Archive for Games

42. Land on Boardwalk.

The perfect plan is in place. You’ve been working on it for hours. You own the railroads, the utilities, the yellows, AND the greens. Both Get Out of Jail Free cards are sitting in front of you, gleaming like a newly acquired insurance policy. Sure, you’ve recently fallen upon hard times, but now your thimble is positioned ever-so-critically upon the Short Line Railroad. All you need to do is pass Go, and you’ll be in the clear.

You cradle the dice in your sweaty, shaking hands, eying the shiny red hotel atop that infernal blue box. Anything but a four. Anything but a four. What are the odds of rolling a four anyway? you shout at your opponent. Like a billion to one?? You blow into your fists, declare that papa needs a new pair of shoes, and let the little cubes of fate dance onto the table.

They tumble and roll, bouncing across the board like a couple of drunken pigeons. Deftly avoiding the houses you’ve built on Marvin Gardens and prancing delicately past the top hat, they finally come to a rest directly atop the stern face of Uncle Pennybags. Both you and your opponent lean over in anticipation. Staring back at you, with a distinct air of mockery: a one and a three.

Your opponent launches directly into a celebratory song and victory dance, while you continue to sit there, gaping in shock. What did you ever do to deserve this? You paid your school taxes! You took care of those street repairs! You were even elected chairman of the friggin’ board, for Pete’s sake! What the HELL?!

Shock is slowly but surely replaced by rage. You hurl your thimble across the room. You tear up paper money into shards, throwing them into the air, where they rain down upon you like happy confetti. This opposite effect only further infuriates you. You pelt your opponent with houses. You demolish the Bank. You drop-kick the board out the window. Nothing remains but a few scattered Chance cards and a lonely dog.

So if you want to suck at life, land on Boardwalk. You can destroy the game, but only the game can destroy your pride.

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22. Miss an actuator on the Aggro Crag.

You’ve been dominating the arena all day. You rafted faster than anyone in the white water rapids challenge. You BMXed your way through the sand trap as if it were an abandoned beach. You bungeed your way to victory on the aerial deck, planting your feet firmly at the 38′ mark, a new record. And you tore your way through the elastic jungle like a wild, elbow-padded animal.

You’re in the lead. You’re won every challenge, crushing the opposition. You’ve blown past Tommy “Thunder” Lewis and Hannah “The Hammer” McCaffery with a frightening fury not seen since your Wild and Crazy Kids days. Mike O’Malley has called you a “Monsterus Extremeus” on more than one occasion. You broke Moe’s stopwatch. Nothing can stop you now. The win is yours for the taking, and the only thing standing in your way is the Aggro Crag.

Dark and foreboding, it looms over the soundstage with a quiet doom. You stand at the beginning of your identical side of the mountain and gaze up at its summit, its fake rocks and ample handholds taunting you mercilessly. You crouch down into a tiger-like stance, hungry for inevitable victory, practically tasting that gold medal. So what if it’s plastic? It’s not like you’re ever going to take it off.

The signal is given. You take off like a helmeted bat out of hell. You tear up the face of the crag, smacking the targets, barreling past storms of distracting glitter and confetti, brushing styrofoam boulders aside as if they were made out of even lighter styrofoam. You see nothing but the end. Your opponents are tiny, pathetic ants behind you, struggling and blinded by the dizzying array of lights. Your muscles burning, you pull yourself up over the final particle board obstacle, stand up triumphantly, and pound the target with a force previously unseen anywhere within the confines of Universal Studios Florida.

But…why the sudden hush settling over the crowd? Why so many shaking heads? Why is Hannah “The Hammer” so damn excited when she reaches the top? Why is your mother crying? There’s only one way to find out: go to Moe for the official results.

And that’s when you see it. The lonely, dark, unactuated actuator. Sitting there at the bottom of your identical side of the mountain, dejected and forgotten. Your entire existence crumbles in that singular moment. How could you have been so STUPID? You’ve been training for this your entire life! You’re the best damn kickball player in your entire gym class! You even installed a bungee cord in your backyard! Sure, its usage permanently injured your little brother, but such setbacks were all supposed to be worth it in the end! And now, this!

Devastated, you begrudgingly take your place upon the third place platform, tears stinging your eyes. The ONLY way for this to STATISTICALLY happen was for you to come in third on the Crag, and that’s exactly what you’ve done. You can’t even look Moe in the eye. As Hannah “The Hammer” raises her Piece Of The Rock above her head in exuberance, all you can do is hang your head in shame. You have brought nothing but disgrace to Soundstage 21. Just take your third-place BK Knights prize and go.

So if you want to suck, miss an actuator on the Aggro Crag. You may have made it onto Guts, but it turns out that you do do do do not, in fact, have it.

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9. Lose at Jenga.

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There’s no sadder realization than the discovery that all of your board games are missing too many pieces to be played properly. You can’t play Pictionary – the cards have vanished. You can’t play Mousetrap – the man who jumps into the tub is gone. And you can’t even summon up the fiery demons of hell – the whereabouts of the Ouija planchette are currently unknown. Some board game night/s√©ance this is turning out to be.

Suddenly, a long, slender box appears from the mists. A blocky, wooden angel. A tribe of tiny Logs of Salvation, numbering four dozen and six. The answer becomes clear. It’s time to play Jenga.

You eagerly but ever so carefully pull the clear plastic guiding sheath out of the box and gingerly set it upon the table. You hover and fuss around the shaky tower, preening the blocks like a world-renowned sculptor until not a single piece is out of place. There. It’s beautiful. You’re the Michaelangelo of wood, and this magnificent column is your David.

But the time has come to make it…higher.

You begin to play as if this were a job interview for an illustrious contracting position. You remove the blocks one at a time, with both skill and finesse. You evaluate various scenarios, attempting to determine whether you should play it safe by removing a center piece, or take the potentially fateful risk of dislodging what you declare to be a “wiggly” side one. It’s a technical term, you wouldn’t expect anyone else to understand. You run calculations, draw up complex physics formulas, check wind resistance, and analyze the integrity of the wood. You’re not taking any chances. This is Jenga, dammit. It’s not just a game. It’s a game with an obscure, possibly foreign, name. So you know it’s important.

And you just so happen to be dominating this epic battle of strategy and balance. Your hand is so steady, a mountain of crystal could be build upon it, not unlike a display table at Crate and Barrel. You place the little wooden pieces atop their precarious perch, obnoxiously shushing everyone else at the table as you do so. It’s your right. Your privilege.

Higher and higher it grows, reaching towards the heavens, a miniature Tower of Babel. But, much like its Biblical counterpart, your shaky creation has angered the Lord. He’s in a smiting mood, and you and your puny little bricks have fallen directly into his crosshairs. With a shaking hand and a sweaty brow, you delicately place your block onto the pile, but with the entirety of the weight now being supported by a single load-bearing center beam, your efforts are sure to be futile. A slight quiver, a terrifying wobble, and several high-pitched and rather embarrassing shrieks later, your masterful metropolis is gone, leaving nothing but a depressing pile of rubble and the tattered remains of your dreams and dignity.

So if you want to suck, lose at Jenga. You’ll forever be known as the one who couldn’t accomplish the simple task of stacking blocks on top of each other, despite the fact that you first learned this skill all the way back in preschool. Guess the years of practice haven’t paid off after all.

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