Monday, August 20, 2007

Scattergorically Untrue


This past weekend I was playing a game of Scattergories with some friends. For those who might not be familiar with the game, you are losers. It’s an awesome game, tried and true. I can’t believe you’ve never played it. Your parents must hate you.

The rules of the game are as follows: Everyone gets the same list of 12 categories (anything ranging from “historical figures” to “things that bounce”). Then someone roles a huge 20-sided die with all the letters of the alphabet on it, except for Q U V X Y and Z because back in the 50’s those letters were deemed Communist, thus unable to participate in games, except for Scrabble because Scrabble isn’t a game it’s a way to prove that you are better than the person to your right. Then, a timer is set and everyone must come up with a word beginning with the specified letter by the roll of the die. People are encouraged to come up with unique answers because identical answers from two players cancel each other out for a total of zero points awarded. (This is also embarrassing because it represents your mundane similarities to other people playing the game, like Sally who one time answered “all-purpose” for “a type of flower.”

So the game is going along well and I am winning by a narrow margin. It comes to the final round and the letter rolled is “T.” The timer is set and everyone begins writing feverishly. It is deceptively hard to come up with “T” words despite the letter’s commonality. It’s like a normal pretty girl who gets completely overlooked because she doesn’t dress sexy or curse. I can tell people are struggling, but I need to lock it up. The timer clicks. Everyone stops. I am confident.

Everyone begins reading off their answers, category by category. I am racking up points, but so is everyone else. “Tennis shoes,” “tees,” “Tiny Tim.” The competition is fierce. Finally, we get to one of the last categories: Things that you hide.

“Thongs.” OK, not bad.

“Tampons.” Good (albeit potentially gross) answer.

Brooke chimes in with “titty tassels.” Brooke is my girlfriend, if you forgot. Just wanted to remind everyone. I challenge the answer, asserting that titty tassels, in their very nature, are meant to be shown off. She counters by claiming that if a girl wore titty tassels, say, for work, she wouldn’t just leave them lying around her apartment when she got home at night. She would, in fact, hide them. I concede before she can add anything terrifying like, “Trust me, when I was 19 and working my way through college…”

Finally, it is my turn. I’m proud of my answer, and I say it proudly:


There is a pause in the room (as there always in for greatness) followed immediately by rising suspicion which crescendos quickly into a burst of doubt and derision. I think someone actually calls me an asshole. I am immediately defensive, screaming, “Are you kidding me? You’ve never heard of ‘hiding your tears.’ It’s a hallmark of literature, of poetry, of film, of (and I am impassioned here) goddamn life! Show me one person in this room who has never attempted to hide their tears and I will show you a person who is hiding the truth (which would have been another great answer)!” This was perhaps a bit over the top, but I believed in my answer.

After much debate, I was overruled. Even my mom voted against me, and she wasn’t even playing. I was crestfallen – not just because everyone voted against me, but because I was playing with people of such a limited scope. I mean, the category itself is arbitrary, and my answer wasn’t exactly “outside the box.” It’s not like I said “Tortured memories from childhood” or “testicular cancer” (What, you show yours to everyone?) The concept of “hiding” tears is germane to the notion of experiencing sadness in every classical sense of the experience. Indeed, when we “choke back tears,” we are attempting to hide them from those around us. Any boy who has ever been laughed at for accidentally putting his jock on backwards in the locker room understands the concept of hiding one’s tears. And to prove this to you, I have evidence. From THROUGHOUT HISTORY (yeah, mom, try arguing with history). Herewith, seven Google search results concerning hiding tears:

1. Nick Cave, “Still In Love”

“Hide your eyes, hide your tears, Hide your face, my love”

Synopsis: It is a love song written by an Australian who has a scar on his face from a knife fight with an ex-girlfriend. I’ll let you dispute the connotations of “hide your tears” with him.

2. “Will I Ever Know You” (a prayer, courtesy of

You share smiles, laughter, moments in time. You share warmth, concern and care. You share the brightest part of you. But do I really know you? You hide your feeling, your passion, your commitments. You hide your tears and troubles. You hide your soul, your greatness, your beauty. Do you see I want to know you? You make me laugh, you lift my soul. You make me feel and believe and wonder. Behind a curtain your spirit dances. Will I ever know you?

Synopsis: Maybe you want to take it up with a higher authority, like the people over at ePrayer, or, oh I don’t know, GOD?

3. Yahoo Answers:

Yahoo Answers

Synopsis: . . .

4. Fireside Harp (Track #3 “Hide Your Tears”)

Fireside Harp

Synopsis: The album may only have a sales rank of 786,880 (approximately 3 copies every 400 days), BUT how many albums have you sold in the past 400 days? More than 3? I didn’t think so.

5. Freddie Prinze Poetry Tribute Page:

(an excerpt from Sweet Laughter Man)

My Sweet Laughter Man
Why did you hide your tears?
Didn't you know I was there to hold your hand?
How I wish I had been there to calm your fears.

