World Domination, Parker Brothers, and Milton Bradley

Way back when we lived in Edmond, Oklahoma, I used to watch a 6:30 p.m. tv show with Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson drawing on dry-erase boards with celebrity teammates. It was on during that calm half hour after the kiddies were fed, their daddy came home, and mommy was briefly off-duty but completely brain dead. The tv game wasn't Pictionary, but something similar. Not as annoying as Hollywood Squares, though.

A dear, demented friend and I have been brain-storming a team parlor game about redrawing the political map of the world. You know, redraw the Kurds into Turkey, or add the Turkish Kurds and the Iraqi Kurds to create an independent Kurdish nation. Make the Kurds try it out for a year, which could be a spinoff reality show. Circle gets Red Square. And for Eastern Europe, nobody gets to buy a vowel! I am dieting so I will look good in those Vanna White outfits.

Please tell me you have read Jumanji, by Chris Van Allsburg. We often design board games in my art classes. We make card games, too.

My favorite part of playing Risk as a kid (who was finally old enough to play with the big kids) was grooving on all the tiny colored wooden blocks for the armies. I loved how the colored blocks fit in their little plastic boxes. World domination was secondary.

I really loved playing Clue. I first played it at a friend's house in fifth grade. When I got home I recreated the game board on corrugated cardboard from an old box, and drew all the cards from memory. The game fit so well with my obsession with drawing floor plans for houses on graph paper, and my Nancy Drew/Cherry Ames book favorites. It was Professor Plum in the billiard room with the candlestick...

The students at my Montessori school sometimes play the old-fashioned game of Life. You remember the little cars with the pink and blue pegs for people. At the school the kids are allowed to choose same-sex marriages if they just want pink pegs or blue pegs. It's very open-minded.

We used to play Monopoly on school snow days. Texans don't understand the incredible snow glare headaches we used to get when the sun would come out after the blizzard. Texas winters are so gray and wimpy. Thinking about Monopoly gives me a snow headache sometimes.

Yahtzee isn't a board game, but we always played it during Christmas vacations. We might have 8 or 10 family members and friends around the dining table laughing, telling family stories, and rolling the dice until midnight, then eating sugar cookies. Howie and I prefer our sugar cookies very thin and dark brown.

Playing Scrabble is how we honor my mom. She enjoys it, and my dad won't play. I love when 3 or 4 generations are playing Scrabble. We set the board on a lazy susan. It's fun to look back through the scoring notepad to see who was old enough to add the scores in a particular year. Again, I have this thing about the little wooden tiles.

And, dang, if real life isn't a whole lot like Chutes and Ladders.

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