Sunday, January 29, 2006

Trivial pursuits

Board games mess with your head. Last Saturday night, for a brief moment, I actually felt cool because I was the only one in the room who could hum the tune to “Someday My Prince Will Come.” Only a powerful hallucinogen should be able to make a twenty-eight year-old man be proud of something like that, yet the game Cranium seems to have the same effect.

I was like, “Hmmm HMMMM hm hmmmm hm hmmmm – Yeah, that’s right. In your face! Boo-yah! Nobody messes with my Snow White skills.”

The stupidity of getting competitive over a board game only becomes apparent in retrospect. At the time, the only thing that matters in the world is that you are the fastest person to get your partner to guess “let the cat out of the bag” without using any verbal communication. Strategy note: Keeping actual cats in bags near the game-playing area makes that one much easier.

Of course, spending Saturday night playing board games is probably not something one should be talking about at all. If we had even a shred of coolness left, we wouldn’t have been playing board games in the first place; we would have been out at the bars spending five bucks for the same beer that costs fifty cents to drink in our living room. A couple of my buddies had driven up from a few hours away to hang out with me and my wife Kara for the weekend, and our idea of showing them a wild and debauched time was busting out Cranium instead of Trivial Pursuit.

Having friends over is not as simple as it used to be. Feeding them is much more of an issue when you’re a grown-up. Back in the day, my friends would just walk into the house, make a beeline for the kitchen and plow through whatever they could find in the pantry or the fridge, and all I’d have to do is run and hide the next day when I heard Mom shriek, “What happened to all of our leftovers?” The following weekend, the food would have magically regenerated, my friends would come back over and the process would repeat.

Now, though, Kara and I actually have to think ahead about what we can possibly feed people when all we have in the house is cereal in the cupboard and ranch dressing in the fridge that is probably old enough to apply for a driver’s license. Compounding the difficulty, Kara has this crazy notion that eating pizza for breakfast and then eating pizza for lunch somehow rules out eating pizza for dinner.

Plus, my buddy Jered (who cheats at Cranium, by the way) just eats one huge meal a day, like a large predator. He shovels that meal down as if he’s afraid somebody’s going to try to take it from him. The only person who really needs to be concerned about food theft is Kara, as I regularly impose a slow-eating tax on her. Once I finish my meal, I have no choice but to gaze longingly at whatever she has left on her plate. “The slow-eating tax collector is coming, isn’t he?” she’ll ask. I nod, and she surrenders some of her fries. I don’t know how I ever got enough to eat before I had Kara’s food to steal.

Jered doesn’t have to worry about the tax collector coming to his plate. He eats with one arm guarding his food, and he gives off the same vibe as a strange dog at a food bowl; you don’t want to put your hands near his face for fear that they might become part of the meal. When he’s done eating, Jered drags his leftovers under a bush in the yard and covers them with some dirt, sleeping nearby to fend off any wandering coyotes.

You can smack Mike Todd’s hand off your plate at


  1. Great post, Mike. Hubby used to eat like Jared. It's taken fifteen years, but I think I have him convinced that he's not going to starve. Having said that, he still snarls if the kids get too close while he's feeding - I mean eating.

  2. Come on now - are you talking about sweet Jered? Who is this Jekyl/Hyde creature you describe? Eating like a growling animal. I ought to give you and Kara this mustard dip recipe I have. It lasts FOREVR in the fridge and if you always have pretzels on hand... you're golden!

  3. Oh no... not board games already! I didn't hit that phase until I was at LEAST 30! LOL

  4. Holy Hilarity, Mike! Did Jared come from a large family? I did, and his eating habits remind me of home- where a fork was a weapon, not a utensil.

  5. 1. Yes, I eat like that but only because I get very hungry (it's just a bad habit that I eat so fast). I don't come from a large family but for some reason relish my meals.

    2. I kick ass at Cranium (as does Kara because she was my teammate)... we were so in sync that it made Mike jealous. I have to admit that Cranium was a ton of fun!

  6. LOL board games vs. bar-hopping...

    yeah, it's strange how our idea of fun deteriorates with time. however, the cheap mixed drinks/bottles of Bud you have at home can add to the fun of the board games, right? ;)

  7. Dude, if I could get these comments before I wrote the column, then I wouldn't even have to write the dang thing. I'd just paste these puppies in and call it a day.

    Anna -- Feeding, not eating. I frickin' wish I'd thought of that.

    Sheri -- That sounds like a welcome change from Cheerios for dinner. Hit me up!

    Lauren -- What can I say? We're early bloomers :-)

    Jim -- Yet another line I wish I'd had last week. You the man.

    Jered -- You frickin' cheat, man! You had like this telepathy thing going on or something. Next time you'll have to play with your oat bag strapped on.

    Heidi -- Exactly! That certainly does appeal to my cheap bastardliness.