Sunday, July 17, 2016

Folly of Word Nerds

Because being on a screened porch strung with fairy lights while a July rain falls just outside is a practically transcendent way to wile away an evening.

That the gentle night also involved mocking, condescension and outright compliments only attests to our unlikely activity: my first foray into the oh-so popular game that's swept the nation.

You read right, last night I was introduced to Cards Against Humanity.

That's right, I killed new age music. How, you ask?
...An ice pick lobotomy.

It wasn't the plan. That had been determined months ago and consisted of dinner and "The Merchant of Venice" at Agecroft. Given the play's talking points about Jewish-ness, I'd chosen Dinamo for its fusion of Jewish and Italian food.

He Who Shall Not Be named (aka Mr. Google Scheduler) had us there before the propeller even began spinning. Naturally, we were the first eager beavers in the place other than staff. Ouch.

Not that I cared once I was sharing octopus salami that looked like paper-thin slices of a jeweled window and tasted  like a seaside meal or polishing off my own cold plate of marinated seafood salad of mussels, clams, shrimp and octopus. Keeping it simple, I finished with a Nutella cookie and we left for Agecroft.

We were a well-oiled machine, seated, with new Shakespeare fans in hand when the entire audience was directed inside due to "pool rules." Thunder and lightening were fast approaching and they didn't want any of us good patrons to be electrified, as house manager Noah so quaintly put it.

A brief wait, a decision to go back outside and begin and then the cold, hard facts. The show was called.

So, you see, it wasn't like we didn't try to get some culture before descending into the gutter of sexually offensive and politically incorrect conversation.

It was my first time on the porch since it had been fully tricked out, meaning I couldn't help but admire all the little touches - Wellies by the door, cushioned chairs of various styles, tables with candles and lamps, flowering plants and antique window frames.

The sole male commented that the ledge covered in necessaries - various bug sprays for body and room, aloe if you did get a bite, sunscreens of myriad strengths - was the only jarring note in an otherwise lovely space, but I disagreed. Vehemently.

A screened porch is an outdoor room, but also a utilitarian one. Such a ledge was completely appropriate, in my opinion, because all the assorted sundries you could possibly require while enjoying the porch were readily available. You never had to leave the porch to stay comfortable.

Decorating roundtable finished, we got down to the serious business of cracking each other up.

As a CAH virgin, I immediately was curious about the fact that there were black and white cards. You mean like the races? Setting the tone for the evening, my hostess arched an eyebrow and announced without so much as a chortle, "All cards matter."

Not going to lie, we had all kinds of fun trying to figure out what combination would win the favor of the round's card czar (or, more accurately, czarina, since men were outnumbered 3 to 1), taking into account who leaned toward corny and who always opted for sick or intellectual humor.

A girl's best friend?
...David Bowie flying in on a tiger made of lightening

Brilliant, right? Okay, but so is this one:

A girl's best friend?
...Licking things to claim them as her own

Turns out this game's underlying purpose is encouraging players to inadvertently remember things or share personal history. Now I know I have a friend who's not ashamed to say she's a territorial licker.

Sorry, teacher, I couldn't finish my homework because of...sniffing glue.

"Oh, yea, I remember that," one of the participants says. I wouldn't have pegged her for the glue-sniffing type, but who am I to judge? That said, no one would admit to being "balls deep in a squealin' hog" when that came up as an answer, but the night was still young then.

I soon learned that some black cards came with two blanks, necessitating each of us to choose not one, but two phrases that best completed the sentence.

The Academy award for...flightless birds 
Goes to...battlefield amputation

To have two such disparate cards in your hand, much less to combine them so cleverly, well, kudos to me.

Although we'd begun playing around 9:30, it was probably sometime around midnight (post-Pimm's pops, Pimm's cups and Miraval) when we got our first card with three blanks.

"Having to come up with three cards is gonna take forever," our hostess warned, specifically looking at a certain slow player. "We're slow with two! We're good with one, one card, that's it."

What's George Bush thinking about right now?
...Not reciprocating oral sex
...Fiery poops
...Third base

Plausible, all of them, right?

As the night wore on, we especially enjoyed questions that referred back to the person asking. So when I read, "What's my anti-drug?" the friend in the colorful dress exclaimed, "Yours?" and stares at me as if she can discern it from my countenance.

Ultimately, it led to a big discussion of what exactly constitutes an anti-drug. That's one we didn't fully resolve.

After a while, I knew my competitors well enough to tickle their fancies with my answer, as when the formerly soggy one delighted at my response to his card.

I got 99 problems but...Count Chocula...ain't one.

Oh, he laughed. Man, if you only knew how long I held onto the Count Chocula card before finding the ideal place to drop it. A far better player, though, was the Bermudian, who caused us to about lose it when she proffered this:

Daddy, why is Mommy crying?
...The patriarchy

When I read the card, "What is my secret power?" a friend looked askance. "That's the question? I was about to answer!" No, please, tell me my superpower. I'm curious.

Looking at the answers submitted, the Czar mused, "It's between inappropriate yodeling and Toni Morrison's vagina," a sentence I would stake my life on has never having been uttered before in the history of humankind.

One minute we were playing, laughing almost constantly and next thing we knew it was after 1 a.m., and this is not a crowd that stays up late. With that in mind, I got up to leave, a different person than when I'd arrived.

Of course I didn't win, but I didn't do too badly, either. There's already talk of procuring other versions since we practically went through an entire box of black and white cards in one marathon session. Cards Against Humanity may be five years old to the rest of the first world, but it was brand new fun for me tonight.

Let's put it this way: I understood the game well enough to find my seatmate's two-part answer absolutely hilarious.

Step one...folly of man
Step two...Cards Against Humanity

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