Wednesday, November 5, 2014

54. Word Games

When I was a kid I was obsessed with a certain cassette tape that had (what I can only assume were nauseating) songs about the Ugly Duckling. Whenever we were in the car for a certain amount of time, I would plead for this cassette tape to be played, and I would sing along with the music in my best, and loudest, basso profondo. That is, until one day when the tape went mysteriously missing. 

During long road trips there had to be some method of entertainment, just to prevent my sister and I from getting too creative with entertaining ourselves. For example, my infant brother had one of those toys where you pulled the string and an arrow spun around to point at various farm animals, and then a serious man's voice would say, "The cow goes... Moooo." 

My sister and I figured out that if you hit the toy with the heel of your hand at the exact right moment, it would jiggle the mechanism and cause the recorded voice to say things like, "The cat goes... Neeeiiighh." 

Then we would quiz our little baby brother and ask,

"What does the pig say?"

And dutifully he would reply, "Baaa!"

And so it was that this toy was also added to the list of things went mysteriously missing.

Hiking for long periods of time can become a lot like a long car ride. And, just like my parents found out, word games can be an effective way to pass the time, and keep your children/hiking partners from finding ways to subtly torture one another. Unfortunately "I spy" doesn't really work for hikers, because the answer is always "a tree" or "a rock" and that gets old pretty quickly.

Here are a couple of our favorite word games that could easily pass hours of hiking.

The Thimble Game

This is kind of like 20 Questions, except you have an infinite number of questions. Someone "hides a thimble" anywhere in the world, or in a tv show, movie, book or song. Then everyone else asks a series of yes or no questions to narrow it down. For example, a thimble could be hidden on the bottom of the Mariana Trench, or up John McClane's nose, the moment that he watches Hans Gruber fall to his doom. Over time, Whistle, Grim, Dumptruck and I got WAY TOO GOOD at this game, because we played it all the time. Therefore the thimble had to hidden in more and more complicated places. Here are some of the places that the thimble was hidden, that were, I must emphasize, FIGURED OUT by the people playing:

- On the end of R2D2's probe when he is trying to open the blast doors on the Forest Moon of Endor

- On the top of the arch of Duane the Rock Johnson's eyebrow

- On the antenna of the Mars Rover

- In Nicholas Cage's bald spot (this one was solved in maybe 7 questions)

- Inside the color yellow. Just yellow. Everywhere that yellow exists, and all things that are yellow. The thimble was just in "yellow." This one took a loooong time.

- Inside Whistle's understanding of her own mortality. I hid the thimble there, and it was only Whistle and I playing. It took her hours, but she got it with no hints.

The Spelling Game

This one is going to be super hard to explain, so bear with me. Person A thinks of a word (let's say, they think of the word "Radio"), and tells everyone "I've thought of a word, and it starts with R." You need at least 3 people to play.

Then the people playing ask a series of questions, the answer to which would have to be a word that starts with R. Person A has to be able to answer the question. If they're stumped, and no one else playing can answer it, they have to give another letter. Here's an example:

Person B: Is it when you get really sick and throw up?

Person A: It's not "Ralphing."

Person C: Is it when cars drive in a circle?

Person A: It's not a "Rotary."

Person B: Is it a movie about a man who saves Detroit?

Person A: uhhh... Oh goodness.. Ummmm... I give up.

At this point, Person C would have to be able to answer it. If they can't, then Person A doesn't have to give a letter. 

Person C: Robocop!

Person B: That's it!

Person A: Curses! Okay. The next letter is "A".

Then B and C have to ask questions where the answer would be something that starts with "R-A..."

Person A can also deflect the question if they can give 3 words that technically answer the question with the letters given, even if it's not what the other person was thinking. For example, assuming the game is up to "R-A":

Person B: Is it something gross?

Person A: It's not "Rancid"

Person B: Nope, but that works.

Person A: It's not a "Rat"

Person B: No, that works, too.

Person A: It's not "Rank."

Person B: Shoot! It wasn't any of those, but all those work. So you don't give us the next letter.

And so it goes until the entire word is spelled out! The people asking the questions aren't so much trying to guess the actual word as trying to ask tricky questions that will force Person A to give up another letter. The longest game we played with this was when someone had the word "Decaf." You'd be surpised how many words start with "D-E" !

Feel free to inflict these games upon your friends and/or family. They are addictive.

Clever Girl

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