A family Christmas game of Charades goes very wrong.
I'm not calling for international standards, or an inter-governmental task force. But I'm fresh out of an uncomfortable experience that I think could be neatly sidestepped in future, if we would all just put our heads together and agree on a few basic ground rules for contests and competitions.
As a younger man it has been said of my person, that I am sometimes a little over eager to win. Aggressive in the pursuit of excellence, is what I've always considered it. Still, some of those pesky equality Nazis of my acquaintance have been uncomfortable with the zealous nature of my eagerness. Yes I tripped up little Jimmy in the egg and spoon race in the Middle School sports day when I was 7, what's you point? He was a good foot taller than me and blessed with the grace of a ballerina. If you just stopped and looked at the little guy waltzing towards the line, his egg cupped and supported like a kangaroo in its mothers maternal pouch, well, little jimmy's grace would have brought a tear to an eye of even the most emotionally hardened observer. "That boy is going places." they might think. And he was, after some unforeseen assistance from my right foot, he went head over ass on to the deck, splatting the egg on his back as he landed, before releasing a loud yelp from his perfect little mouth.
“Beautiful voice”, I thought as I heard him cry out in pain. That boy is going places.
I did what I did, it's done. Probably in retrospect I didn't also need to kick him in the kidneys as I sauntered past and crossed the line, taking 1st place and the golden egg trophy. But that wasn't the end of the story, both the trip and the kick were spotted by some "horrified" parents and I was punished. The trophy sequestered. No happy ending. Unfortunately at age 7, I was more cunning than stealth.
Today I was reminded of that fateful day once more, as again my enthusiasm and desire to win, something I have long considered one of my finer qualities, was questioned by the over sensitive do-gooders plaguing our society.
This time, those of my own dear family.
I wonder why these people play games. Enter Egg and Spoon races. Leave the house at all. Life must be one long series of disappointments when it reveals itself to be "unfair". Unfair? Who said it was supposed to be fair? It's a jungle out there my brother, no harm in flashing your teeth once in a while to get things done, or won as in this case.
The setting was the Jenkins family Christmas. My family. Today, being Boxing Day and after an very enjoyable meal of roast lamb with gravy and potatoes, plus last, but to no man’s imagination, least, some truly excellent Yorkshire puddings (I feel that should be mentioned, good Yorkish puddings, sadly, are a rarity in this day and age). After the meal, contented, we retired to the living room for more of the customary Jenkins family Christmas games. We settled on Charades, a family favourite for its timeless simplicity, forming two teams of 3. I was drawn (handicapped would be a more apt word), mostly likely because of my reputation as one of life's winners, to play on the team of Grandma and my brother William, William deserving acclaim for being the world’s most functional half-wit. An honour akin to being the world's tallest midget. Grandma, while apparently sharp as fiddle in her formative years, is now milk that's soured well beyond its use by date. Incidentally she also waft's slightly of curdled milk, but that's of no relevance and certainly not an affliction in ones Charades playing abilities. Nor is her being as deaf as a plank. If the entire Sydney Orchestra were to arrive unannounced and commence playing a rousing Beethoven symphony in the dining room, she'd still sit there completely oblivious telling a story about the price of marmalade in 1942. Perhaps though, this being charades after all, a game that should suit her deficiencies (perhaps like blind people her loss of hearing had in fact sharpened her other sensory facilities!).
What followed next was like that fateful Sports Day all over again. The game progressed just fine. Despite my teams various short comings we found ourselves with nineteen points, against the rival teams nineteen. It was my turn to describe. This point was crucial and would win us the game.
Did anyone remember that in the melee that would ensue? Oh no, that was forgotten.
Instead I was, as also happened after Sports Day, ostracized from the group and sent to bed to consider "how it was and wasn't okay to act during family game time". Which is where I am now, writing up this experience and still trying to understand the outrage I have caused. This must not continue. We must make rules for games so that people like me, people who believe strongly in the importance of winning at all costs, can understand where the lines of acceptability are. Only then, can we truly know that we are crossing them and that we should do that, only when no-one is looking.
What was my crime? If one could be so generous as to call it that. It was my turn to act out the Charade and conscious of the fact I would be performing for a half wit and Nana Nincompoop I knew I should keep it as simple as possible. Well, as fortune would have it, I'd had only the previous week happened to see a delightful, hard hitting movie about an inter-species pedophilic relationship. Sensitively written and brilliant acted by a young Jason James Richter. A boy, should he traverse the twin dangers of sex and alcohol, we will be hearing much from in the future, I'll tell you that right now!
So I thought hard how I could describe the name of this movie to my simpleton team mates in a way that would not intellectually tax them, being as they were already forced to multi-task both breathing and blinking. I was unsure how much cranial capacity was still available. Being a nimble thinker I quickly settled upon an elegant solution to convey the name of the movie…..
First I mimicked the video camera, which perplexed my team mates until they were assisted by the other team and told it was a "movie" and not "mashing potato" as Grandma had suspected.
Then I showed two fingers for two words.
Then I unzipped the fly of my jeans and pulled out my penis. Letting it just hang out there, as if it were a personal flag, flapping at half mast. I did not feel I needed to do more.
All the dots were there, it should just have been a formality for even the biggest idiot to be able to join them. However, what actually happened was pandemonium. Grandma fell off her chair in shock - arthritis, being a widow 40 years, two bouts of pneumonia, one failed kidney, a gummy hip, no hobbies (beyond moaning and napping), no interests or friends? None of that could kill the old battle axe, but the quick flashing of a younger mans male appendix and she near asphyxiated to death on the living room floor.
From the other team came a chorus of "oh god" "put it away" and "what is wrong with you?"
Oh, I would put it away, I had no problems putting it away, but not until my team had guessed the movie and thus won us the game. Let’s us focus down on what matters here. 19-19, this is for the win.
With Grandma in a shock coma, that left only my brother. He just stared down at it, then up at me, then down at it, then up at me with a highly quizzical look in his face, like a man that had ordered steak but been served shit and wasn't sure who to blame.
It was then that my Mother interjected to tell me to go to my room and "and think about how it was and wasn't okay to act during family game time".
"Free Willy Mum,Free Willy" I said, turning and trudging up the stairs.