Sam Wilson

Dicing with death

2004-10-25 12:25

Few things are more awkward than being caught in the crossfire of a couple fight. But a couple fight coupled with a board game... now that's a terrible, terrible thing.

I remember my first Game of Death.

It was my post-matric holiday and my boyfriend and I were spending a few days on a boat with another young couple. What did we do when faced with the open sea, a lot of Malibu and Appletiser, no parents, tiny swimsuits and each other? We played Pictionary.

And because we were young and foolish, we didn't take the necessary precautions. Each couple played together. As using names here would probably be mean, let us call the other pair Couple X.

At some point Boy X was required to draw a "washing machine repairman". He drew a stick man with a peak cap. When the card was revealed, after Girl X had made a couple of fruitless and egg-timer challenged stabs at an answer, my boyfriend and I had a good, amiable chuckle at the useless little sketch. Girl X, on the other hand, found it far from funny.

"That's the REPAIRMAN?" she screamed, hoisting the board off the table, and scattering dice everywhere. "Where's the washing machine? You, you... MORON! You complete... IDIOT! That's it! I never want to see you again! And off she stormed.

The three of us sat looking at each other for a little bit.

"What was that all about?" my boyfriend asked, scratching his head.

'You think I should have drawn his cap on backwards?' asked a cringing ex-Boyfriend X.

'How fast can we get back to shore?' I asked, before going off in search of more Malibu.

The main thing about couple fights is that what you see is very seldom what is actually going on.

Now that I am older and if not wiser, at least much more couple-fight hardened, I can look back and realise that the Pictionary fight was clearly about a lot more than a stick figure.

It was the last straw of a much larger couple inconsistency which had clearly been playing its way to a conclusion of this nature for quite a while.

Slightly worse than the 'what on earth?' board game couple crossfire scenario, is when you have to continue dicing away whilst watching an entire relationship unravel, from beginning to end. Take this example.

Years ago, my partner and I were hosting an evening with old friends, rehashing the excesses of our youth over a game of 30 Seconds.

A card surfaced which enjoined us to describe a "beach holiday" which quickly caused the conversation to turn to a specific beachside holiday flat, which at one stage or another during our university years, we had all used for a dirty weekend away.

'Ooh, god... remember that flat?' giggled one of my friends into her wine. She nudged her husband, who had been her boyfriend during the years in question. 'Remember, Honey? We spent a weekend there... we got so drunk and then you fell off the bed and then...

A hush fell over the table as it became clear that Honey's eyes were not glazing over with fondness, but rather hardening in an unnervingly cold manner.

'Ah, no,' he said tersely. 'That wasn't me. It must have been someone else. But it is your turn. Just... throw.'

Ouch, ouch ouch. The rest of the evening was far from pleasant.

The moral of the story? Playing board games together may seem cute and coupley, but those jolly squares can just as easily lull you into a false sense of security, whilst the cards flip over bits of your buried subconscious... and the little egg timer counts down to disaster.

Be warned.

  • Sam Wilson is a strategist for a customer publishing company and a columnist for a variety of magazines.

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