to play pinochle, but that tradition has faded as our family dynamics changed. I'm looking forward to starting some game traditions with my kids. Once we get past the Candyland stage, that is.

Heather said...

Ah, memories. My family only has small bursts of competitiveness. I have a painful memory of sitting out in the field on a big rock for about an hour because I was so mad at my brother after we fought over a card game. Fortunately, those moments are few and far between.

My oldest 2 daughters are finally getting into some games that are fun to play - like Settlers and Life. Beats Candyland!

WordsRock said...

Oh our family plays games ruthlessly under the guise of sportsmanship! Holidays are built around playing games.

One thing I distinctly remember when growing up: my father would play games with us, but no one was allowed to quit until HE won at least one round. I come by my competitiveness honestly I guess. :)