Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Playing games Aardvark style

My family has always liked to play games. But for some reason, we're all just a little bit ornery. I know that's a stretch, but trust me, we are. And so we don't always play to win...at least the way the rules SAY you're supposed to. That doesn't mean we cheat. It just means that you sometimes measure winning on a different scale.

Take the game Aggravation, for instance. The object is to get all your marbles out of your base and around the board into the 'home' spaces. At least that's what the rules say. When the Aardvark's play Aggravation, we take the name literally. This means that if you have a choice between moving one of your marbles into the safety of 'home' or bumping another player's marble back to their base, you always bump the other player. ALWAYS.

It's a little different style of play when everyone is competing not to win, but to harass the other players as much as possible. Mrs. A has learned to play this way too as a matter of survival. Once, I was not able to attend a Sunday School fellowship, but sent Mrs. A on without me. They played UNO and all I heard the next Sunday was how mean and vicious she played. Heh. Wimps.

I once thought that a game of Mille Bornes was going to cause TWO divorces: my parents and my next to oldest brother and his wife. Naturally, the play was the boys against the girls. The object of Mille Bornes is for your team to collect mileage cards that add up to 1,000 miles. But before you can play mileage cards, you must first have a green light - or "go" card. The boys figured out that if they held all the "go" cards in their hands, they could control the outcome of the game. And so they started collecting them every chance they got, without even having to talk about it - they just knew what the other one was doing. It didn't take too long before they held every available "go" card and had made the game unwinnable by either team. But they didn't tell the girls what they were doing and so soon, the girls started to get frustrated. They had 950 miles and only needed to play one of the many mileage cards they held in their hands to win the game. But they could never draw a go. The longer it went on, the bigger the boys grinned. Until the girls finally figured it out. The boys won what you might call a Pyrrhic victory. The price was high. The Mille Bornes cards were never touched again after that night.

So, as you can imagine, one of the things my dad likes to do when he's feeling well is to play games. Dominos sometimes, but usually UNO. We don't keep score, just kind of a running tally in our heads of who's won how many hands. And, of course, we play Aardvark style. Playing UNO Aardvark style usually involves playing the nasty cards every chance you get (naturally), but also means that when you play a wild card and change colors, you ALWAYS call the color you know the other guy is out of, whether or not you hold any of that color yourself. And you talk. A lot. If you've won two or three hands in a row and then lose one, you say, "Well, I thought I should let you win one so you wouldn't start crying." And of course the other guy responds with, "Let me win? Why, I've been in control of every hand we've played so far. I've just been stringing you along, setting you up for the big one." Etc., etc., etc.

After an extended period of play, my step-mom has been known to ask, from the next room, "Boys! Do I need to separate you?"

And of course, the last time I was there was no different. Except for an odd realization. My dad had pretty much buzzed all his hair off, and with his wrinkles and his ears that stick out (they always have, but you didn't notice so much when he had hair), I was struck by this

...

I'm playing UNO with Yoda!

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