Wednesday, September 18, 2013

let's talk about Scattergories.

We’ve talked about Candyland, we’ve talked about Monopoly, and I can’t even count how many of my family anecdotes involve cribbage. What’s left on my list of board games with odd back stories? Why, Scattergories, of course!

I must’ve been destined to be an English major/librarian, because I took to Scattergories (a word game) like a fish to water. (Oddly enough, though, I don’t like Scrabble – the ultimate word game. I find Scattergories to be more intellectually challenging, so maybe I’m just a snob.) I couldn’t tell you when I first started playing Scattergories, but believe me, it’s been an awfully long time.

For those of you who are unfortunate enough to have never played Scattergories, let me say this: get thee to Target and buy a copy, and come over to my house immediately so I can show you how to play. You start off with a little Scattergories notebook that has lines numbered one through ten. You put this in a little privacy folder kind of thing so that no one can cheat off you. There are twelve Scattergories lists, and depending on how hardcore you are, you can play the game from start to finish with all twelve lists. You certainly don’t have to if you’re pressed for time, but that’s how the pros do it. Anyway, each of these twelve lists has ten items or phrases on it, and they can be anything: excuses for being late, a woman’s name, something you might find in a kitchen, etcetera. BUT you can’t look at the list items until after you have rolled the gigantic alphabet die to get a letter of the (duh) alphabet.
Ta da!
Then, you go back to your list and think up something for each item on that list that starts with your letter.

Of course, this is all done on a time limit. You have sixty-ish seconds to fill in as many answers as you can. When the time is up, you each read off your answers and get one point for each one. However, if you and one of the other players come up with the same word for a category, no one gets a point.

There are a few ways you can get extra points – let’s say that your category is “fictional character” and the letter is D. If you answer Donald Duck (and no one else does), you can get two points: one for each D. However, this only works if both words are integral to the answer. I used to drive my dad crazy by using adjectives to try and score extra points: if the category was “article of clothing” and the letter was S, I’d write “spectacular sparkling soft silver slippers.” Dad finally laid down the law and told me to knock it off – but I’m pretty sure I can thank Scattergories for improving my vocabulary.

I have had the BEST times playing Scattergories with my friends and family. Bob, Sarah, and I spent hours – yes, hours – playing it at our hangovers (remember the hangovers? they’re like sleepovers, but we don’t sleep – we hang out. hence, hangovers).
This is a big table full of cousins (plus James and Grandma)
playing Scattergories a few days before our wedding.
We know how to PARTY!
My favorite Scattergories story is from a game night with our neighbors Tammy and Bryce and their son Taylor (who is about my age). Mom, Dad, Mitch, Darrah, and I were playing, and Mitch couldn’t have been much older than 10 (this is important). Anyway, we had split into teams: Dad and me, Darrah and Tammy, Mom and Bryce, and Mitch and Taylor. So the category was “parts of the body,” and the letter was P. So what’s a part of the body that starts with the letter P? I know where your mind went – that’s right where all of ours went, too. When the time came to read our answers, we went around the circle: Tammy and Darrah had written pinkie, Dad and I had answered pancreas, and Bryce and Mom came up with pupil. Taylor and Mitch were the last ones to share their answer, and no one wanted to be the one to read it. “You say it!” “No, YOU say it!” Obviously, they had written penis, and nobody wanted to be the one to read it aloud. Finally, Mitch said it: “PUSSY!”

We promptly died laughing.

So Scattergories is not only educational – clearly, none of us had thought of THAT body part starting with a P! – but obviously a blast. Imagine how much fun it would be with drinks.

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