Games people play

Remember the olden days, when there would be commercials for board games? And board games aren’t to be confused with what most kids today would call “bored” games, because they aren’t played on a phone or tablet or television using remote controls or goggles or whatever the kids are doing these days….

These board games were used to promote quality time and bonding. Families gathered around the game “Operation,” where the goal was to remove that funny looking guy’s organs without hearing that annoying buzzing sound if you touched the side. Or Monopoly, the game where future embezzlers were first known to hone their craft as the “banker.” Young real estate moguls (possibly our current president) would buy up properties and build houses and hotels in the hopes of having everyone having to pay up when they landed on Park Place.

I still remember trying to have family game night. I had fond memories of my “original” family playing games. Chutes and Ladders comes to mind, but my memory isn’t what it used to be. I thought that I could incorporate those memories with my own kids. This was almost as successful as “new food Wednesday.” We would start off hopeful, but after a few minutes — sometimes even seconds — there would be screaming, pieces would get scattered, directions were lost, someone started crying (usually me) and all of those good intentions were sent to their room (also, usually me). Good memories. If you ever see the closet in my family room, it is filled with dreams of board games past — and the actual games, most of which are missing several pieces, but I just can’t bring myself to throw them out. Especially now that Toys R Us is out of business. Not sure what one thing has to do with the other, but I digress.

Back to games. As any parent knows, it is important to keep your young children occupied, especially when waiting on lines — lines in the supermarket, lines waiting for doctors’ appointments, lines waiting for tickets for the merry go round. Whatever the line is, if you don’t keep those monkeys busy, it could end very badly. Especially for the strangers around you.

So I invented, and I say invented because I have never heard of anyone else playing this game, the animal game. How do you play? you ask. Here is an example. “I am thinking of an animal that has a long neck,” you say to the first child. If he or she answers correctly, they get to give the next clue about another animal. If they aren’t old enough to ask these questions on their own, you will quickly learn that when the question they ask is the same one you just asked them. You ask the next child a question. “I am thinking of an animal that is black and white and very smelly.” I am hoping you get the point. Feel free to use this game at your next party.

Hopefully, your children grow up, get more mature, and are able to wait on lines without you needing to entertain them. The animal game is only effective for so long. But what can be really wonderful is when your child is turning 18 and the two of you, together, come up with a game that entertains both of you (and any other family members who might want to play). The other day, son #3 and I were at a Mets game. Yes, I spend a lot of time with him (one more year and then he is off to the Holy Land.) Yes, the Mets lost. Yes, there was almost two hours of traffic getting home. Anyway, at the game we are looking around, and of course, we see several people wearing yarmulkes. This is an entertaining pastime for my family, especially when you are in baseball stadiums in various parts of the country, when seeing a person with a yarmulke is a total anomaly. So out of my mouth comes, “Hey, let’s play Spot the Yid!” and without missing a beat, son #3 said, “Sponsored by Liebers.” (Liebers being a company that makes kosher snacks.) After the game was named, every time we would see one of our Jewish brethren or sisterthren (what is the female equivalent of brethren?) we would make a “ding” sound. Ok, maybe we spend too much time together (NEVER!!!!) but we did have a lot of fun playing the game, especially since the game the Mets were playing was not as much fun.

Wishing all of you a wonderful last weekend of summer, and may all of your game nights be more successful than ours!

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck hopes no one is offended by the name “Spot the Yid.” If anyone wants to help us develop an app for it, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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