I hope you’re recovered from whatever debauchery helped you ring in the new year. We celebrated the new year with good food, good friends, and a five-hour marathon of Scattergories until 3:30 in the morning, which is an assigned punishment in some military academies. Since I had consumed more high-fat food than alcohol, I actually remember some of the responses. Of course, most of my answers cataclysmically sucked, since I perform poorly under duress. You probably wouldn’t want me around in the event of a house fire or Jeopardy Lightning Round. (When I am asked to use my brain while a clock ticks down to a nerve-rattling buzzer, it basically implodes. I forget my own phone number, simple multiplication, and where babies come from.)
For those of you unacquainted with the board game Scattergories, here’s a brief description from Board Game Rating: “Name a restaurant, fruit, toy, Halloween costume, and weapon. And make sure all your answers begin with the same initial letter. If "C" is the letter, you might answer Chinese, Cantaloupe, Cap Gun, Clown, and Catapult. But be unique. If your response is the same as an opponent's, you score nothing!”
Oh, and you have three minutes to come up with twelve unique, letter-specific answers. And the game might turn every mild-mannered human being at the table into a viciously competitive, snarling animal.
Let’s begin with some highlights for the letter ‘O.’
Things you might spot on a hike:
I picked “Otters,” which seemed perfectly logical at the time. My best friend jotted down “Orange hat,” which sparked a heated debate about whether adjectives beginning with that round’s letter would count. For instance, one could just as easily see an “Outta-sight pine tree” or “Obnoxious badger” on a hike. New intellectual and interpersonal depths were scraped when people started yelling “Taffy!” for answers that were a ‘real stretch.’
For O-things found in a classroom, I picked “opportunity,” which was resoundingly denied by the rest of the players at the table. I’m still miffed.
Some fruits beginning with the letter 'P':
I drew a blank for a long time, but eventually came up with one. Was it Pineapple? No. Pears, Peaches, or Plums? No. Pomegranate, Papaya, passion fruit, pawpaws, or plaintains? No, no, no, no, and no. In a timed environment with multiple distractions I could only think of one fruit beginning with the letter ‘P:’ Persimmon.
Because they’re such a household fruit and no toddler would be without one, I guess.
Words beginning with the letter ‘L’ and having double letters:
I suppose I could have won extra points with “literally,” but the first word to leap to my battered mind was “Little.” I figured everyone else at the table would also come up with ‘Little,” so I scribbled “Leery.” I was swiftly challenged by the two teachers at the table, who were convinced it was actually spelled “leary.”
Colors beginning with the letter 'F':
Creative genius that I am, I promptly chose the same color as everyone else at the table: Fuchsia. Extra credit to my friend Leeann for coming up with “Fart brown.” And would you believe one of the categories for the letter ‘F’ was “four letter words?”
I picked “farm.”
Things beginning with the letter ‘N’ that you find in a diner:
The guy nicknamed “Bingo” came up with “Soup.” I, playing correctly, chose “Nickels.” “Nickels” appeared earlier in the round for Things you find in the White House. When challenged, the nickel-chooser responded, “I’m sure someone in the White House has a nickel in their wallet!”
He was promptly pelted with crudités.
Things beginning with the letter ‘C’ that relate to money:
I didn’t pick “coins” or “currency,” which I can now see are appropriate answers. (Because there is no clock ticking.) What did I pick? Community Chest. When challenged by another player, I eloquently replied, “Dude! Not only does this refer to Monopoly money, but I just read about the origins of the community chest. It has something to do with money and World War II.” Opposing player, with a blank stare: “Like what?” Me, after a long pause: “Just something with World War II, okay?”
I’d make a great lawyer, don’t you think?
Beverages beginning with the letter ‘C':
“That Mexican beer.” (I’m ashamed to admit that I actually wrote that down.)
My favorite segment of the game was the last round, which featured the letter 'K' and a table full of drunk, exhausted, yet still unusually competitive players. Here are two of my answers:
Things that are black: "Koala’s a--hole"
Type of dance: "Knuckle shuffle"
And my friend Cindy’s K-word for Term of Endearment: "Keeper."
Guess what her new nickname is?