by Julia Buckley
Many divorces, I’m guessing, can be traced to a game of charades, especially in that moment when the charader keeps repeating the same crazy motion—smacking his head, perhaps—and refusing to acknowledge the confusion of his teammates. Smack, smack, glare. Smack, smack, glare. The charader becomes angry that his thoughts aren’t instantly transferred into the minds of the guessers. There is, unless the players are quite good-natured, frustration and eventual fury on both sides.
A similar game is Pictionary. In this case, the frustration lies in having to draw the idea and hoping that your teammates can recognize the picture. At our New Year’s gathering with neighbors, we played a cross between Pictionary and Win, Lose, or Draw. Remember that game? Remember Bert Convy? :)
Anyway, our neighbor Burt set up a big pad and we divided into family teams: our four versus their four. One of theirs was a five-year-old, which you would think would be a handicap, except that our team contained my husband. Not to slam my spouse, but he would be the first to admit that his art skills are on a par with the average pre-schooler’s, partly because he has the manual dexterity of Frankenstein. When he does the dishes, dishes break. When he strokes a child’s hair, the child says “ow.” And when he draws a picture in Pictionary, it looks like the one above. That’s right, the child didn’t draw that picture: Jeff did. Can you guess what it is? I’ll give you a hint. It’s in the category “movies.”
We couldn’t guess, either. My children made some game attempts. “Devil?” “Angels and Demons?” “The Exorcist?” “Dracula?” “Snowman?” “Mothman?” “The Butterfly Effect?” “Come on!” we yelled, wanting more clues.
My husband shook his head and pointed at the thing above. We looked. The timekeeper laughed.
We tried more desperately. “The Thing?” “Caped Wonder from Outer Space?” “The Blob?” “Alien?” “Pig-nosed Horn Creature?”
No. “Time’s up!” crowed our neighbor’s daughter.
“Dad, what was it?” asked our sons.
My husband drooped. “Now I don’t want to tell you.”
“No, really. We’ll get it,” we assured him. Surely, once we had the knowledge, we would link his visuals to the movie in question.
He showed us his card. It said, “The Matrix.” The Matrix. We looked at the card, then at his visual.
Then we laughed for about five minutes.
My youngest son, wiping the tears from his eyes, said, “You should have drawn this.” He sketched a pair of sunglasses and a gun. It took about five seconds.
“Oh, yeah, that would have done it,” various people murmured.
My husband, head bowed, went back to his seat. We had nothing to lose or gain from this exercise—we had stopped keeping score. But I could see how competitive people with a few beers in them would become furious—either because a spouse laughed at him or because a spouse drew an impossible picture for her.
As it was, my husband retained his dignity, blaming the card for being impossible, but my sons and I kept sending him glances of disbelief. Not since his famous drawing of “Brothers” (two mustached men holding hands) had his pictionary been this inscrutable. I wondered if there was a game that wouldn’t bring out the subtle aggressions or humiliations of our family.
Trivial Pursuit? No way. Sorry? Nope. Poker? Not a chance . . . .
Perhaps we should just watch television. :)