The Younger Games

My cyber friend Vanessa (One Thousand Single Days) posted a blog entry the other day entitled “Sometimes I Play This Game”.  Here is an excerpt:

Sometimes I play a game.
In the game you guess the lives of the strangers around you. For example, the man using the pay phone with the glasses on the end of his nose is a security guard who stands in front of his full length mirror at night quick drawing his walkie talkie and quoting from “Lethal Weapon“.

 Everyone has a secret life, things they do when no one is looking. In this game you guess it. You make it up…

Here is my comment to Vanessa:

I played this game a lot as a kid. For example, I’d be in Kmart with my mom, and I’d pick someone to feel sorry for. Like, in line, I’d focus on an older lady and think–I bet she has no one at home…I hope her kids visit her…I hope she has enough food to eat…Does she have a cat? She needs a cat to warm her lap…I was such a maudlin child. I love that your characters have a wider-albeit bizarre-range. I think I’ll play your version this week:)

Her post reminded me of all of the games I would play as a kid, from the typical to the downright weird.

hide_and_seekI loved all the variations of tag/hide-and-seek that we played. At school, we played Ring Out on the black top during recess. One person would have to tag everyone and bring them to base. However, if you were not caught, you could set everyone free by tagging the base and shouting, “RING OUT!” At home, we played a hide-and -seek version of this called “Freedom All”. Everyone would hide, and when identified (“I see Timmy underneath Mr. Mason’s truck.”) would walk to base, which was a speed limit sign near the curb. Anyone not caught could touch the base before being tagged and yell “Freedom All!” Whoever charged the base usually gave it a good whack. Then, everyone would scatter to the reverberating sound of wongwongwongwong echoing in the street. It was always a highlight to be the one to save the day and free everyone. There were many other variations of such games: “Kick the Can“, “Ghost in the Graveyard“…

These were typical games that would help us wile away the hours spent outside. However, there were other, more obscure games. When I was in first grade, I was obsessed with The Six-Million Dollar Man. I was in awe of his bionic powers and would act out scenes from his adventures for hours–including his spacecraft’s horrendous plummet to the earth . One day, a girl down the street asked if she could play with me. When I told her I was Steve Austin, she insisted on being Jamie Sommers (The Bionic Woman). I made her audition by pretending to pop a tennis ball in her hand, then we made up some cheesy song about how much Jamie and Steve loved each other–I still remember the lyrics (Jamie and Steve are walking together, Jamie and Steve are singing this song–repeat 7,000 times). But the bionic version I loved to play involved my younger brother and sister. We called it Cung-ung-ung-ung, so named because of the sound effect of Steve using his bionic arm. We LOVED Cung-ung-ung-ung. In hindsight, it probably looked like we were gyrating all over the yard, acting out our bionic battles in slow motion. We also had special sound effects for Jamie and Steve jumping over the fence (Whooooooop) then landing on the other side (Whooooooop) and for Steve seeing amazing distances out of his eye (Bwooop/ Bwooop/ Bwooop). I think our game, and both of the shows, jumped the shark when the Fembots came on the scene–we could never find so many villains to play with us.

Another weird game involved making leaf houses. Someone’s mom was clearly a genius because she suggested we rake the leaves into piles and “make a game out of it”. Challenge accepted. Five of us raked the leaves into lines and then we created a leaf house. This was awesome because our leaf houses were always huge. My favorite part was that I was always had my own room–no sharing it with four brothers. I loved my room–even if my furniture blew away each day.

There was also a lot of role playing when we were young. We did the usual cowboys and indians, and cops and robbers, but having thestarsky and tv overactive imagination that I did, I would also play such roles by myself. I had a paper route when I was ten. I delivered the paper in the afternoon on my bike, but every other week, I would have to collect money from the customers door-to-door. I dreaded collecting, and often I had to do it in the dark. To pass the time, I would pretend I was a private detective on a case. This would have been around the time of Starsky and Hutch. I would speak into the collar of my jacket, as if I was communicating with headquarters: “Suspect was last spotted in this vicinity. I’m approaching the house now. If I’m not out in five minutes, send in back up.”

Recently, my sister reminded me of another game we used to play that made me laugh and cringe. Whenever we went to our grandparents’ houses we could drink soda. Grandmom always had Coke and Nana always had Pepsi. My Nana also had lots of snacks for us, too: pound cake, Pringles, pretzel sticks. Kristen and I used to pretend we were “smoking alcoholics”–taking drags off of our pretzel rods and shaking our glasses of ice, begging for one more drink. Full disclosure: this was when Dallas was all the rage, and Sue Ellen‘s drinking problem was seriously out of control. We didn’t plan on playing this game, but whenever we were at Nana’s and our soda glasses were empty, our inner-Sue Ellens would just appear.

This past week, I read a blurb in the paper that Lee Majors (Steve Austin) was guest starring on the new Dallas as Sue Ellen’s love interest. Talk about a time warp. Say it ain’t so, Steve. Say it ain’t so.


  1. Haha! I laughed out loud at your ‘inner Sue-Ellens’.
    I enjoyed reading this post, and reminiscing about the games I used to play. I like your undercover detective one. I was a fan of horses as a youngster. Whenever I took a toilet break during class time, I would gallop to the toilets, riding one of my ‘collection’ of horses! One day I was spotted. Someone asked why I was running ‘funny’. Oops!
    Speaking of Lee Majors, my dad was a major Fall Guy fan. I remember watching it every week as a young kid. 🙂


  2. Ally, Thanks for reading! I think everyone plays weird games as a kid–and gets caught as you did on the way to the toilet:) Fall Guy was another great show. Seems like Lee Majors has had a pretty long run, huh?


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