Tuesday, July 14, 2009

the game

it all started in january, 2003. a saturday. we'd been to phoenix for some reason or other, then, on the way back to flagstaff the blizzard hit. driving snow, driving rain, driving nightmare. oh, we made it home just find and dandy. a slow, cautious trip. but a safe trip.

and it just happened to be the night of scooter's winter formal. he was just 15. not driving yet. and he'd planned on going to the dance with cat, a girl who, while not a "girlfriend", had been a good friend for quite a while. and she'd already bought a dress for this affair. and he'd bought a new shirt and tie.

we lived in kachina village, a quaint wooded development just off i-17, eight miles south of flagstaff. cat lived in mountainaire, a similar development on the opposite side of i-17. i didn't mind so much driving over to pick up cat, but really dreaded the thought of setting out for flagstaff in the still roaring blizzard. for now it was much colder, much darker than it had been on our way up from phoenix, and the snow had been falling for a much longer time frame and accumulation measured near a foot.

but, snowplows were out, and armed with front wheel drive and a strong constitution, hon and i decided we'd drive the kids into town for the dance, then hang out in town until the dance was over. thereby eliminating one potentially treacherous trip. we dropped the kids off at the du bois center on the nau campus and crept over to a shopping center nearby.

we knew we couldn't kill two hours at the shopping center at that time of night. and we were right. but barnes and noble had just recently opened a new store a short distance from there, so we decided to brave driving in the storm just a bit further. and we got lucky, too, as the snow had started to quit. as had the wind. and the skies cleared, illuminating those bright silver stars you only see from places like flagstaff. wow! a beautiful winter night.

i didn't find barnes and noble thrilling. lots of books. and that new book smell. i grabbed a latte and cruised around the clearance tables. stuff they'd no doubt brought in for christmas that didn't sell. and i found this game. i didn't take particular note of the name on the box. but it was originally priced at $19.95 and was clearance priced at one dollar. i figured it would be a worthwhile investment. our crazy family loved playing games - cards, board games, even croquet in nice weather. and we all tend to be fairly competitive. even if the game was a bust, how far wrong could i go by buying it for a dollar. and then we picked up the kids, delivered cat to her house, and drove on home.

the game sat in the closet for a couple of months. then lynda and pz, my sister and her husband, stopped to visit a while on their way from colorado to goodyear for their daughter, kelli's wedding. and we decided to break out the game and see what it's all about.

when you spend a dollar on a game you don't expect much. but as the four of us commenced play we were all pretty taken with it. the basic concept is this: there's a deck of cards with names of famous people. some real. some fictional. some actors. some historical characters. and playing as partners, you try to get your partner to guess the name on the card by giving clues to either his achievements or his name. well, we started having fun with this right away, as it was amusing to hear the clues as they related to the names on the cards. and some of the names no one knew. some of the names a few knew. some were easy - mickey mantle, john f kennedy, elizabeth taylor types. some were tough. chaucer, or however he's spelled. and that guy who is renowned as the "father of geometry". a very wide cross section of present, past and fictional folks. (and this was pretty entertaining when lynda had to guess guys like joe montana, magic johnson, tiger woods, as she'd spent most of thirty years living in england, and never cared for nor paid any attention to sports.)

well, the real shining moment of that first game came with lynda and hon teaming up, and lynda trying to identify a contemporary individual to hon. the clues and responses went something like this:

lynda: a pastor

hon: oral roberts

lynda: the first name you might give to a male goat

hon: billy?

lynda: yes. a pastor named billy

hon: billy roberts

lynda: no, a type of cracker

hon: oh yeah! i know it! billy SALTINE!

well, that tipped off about half hour of giggling. billy saltine? for chrissakes. who the hell is billy saltine. or course, hon realized immediately that the real name she was after was billy graham. but thanks to the uproarious laughter that had ensued, she was unable to get the name out before her time ran out.

well, that story spawned a family tradition. at virtually every large family gathering since then, the game has been brought out. we took it with us to kelli's wedding, and after the reception the clan all came to the house we'd borrowed for the occasion and we played en masse. then at trent's wedding we all convened at lynda and pz's house and introduced the piazzoni side of the family to the game. and crazy janet liked it so well that she returned home to san diego and bought the game herself, so she could introduce her family to it. and several other family members have gone on-line, as that's the only place you can find it, and bought the game and paid retail price!

playing the game over the course of these past six years has made lots of great family memories. and the competitive nature of the game and the participants has caused some hard feelings, fortunately temporary, but some got riled up when scooter screamed "you're killing me, man!", or pz would start his clues with "ah, oh, ahhhhh, ummmmmm, well . . . ok, ah, this is, ahhh, hmmmmm, ahhhh . . . " and having his time run out before he even gave a clue.

so anyone reading this that has a group of family or friends that enjoy raucous trivia games, search for "time's up". you won't regret it. even if you pay more than a buck for it.


  1. indeed. and i failed to mention that as a family unit we played the game on the eve of my dad's funeral. he would have enjoyed our laughter.