Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Childhood in a Bag, A Not So Trivial Pursuit*

* Republished from The Urban Erma, March 2011
A close friend recently hosted a “Game Night” and all of us who attended were charged with bringing our favorites. Rising to the challenge, I brought a goodie bag full of old school: dominoes, cloth and wire jump ropes for Double Dutch, and a sack full of classic metal jacks. You heard me. Jacks! Yeah, I took it there. You can’t get metal jacks anymore. You see, now we care about children choking on small metal objects, in my generation not so much. I’m not saying parents ate their young back then, but they didn’t see the need to over protect us from toys made with lead, asbestos, mercury, or depleted uranium.

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When I sprinkled my biohazard jacks out of their black suede pouch my comrades “Oooed” and “Ahhhed” like I had just whipped out a handful of non-conflict diamonds. When the original hard, high bounce balls tumbled out too, the consensus was I could probably get a bundle for them from the guys on Pawn Stars. (We later checked and learned that except for the memories, my jacks are worthless.)

One day when I was about 11-years old my Mom’s friends saw me playing jacks and asked to join in. I said, “Yes,” because I was happy adults wanted to play with me, but I was also thinking, “What do these ‘old’ ladies know about playing jacks?” Well, these superannuated sistahs got down on their haunches and with breathtaking hand-eye coordination proceeded to wipe the floor with me. It was like the familiar scene in a pool hustler movie where The Mark let’s The Ringer shoot first and then spends the rest of the game watching them literally call every shot. If we had been playing for money, I’d still be paying them off.

The Ladies – who were ancient only in the eyes of an adolescent – had to change positions more frequently than I did to accommodate older hips and knee joints, but any aches and pains they might have felt were eclipsed by the fun they were having. They laughed and trash talked like the girls, rumor had it, they used to be: 
“C’mon! You know you touched that jack!”  
“No, I didn’t!”
There were no husbands, kids, or jobs. They were all skill and concentration handily making it up to their tensies and back.

When I was a kid, I spent hours on my Parent’s kitchen floor playing jacks. But now that me and my friends are grown with homes of our own, I knew we were not hardly thinking about putting scratches on our freshly laid linoleum floors. So, in my bag of old school I also had a deck of Uno cards, Dominoes, Monopoly, and Trivial Pursuit. That’s right, son. I’m an OG Gamer. In addition to my original, friends had brought the 80s and pop culture versions of Trivial Pursuit as well. 

The night was young, the wine was good, and we were feeling fine. “Trivial Pursuit it is!” we agreed. But we soon realized why this game has declined in popularity. It tells you things about yourself that you may not want to know. Since graduation, I’ve been laboring under the delusion that I am a smart woman. No. Apparently, I’m a dumb ass.
After playing Trivial Pursuit for 45 minutes I wanted to remove my college degree from the wall, return it to the Bursar's office and get my money back. After playing for two hours, I was afraid my alma mater was gonna come and take it back. As the evening progressed I became convinced that I’d go home and find an empty spot on the wall where my degree used to be, a sticky note in its place saying: 
“And you call yourself a college graduate. You disgust us.”

I don’t know how we got here. The game had started out with such promise:

“In which war did the most Americans die?”
“The Civil War.”

Yeah, baby! I knew the answer to that. You know why? Because that wasn’t my question. One of my questions was:

“Who was the first African American to coach a major league sports team?”

I’ll give you a hint. It’s not Ernie Hudson. No, I didn’t really think the Black guy from Ghost Busters was also a major league coach, but I was grasping at straws since the answer also wasn’t Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans. For the record the answer is Bill Russell. (Mr. Russell, if you’re reading this, I’m very sorry. I should have known that.) 
“What two numbers are evenly divisible into 17?” 
“Ernie Hudson?”
“No? Oh my god, who’s writing these questions? Stephen Hawking?”
But in Trivial Pursuit you’re not allowed to answer a question with a question. You’re also not allowed to use a life line, phone a friend, or surreptitiously use your smart phone to lookup the answers on Wikipedia. Ridiculous, right? Your resident former English major was regretting not taking her math classes more seriously.

I’d like to say that my intellectual faculties were impaired by the wine. But it was probably the lead from my vintage metal jacks still lingering in my system. Apparently, my childhood had a half life. I bet if I ever get cocky enough to play Trivial Pursuit again, my question will be:  “Who’s the Black guy from Ghost Busters?” And I’ll say, “Bill Russell?”

Next game night, floor damage be damned, I’m playing jacks.

The Urban Erma, the longest running column on StageTimeMagazine.com, was created and written by stand-up comedian Leighann LordListen to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher RadioWatch the video edition on YouTube.comIf you enjoy The Urban Erma please leave a comment, Like it on Facebook, follow on Twitter, And share it with your friends. (Share it with people who are not your friends and maybe they will be.) TheUrbanErma@gmail.com Get her free e-books of The Great Spanx Experiment and Sometimes I Wish Facebook Had a Hate Button. 

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