Writings and Reflections

Party Pooper


by Lloyd B. Abrams

Two hours is my time limit for a party or a get together. After that I grow antsy and start nagging my wife to leave, unless we’re at home and then I’m really stuck. I think I have ADD when it comes to parties, except that saying that I have ADD in such a context is cripplingly naive and downright stupid.

Worse, I can’t stand playing games at these gatherings. Trivial Pursuit? Monopoly? Clue? I hate them all. Why? Wait … you’ll find out.

One time, we were playing Trivial Pursuit and a close member of our family displayed a rather incredible encyclopedic knowledge. We were soon way behind.

We quietly speculated that he had memorized the answers on the well-worn stack of Trivial Pursuit cards being used. To “(ahem) change our luck,” we asked to switch to a bunch of pristine-looking cards further back in the tray. He was reluctant, of course, but we insisted. When his knowledge appeared to be as random as ours, we had satisfactorily proven our theory. He was hurt and disappointed when we claimed we were tired and needed to go home. I wanted to confront him about this but I never did.

During a game of Monopoly some years ago, we became sure that a friend was fingering and then plunking down the dice while we weren’t paying close enough attention due, in part, to our intake of burnt cannibas. He owned Boardwalk and Park Place, the three yellows next to Go To Jail, and the four railroads, and began picking up a $500 bill and the collected fees and taxes when he landed on Free Parking, which was our rule modification. I couldn’t take it any longer. I tossed my money and deeds onto the board and yelled, “Here! Why’n’t take it all?”

“Why? What’d I do?”

“Gimme a break. You’re a fuckin’ cheater! I saw how you were screwing with the dice.”

After, he was no longer our friend. How could he be?

And with unintelligibly cryptic notes and markings on your official Clue memo pad and the variety of characters and rooms and weapons, who really gives a good goddamn about accusing or ruling out Professor Plum in the conservatory with a dagger if you’re working on your fourth Corona Extra?

At some point during a party, the energy level will sag and then somebody with good intentions might announce, usually with an overly cheery voice and an overly bright smile, “How about playing a game?”

Sometimes it’s my freakin’ wife making the suggestion even though she knows fully well that I hate party games. I can then be counted on to audibly groan. I just can’t help it. A few heads might turn my way but my wife’s head snaps around like Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist, and I’m shot with the most savage and evil stink eye imaginable. I shake my head and plead at her with my eyes but I’m always overruled.

Unless I am overwhelmed by senescence, I might remember to revert to plan B. This means (1) looking pained and uttering, “Oh my stomach … it must’ve been something I ate”; (2) feigning the onset of a bout of diarrhea; then (3) rushing to the bathroom; to (4) hunker down with my smartphone to play Words with Friends with my online friends. At least with them, I can shut the game down when I’ve had enough.

But I’ve got to confess something – something I’m loath to admit. I actually do enjoy Fictionary, a parlor game akin to Balderdash, in which you can score points by making up the most plausible, proper and good-sounding definition of a word nobody knows. One participant, called the picker, leafs through a comprehensive dictionary and finds, for example, the word milesimo, which we all affirm we’ve never heard of. I might propose that it’s an intermediary rank for a Spanish Civil War combatant or a notification on the mountain trail up to Machu Picchu. But we’ll subsequently discover that a milesimo is actually a former Chilean monetary unit. For a fiction writer or an inveterate liar or a sociopath, the truth is in the details.

And in Fictionary, the best bullshitter always wins.

Rev 9 / October 11, 2016

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October 2016…Copyright © 2016, Lloyd B. Abrams
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