Quelf with the Family

Random mayhem.

This could describe our weekly family night on occasion but seemed to be the official theme Thursday night when six of us gathered around the table for a game of Quelf. The rest of the family just didn’t have the energy…and it takes a lot to play this game, the gist of which you will understand as you read on.

(Or, if you know us personally, this will give you cause to make the final mark in the pros/cons list you’ve made, Column B: Why NOT to associate with this family.)

First, I wonder if our choice of game piece characters says anything about us. Spending this winter dreaming of running an organic farm in South Carolina made me predisposed to choose The Biscuit Farmer:

art by Matthew J. Luxich

Drawing the “Stunt” card–for which a player is penalized spaces if he doesn’t perform–I had to sing about my biscuit farmer to the tune of an Elvis song. “It’s Christmastime Pretty Baby” was not recognizable to any. I blame the lyrics, not my poor Elvis impersonation.

Too late, my son suggested “You Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog.” Of course! Although it was two turns later, I broke out in “You ain’t nothing but a farmer, hoeing all the time, you ain’t nothing but a farmer, sowing all the time, you ain’t never gonna be organic and you ain’t no friend of the government unless you go along with its definition of organic and its attempts to water down organic rules to help large-scale farmers qualify for organic initiative payments…”

Game play continued, during which:

Meg had to sing a sad song and act like a weeping willow every time someone rolled a four. Patrick played the rest of the game with his elbow stuck to the game board. Keenan–employing some of his innate gifts as a future pastor–took on the persona of a prison guard covered in maple syrup and feathers with his knees superglued together and singing about his condition as if he had no lips.

I could tell you that this was an unusual night for our family…that we were just needing to loosen up and act ridiculous. But I would be penalized several spaces for doing that. Actually, my family may have inspired the original game makers.

Family night game rules:

1. Sharing spaces. If each family member is placed around the family room during normal game play, it is acceptable to share a space. This usually involves Mackenzie sitting on her uncle’s lap while also performing a back bend.

2. Attack. On his or her turn, or maybe just talking over someone else’s turn, a player may cause another to leave the board. For example, Mackenzie begins to tell everyone about her anatomy class field trip to the hospital to watch open heart surgery. Upon saying, “It gave me a taste for steak,” her cousin leaves the living room in disgust.

3. Counter-attack. If that player continues her attempt to clear the game board and knock, say, a male opponent out of play with shocking statements, such as, “After seeing a video of childbirth, I don’t like vaginas,” the targeted player can counter attack by looking at his wife with a mischievous smile and saying, “I do.” This inevitably negates the bold move of the original attacker who leaves the living room in disgust.

4. Stunts. At some point during the evening, my brother and I both discover we can roll and cross our eyes independently of each other (that is, each of our left eyes independent of our right eyes; I mean, obviously I am moving my eyes independently of my brother’s…you get it…). Cool tricks, move ahead three spaces.

WARNING: This game can cause familial conflict. By the end of the night, my children–and my mom–were blaming me that they “aren’t like the other kids.”

I would like to point out, Mother (aka Queen Spatula), that I wasn’t the one singing a lullaby, doing the hula, and waving my arms in a tempting fashion.

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