I masked my feelings about this my entire life, tried to live up to the expectation. I pretended that I was cool with it. But in a conversation with a friend today, I blurted it out for the first time:
"I hate card and board games."
I had no clue how freeing it would feel to say that without fear of being thought of as incapable, inflexible, unsociable, a poor team player, a party pooper, an unworthy guest.
Those self-condemning fears are what kept me playing another round of cards until I thought the drop of my head would split the table in two. I listened to people fight to the death over whether or not the sand in the hourglass had depleted before the play and argue that the flick of a sticky spinner counted as a full spin. I watched as two people debated the meaning of rules while another scanned them like a district attorney reading penal law, shouting excerpts.
It all made me want to raid the liquor cabinet with a straw.
I think I felt most powerless and socially estranged when I was a child and Mom and Dad brought me with them when they visited a relative's house, or we entered a stranger's home and I was introduced to a potential friend.
It was never awkward enough going into an unfamiliar home. The mother always had to say, "Sweetie, why don't you bring Margaret downstairs and show her our entire collection of board games?
As an adult, I can now rationalize that she had no way to know that she'd just suggested her daughter suck the life out of me. I did not dare show my feelings because the mother would then peg me for a kid who was headed for trouble. Only bad kids did not love to play board games. And only kids destined to be followers, not leaders, would fail to absorb every excruciating detail of the instruction booklet. (Now one needs to wade through three languages to find English.)
My new-friend fantasy conversation went like this:
Me: I hate board games.
New friend: Yes, and cards!
Come to think of it, this detail should be established in the Pre Cana questionnaire (think of the mismatched marriages that would be prevented.) It should be discussed in job interviews. Heck, let everybody know what they are getting into.
I attended a training seminar a few years ago. Retail manager training seminars have specific challenges, like standing up after your circulation has stopped and, being rated on role plays. No matter how interesting the speaker is, your blood has pooled, and, unlike a retreat, you cannot disappear and sleep off a session or run around the block. No. The day ended when every last drop of coffee was fed intravenously and the ashtray outside the building was brimming with half-smoked cigarettes.
After a sit-down dinner, we were led into the socialization phase, you know, to have fun.
The venue for that was table after table of board games...
I met a couple of neighbors recently who, in our transient world, I see only as we drive in opposite directions. The couple is much younger, but we had an enjoyable conversation. They invited us to get together, and I thought maybe we would sometime. They invited us to join them some Thursday night when they get together with a bunch of friends to test out new board games.
That is probably not going to happen.