My family loves board games. Well, that’s actually a lie. The truth is my daughter loves board games and forces us to play them with her. This is why on Thanksgiving while feeling very uncomfortably full or as my Southern relatives like to call it “tick stuffed” (yeah, I know – yuck) we all settled in for a not so riveting game of Clue.
Clue was bad when I played it with my kids when they were in elementary school and they fought over who was going to be Colonel Mustard. But playing it with four adults is mind numbing.
The game has zero excitement. It’s not like Scrabble where you get all jazzed when you get a Q and a U, and that triple word score is wide opening and waiting or even Life with the cool spinner thing or Monopoly where you’ve got money and houses to keep you awake.
Heck, I’ll even take the game Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? over Clue which, spoiler alert, apparently, I am not.
My son, for years, has managed to avoid playing board games, but this Thanksgiving even he fell prey to his just-home-from-college sister’s pleas. As we settled in to play, I was already miffed because I got stuck with the maid token - Mrs. White.
I already felt like a servant after cooking a Thanksgiving dinner and then cleaning the kitchen with some very lackluster family assistance. I wanted to be the erudite Professor Plum but someone (cough, cough, my husband) got to him first and wouldn’t relinquish him.
My mood didn’t approve when I kept on getting lame rolls of the dice and for some reason the game dragged on longer than usual. In what universe does it take more than 15 minutes to play Clue? Usually it’s seven minutes max before it’s Miss Scarlett in the conservatory with the dagger. When I asked why the game was never-ending the response, I received rattled my entire world.
It seems for my entire life I had not only been playing Clue wrong but had also taught my children a “sketchy way” to play the game. My son, after 22 years on this earth, had actually read the directions to the game and for the first time in my life I was playing it the correct way.
He basically had me at read the directions. Who reads the directions to Clue? The game is self-explanatory. You roll the dice, mark some stuff down and then make a guess. Who needs directions for that? Well, apparently, I did.
But, was it really my fault we had been playing it wrong for years? My own mom had taught me how to play Clue. How could she be wrong? Hmm, could that be the issue? Did my mother teach me an abbreviated version to get the game over with faster so she could continue on her way with all her other mom duties?
Within seconds I immediately knew that’s how it must have gone down. What mother in 1973 had time to play a long-winded game of Clue? Heck, the home microwave hadn’t even been invented yet. I’m sure she jettisoned the directions for a mom version that would get her in and out of the game in under 10 minutes. I had then, unknowingly, carried on the tradition.
Instead of feeling betrayed I was bowing to my mother’s genius and wondering what other ’70s parenting hacks she had employed. I do remember that Monopoly went by rather fast and sometimes she thought there was a gas leak in the house and for our safety she told us it was best if everyone played outside.
Oh, well played, Mom. Well played.
Reach Sherry Kuehl at snarkyinthesuburbs@ gmail.com, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and snarkyinthesuburbs.com.