While packing up my cluttered room during our move, I had stumbled upon the neat, clean boxes of old board games that my sisters and I used to play. I had some of the best from our collection: Sorry, Husker Du, Guess Who, Trivial Pursuit, along with some uncommon ones: Girl Talk, M.A.S.H., and Mother’s Helper. Still shelved at my parents’ house were the classics: Monopoly, Hungry, Hungy Hippos, and CLUE.
I remember when I had brought them back to my house, only to find that forcing my husband to play wasn’t nearly as fun as having my older sisters together again to reminisce with me. The games were slow and monotonous compared to board games of today such as Cranium or Apples to Apples (our new favorites.) My husband whined and complained the whole time, and while I tried to feign excitement and suspense, I too, was bored of these boring board games.
So again they were boxed up and put back into storage, where they would collect more cobwebs and dust than they had when I first pulled them out from the basement closet at my parents’ house.
All the memories these board games ignited in my mind led me to one in particular – a somewhat recent memory between my husband and I. A few years ago we had been cleaning out his closet at his parents’ house when we discovered his old Monopoly set. It was in impeccable condition – all of the perfect green and red houses were still enclosed in their tiny plastic zip-loc bags, red-orange chance cards and bright-yellow community chest cards still in his possession. The money was neatly lined up in its carrier, perfectly aligned for the “bank teller” to conveniently resume their position. And even all the original metal pieces – the dog, the hat, the thimble, iron, ship, horse with rider, shoe, car, wheelbarrow and cannon – all still tagged and bagged in their original plastic bags.
I couldn’t believe the memories that lay across that big, bright board, all the memories contained in those tiny, silver pieces. If I were to play the game with my sisters today, I knew immediately the pieces they would chose. I knew who would inevitably obtain the Boardwalk/Park Place combo, and which one would proudly acquire a humble hotel on Baltic Avenue. The day my husband and I retrieved his Monopoly game from the closet, I dragged him away from his Need for Speed video games and forced him to play with me. And with his acceptance, I introduced him to the strange tradition of my sister and I: The Crappy Twenty.
Always in my family’s collection of games there existed a less-than-desirable playing piece, card, or item that was damaged in some way, shape or form. Whether it was a “Number Two” Sorry card that was stained green from spilled kool-aid, or a favorite Chutes and Ladders player that (in an act of revenge) had had its eyes poked out with a pencil, there was always one particular piece in a set that no one wanted. In the cherished Monopoly set at my parents house, the defect could be found in a single, green $20 bill. Somehow this bill had become so disfigured and discolored that it was now barely recognizable as such. The game inside the game was to continue to pass this bill to the other players (either secretly or openly) and basically not be the one who has it in their possession – as this person was the player of ridicule throughout their duration of ownership of the appropriately named “Crappy Twenty.”
When we broke open my husband’s set and I deliciously tore open every perfectly unopened package and untouched piece, I knew I had to introduce a crappy twenty. While usually the despicable items would develop of their own accord, the perfection of this set wasn’t going to allow for that, especially since I knew that my husband was not about to rack up the years of game-playing that this set deserved. So to fast-forward to the desirable outcome, I turned my back on him in the middle of our game, and unknown to him proceeded to destroy one crisp, new $20 monopoly bill. I crumbled it up in my hands, I sprinkled water on it, I tore pieces out of it.
Perhaps I took it one step too far. In my excitement, I grabbed a lighter off of his dresser. I intended only to “slightly char” or brown the tips of it. But in my attempt I accidently lit the twenty on fire. I immediately panicked and turned around to face him, waving this bill and sending sparks floating all over the room.
He immediately grabbed it to put it out, but not before the crappy twenty had officially become what it was intended to become – a charred, discolored, disfigured mess. My husband thought I was crazy – not only did I purposely destroy something of out of his flawless set, but I also almost started a fire in his house!! But it created a memory. As soon as we were finished and I had placed that twenty back in the pile, I had re-created a tradition and introduced a memory of our own.
What memories do you have of old board games?