Board games are a big deal in my family. When I say that, I mean it. My most vivid memories center around my grandparentsí dining room table, where weíd play every board game you can think of. Our favorite was Wahoo, a marble game most know as Aggravation.
Papaw Bojack loved it almost as much as he loved cheating at games, and he taught me to enjoy both of those things. The best part about the game, he told me, was knocking another playerís marble off the board. He loved to win, but he was OK with losing if it meant he messed up everybody elseís game in the process.
Thatís something I share in common with Papaw Bojack. According to my husband Gideon, the vengeful way I play games is my most charming trait. I choose to believe heís not being sarcastic when he says that. I mean, doesnít everybody love it when a normally mild-mannered person turns into an absolute monster at family game night?
Playing board games is one of the ways Gideon and I bond with each other and our families. Itís been that way since we first started dating, when I learned how to play Settlers of Catan and wiped the floor with him on my first try. OK, so I actually lost that first game. I have improved over the years, though, and now weíre pretty evenly matched.
When we get together with Gideonís family, we play anything from Catan to Taboo to Monopoly Empire. I consider myself the best at all those games, even if the end result doesnít always prove it. Iím very competitive with my brother-in-law Moriah, who plays as viciously as I do. My sister-in-law Glory is pretty good, too, and Gideon wins once or twice in a decade. Sometimes, my 12-year-old brother-in-law, who doesnít play games with any strategy whatsoever, beats all of us. I canít express in words how angry that makes me.
Our obsession isnít restricted to board games. We love card games just as much, especially Skip Bo, Phase 10 and Uno. I grew up playing Phase 10 with my mom. It wonít surprise you that my mom is even more competitive than I am. Sheís less vocal about it, but sheís been known to demand a rematch immediately if she loses a game by a large margin. The only reason I could ever beat her, sheís said, is because of my cheating ways. I have to give it to her; that statement is partially true.
Iíve perfected the art of cheating. My trademark trick is to take extra money from the bank during Monopoly and sit on it. Iíll reposition myself, take the money and add it to my pile when no one is looking. Card games are a little trickier, but you can always find a way to cheat if youíre determined. I am always trying to look at the cards in Gideonís hand. By the time he catches me, he canít do anything about it. Itís fool-proof if you enjoy annoying your partner as much as possible.
These days, weíre actively trying to get more people to come over for game night. More people competing means more people to beat, and that idea appeals to me very much. Of course, I donít always win. Sometimes I lose badly.
Thatís when I get angry and demand a rematch. I am my motherís child, after all.
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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is†Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com.