My Great Uncle Richard and Aunt Neita used to play at least one card, dice, or board game together every day. I don’t know how long they were married before Uncle Richard died, but it was somewhere around 50 years, and they were one of the happiest, sweetest couples I’ve ever known. I don’t know whether game playing was a root or a flower in their relationship, but it was definitely something they loved doing. The infectious humor that infused their marriage spilled over into their games and then back into their daily lives.
After playing a game of Boggle with my wife yesterday (and again today—this time she only beat me 106 to 104, so I’m getting better) I reflected on the fact that we haven’t played a game together in quite a while. We used to spend a lot of time playing games, doing jigsaw puzzles, and filling out crosswords together. Somewhere along the way, though, we seem to have become more interested in television than in shared activities. I think now that we have the game juices flowing again, we’ll probably make more of an effort to set aside some time for mutual amusement.
These are some of our favorite two-player games:
- Pass the Pigs
- casino (a card game we learned from prison inmates)
- squat (a game using five dice)
- The Simpsons trading card game
- table tennis (when the equipment is handy)
Mrs. Happy and I love games, due in large part to the fact that we both possess a competitive streak. Some people find it off-putting when they try to play with us. “It’s only a game,” they say. I believe that too. A game’s outcome doesn’t affect the world at large, or even my own life beyond the game’s duration. But saying “it’s only a game” doesn’t change the fact that a game exists for the purpose of competition, and that every legitimate competition has a winner, and that I want that winner to be me. Otherwise, what’s the point of playing at all? We grow closer and learn more about each other through competition. It’s one way we learn not to take ourselves too seriously.