Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Trivial pursuits

Once upon a time every house in suburbia had a game closet. At least, that's what I've gleaned from rummaging through the closets of the deceased on my estate sale rounds. Is that still true or has the concept become completely outmoded—displaced by the media room or just the computer (or phone)?

In my youth, we kept the games stored on the top shelf of the upstairs hall closet, along with linens, lampshades and the entirety of my father's wardrobe (Victorian architects were not big on storage space). We would occasionally play board games as a family—Scrabble, Monopoly, Parchese, Yahtzee, Boggle, dominoes—but mostly a whole lot of progressive rummy. I also remember playing Pick up Sticks and Sorry! and Mastermind and Battleship with my brother. That all went away when he got into TSR role-playing games like D&D and Top Secret. I gave them a try but was mostly bored after the initial thrill of rolling my character traits and creating a dossier. At some point my attitude became, why waste time playing any sort of games when I can just be rereading Anne McCaffrey novels?

That's still pretty much sums up my feelings, but you know, when you become a parent you get roped into doing all kinds of things you never planned on doing, and in my case that would include playing award-winning, supposedly-cognitive-skill-honing games. If you're my husband, you just play the games because you think they're fun (weirdo!). So we've got a pretty extensive library of all the Connect 4s and I Spys, Slamwiches and Zingoes, along with a whole bunch of vintage board games I've picked up at estate sales for two or three bucks a pop. If the boxes are aesthetically pleasing, I find them difficult to resist. Just last Friday, at the estate sale of a very dedicated Sunday school teacher, I bought first editions of Clue, Skunk, a chess set with Renaissance-style chessmen and a WWI game called Dogfight . I can't imagine playing any of them except maybe Clue—but I expect Lindsay will play all of them, though I wish him luck trying to convince our daughters that WWI flying games produced by American Heritage are cool.

Anyway, to accommodate my perversity (i.e., buying games I'll never play) and the rest of the family's genuine affection for games, I was recently forced to convert our linen closet into a game closet. Not just one or two shelves—the whole damnn thing. Who needs a linen closet when you've got four bathrooms with plenty of storage in each? (Apologies my NYC friends-but you realize infinite closet space is one of the perks of moving to Texas.)

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