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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Column: Dogs, Bones and Berries: everyone is a winner

I have recently begun to understand two serious and conflicting facts about my life.

1. I am very competitive. 2. I am not very good at games. In fact, I’m so bad at such a variety of games that it might be considered a skill in and of itself.

I play beer pong like an overly enthusiastic T-Rex, I never throw anything except scissors in Rock Paper Scissors, and I’ve hit myself in the head with a Frisbee—more than once and, possibly, more than twice. The only game I ever really feel good about is Children’s Edition Jeopardy, because if I can ignore the fact that my opponents are ten, I feel great about myself. What color is a giraffe? Bam. Yellow and brown. Sorry, Tyler from Possum Creek, Tenn., I just won my elementary school ten new computers.

Once, in high school, I was playing Boggle with my best friend, who had never played Boggle before. “Aha,” I thought slyly to myself. “I will crush her but be magnanimous in victory and all will love me.” After the time was up, we compared words and I had about three more than she did.

It wasn’t as good as I expected, but I was still pretty happy … until she said, “Wait, what about these?” and turned over her paper to reveal about 40 MORE WORDS. How did this happen?! I spluttered inwardly. She’s not even good at English! I’m good at English! I WILL SMOTHER HER TO DEATH WITH SPEECH TEAM MEDALS.

When I began to suspect my deficit early in life, I started making up my own games instead. Some were well-formed and had rules. Others were called Dogs, Bones and Berries and involved pretending to be dogs and collecting food for the “dog feast.” Everyone wins, unless you count the loss of time and dignity.

Every Christmas, my family tried to steer me away from DBB (as all the game’s avid followers called it) by playing competitive games. This would have probably improved my skills, except that my dad’s idea of a Taboo clue is saying, “… Arizona” and then staring at me beady-eyed until the time runs out. (The answer: Tombstone. Are you actually kidding me?). Couple this with his tendency to make up
Scrabble words and then hide the dictionary so no one can contest them, and you’ll understand why I never got better.
I wish I was better at games. I can count the ones I’m decent at on one hand: Bananagrams, Clue, The Most Dangerous Game and How I Met Your Mother Quote Recitation.

I’d love to play any and all games with you. Just understand that I might end up shouting, “I will set you on fire! I will set you. ON. FIRE.” It’s nothing personal, just a habit that comes from long nights of staring into my dad’s eyes, wondering just how genetic his particular brand of madness is. And if that doesn’t work, we can always play Dogs, Bones and Berries.

I hear there’s a dog feast coming up, and boy, are we short on supplies.

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