The Recht family does not have many traditions. We don’t go on holiday to any specific place. We don’t do movie nights or Friday night pizza dinners or whatever the fuck most “All-American families” are supposed to do. But if the Recht family has one thing, it is a great passion for games of all sorts, particularly Setback.
Setback is the most addictive game you’ll ever play. I challenge anyone to dislike it after learning — which so far, no one has. This game is the glue that binds my family together. It’s kind of like a rite of passage: you fully become an adult member of the Recht family when you are indoctrinated into the realm of Setback. Other families have heirlooms that they hand down to their children — an old engagement ring, a scarf, what-have-you — but we have this game and it’s our game and it’s the best game in the entire bloody world. When I was a kid, my parents and aunts and uncles would shoo us out of the kitchen, make us go to bed, and then play this game until two in the morning. Now I am one of them, a member of the cult of Setback, and I’m spreading my teachings to the general public.
But this post isn’t about Setback. It’s in defense of every game that has ever existed. It’s about Monopoly and Scattergories and Balderdash and May I and Taboo because oh yes, board — and card! — games are exceptionally fun and that’s why they are called games. I know that not every board game is every person’s cup of tea. But dear god how can a single person dislike every board game that has ever existed? I do not trust people who don’t play board games. As soon as I hear a phrase like “Board games are lame/stupid/boring/[insert negative or derogatory comment here]” my interest in that person screeches to a grinding halt and fizzles out like a poorly made sparkler. I become very concerned about their character, because seriously, how can you hate board games? Do you hate fun? Granted, I could probably be friends with someone who hated board games — okay, maybe just friendly acquaintances — but when it comes to someone who is, at some point, supposed to join up with the rest of the Recht clan, a disdain for board games is a big no-no. Because, really, how can you hate all board games? Is it even possible? If you don’t like word games, there are mystery games. If you don’t like those, you can play strategy games or cards or trivia or party games or anything, because let’s be real: there is a board game for every occasion, for every kind of brain.
There are two kinds of people who hate playing games. The first kind of person is bland, beige, and wholly sans personality. If you ask Bland about anything, they give monosyllabic, monotonous answers. They have no real interests, no concept of the word “fun,” and because of this tend to stick together like an enormous flock of dull-eyed pigeons or latch onto more vibrant, dynamic people, leeching their heart and soul from them bit by teeny tiny bit. The Blands don’t like board games because board games, while not nearly as exciting as white-water rafting or dancing, are inherently fun and interesting and require a person to also be fun and interesting. Have you ever tried to play a board game with a Bland? They suck out all the enthusiasm you may have once had and leave you either irritated beyond belief (best case scenario) or soulless and beige just like them (worst case scenario). These are the people who forget that Apples to Apples is not supposed to be literal and play the word “Chocolate” for “Sweet” and get all offended when you happen to play “Helen Keller” for “Senseless.” Everyone else gets it. Everyone else falls off their seats laughing and Bland sits there, rigid as stone, and says “That’s not even accurate” and then all the joy is gone and Bland becomes The Board Game Grinch who no one ever wants to play with or even be around.
Let it be known that Bland is a person no one ever wants to date, even outside of the board game scenario. They’re awful no matter what, and I’d say (thank god) that they are far less prevalent than the other type of person: the Cool Dude. The Cool Dude is just way too bloody hip for board games. Cool Dude is busy smoking weed or hiking or writing slam poetry or whatever else he finds to be the most respectable (because Cool Dudes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and ages, ranging from bro to hipster to suave businessman). He’s not interested in your silly playtime because board games are for children. And Cool Dude is not a child. Cool Dude is the coolest of the cool, and board games don’t fit under the list of acceptable activities he’s allowed to engage in. The only way he’ll ever join in is if it’s maaaybe poker, and even then only if all his other Cool Dude friends are into it. He thinks that there is nothing more geeky, more silly, and more stupid than playing Clue. This is the kind of person who, even if he thinks Cards Against Humanity may be the most intriguing specimen of game he’s ever encountered, will stick his nose up in the air and say, “No thanks. I’d rather be doing something more my age.” The Cool Dude is worse than the Bland, because Cool Dude is a fucking fake. Crying inside is this little tiny child that wants to get out and play Charades but can’t because some big old mental bully is pinning him down — all because Cool Dude is trying so hard to look impressive.
If there’s anything I can’t stand, it’s people who aren’t honest, and Cool Dude is dishonest, which probably makes him the worse of the two. Bland is just Bland, but who likes Bland anyway? They can stick together and create awful beige babies and maybe claim a patch of land that no one cares about, like Arkansas or Oklahoma, and no one will ever have to deal with them again. But Cool Dudes are everywhere. Although there’s nothing wrong with preferring other activities, playing cards or board games every once in a while allows you to take a breather and have some good old-fashioned fun without overexerting yourself mentally or physically. It’s a good bonding experience with friends and family, and a great way to save what could be a dull, rainy day — or worse. Because of Hurricane Sandy, my family was without power for over a week, and when I got brief, emailed updates from them, my Dad wrote, “We still don’t have power, but we’ve been playing card games all weekend. We’re making the best of it.” And while I understand that maybe Cool Dude’s time is better spent taking foreign language classes or writing the next great novel, every once in a while it is nice to take a breather.
So please, people, stop and think long and hard about who you want to be: a Bland, a Cool Dude, or Just A Regular Human Being. Before you proclaim loudly to the world, “Board games? I hate board games!” you should first consider your happiness, your mental health, and most of all my mental health, and then maybe find something less retarded to say instead.