Synopsis: Not to be confused with his son, Freddy Prince, Jr., Freddie Prinze Sr. was a young comedian back in the 70’s who enjoyed brief fame in Hollywood. According to Wikipedia, “One of his most famous impressions was of his Puerto Rican apartment building superintendent who, when asked to fix a problem in the building, would say with a thick accent: "Eez not mai yob." The line became a national catch phrase in the early 1970's." (This proves that the 70’s were more boring than we remember then.)

Prinze starred in the hit TV show “Chico and the Man” before committing suicide, but not before giving us Freddie Prinze Jr., who, in turn, gave us “She’s All That.” So in a way, denying the validity of hiding your tears is a disgrace to “Kiss Me,” which is an awesome song.

It’s so overused that it is a cliché commonly used in B-grade internet short story writing.

6. Harry Potter Stories:

(an excerpt from Someone to Die For by Ella Norman)

I turned away, trying to hide my tears. I didn’t want it to end, but I couldn’t see any other way out. Ron cleared his throat gruffly. I looked up at him for the first time in a few minutes and was surprised to see that his eyes too were filled with tears. The end. This was the end.

“W-wait,” Ron said desperately, his voice quivering with anxiety.

“No, Ron!” I said hysterically, almost sobbing. “No, it can’t be!”

“Not that,” he said, his eyes honest and true. “If we can’t be together, can we – can I … just one – one last kiss to remember? Before we go our separate ways, trying to not to hurt each other? One final kiss to remember you by?”

Synopsis: This website full of user submitted stories relating to Harry Potter records over 40,000,000 hits per month, which is authoritative in its own rig– Wait, did Ron just ask Harry for one final kiss to remember him by? This isn’t how I remember the story going. Is “Hogwarts” a metaphor for something? I think I need to reread these.

7. Letters of Pliny the Younger (A.D. 62 – A.D. 113) Letter To Nepos

But when she [Arria] spoke and acted thus, she had the prospect of glory and immortality before her; how far greater, without the support of any such animating motives, to hide her tears, to conceal her grief, and cheerfully to act the mother, when a mother no more!

Synopsis: Long story short, this woman’s son and husband caught a deadly cold. When the boy died, her husband was still struggling for his life she lied to him, every day, convincing him that his son was still alive so he wouldn’t lose the will to live.

Some time after that, her husband, Caecina Paetus, was condemned to death by an emperor who didn’t approve of his allegiance to a previous emperor. Back in those days, you were kindly given the option to kill yourself instead of being executed. This was seen as more honorable; however, Paetus could not bring himself to do it. So Arria ran up next to him, took the knife and plunged it into her chest proclaiming "Non dolet, Paete!" (“It does not hurt, Paete.”) And they died. Together. After their son died. And you know what she didn’t do as she performed this heroic act of selfless love? Cry. Because she hid her tears. Oh, wait, sorry. There’s no such thing as hiding your tears. I guess she was just cold and emotionless. Yeah, she seems like that kind of woman.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should play with my family. Just about any answer counts that you can somewhat justify.


Category: Things you replace
Letter: F
My brother's answer: Friends

August 20, 2007 at 2:50:00 PM EDT  
Blogger David said...

At least he didn't say "Family"

August 20, 2007 at 3:16:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous simon said...

Dan, this is the story of my Scattergories life. Creative gets shot down. This is because people suck, don't you know.

August 20, 2007 at 3:49:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm still trying to get past the fact that Brooke mentioned "titty tassles" in front of your Mother.

August 20, 2007 at 4:03:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I so would've aruged thongs! You know, that whole peek-a-boo thing that girls do with their's ghastly, yet totally done on purpose!

August 20, 2007 at 4:13:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes creative word play or dare I say genius is just not recognized by the masses.

I think the Coco Cabana Bananas/Pina Colodas had something to do with it all. Wait, maybe is was the influx of Tangerine Martinis.....

August 20, 2007 at 5:20:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Airam said...

This was great!

And I totally would've voted for your answer ... it was ingenious.

August 20, 2007 at 5:55:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Daily Dump caliber post!

August 20, 2007 at 6:25:00 PM EDT  
Blogger kate said...

We played with my family once, and the letter was T, but my grandmother got confused for the "Four letter word" blank and started, apparently, thinking of other four-letter words she knew....and wrote "Fuck". Go grandma.

August 20, 2007 at 7:08:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, Dan. I love Scattergories! I used to play with my ex who was not the best reader. The letter was N... the category was "things you shout" and he was so proud of his answer "neighbor". I looked at him like he was a moron... he thought the category was "things you shoot". We're not together anymore.

August 20, 2007 at 7:31:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous nancypearlwannabe said...

You gave her "titty tassles" and she didn't even back you up on "tears"? That's cold, man.

August 20, 2007 at 10:05:00 PM EDT  
Blogger shaygo said...

this is exactly why i love/hate this game--i get realy excited to come up with creative answers like "things that are cold" using the letter "O"? Old people -- obviously.

some people have a hard time recognizing brilliance when it's right in front of their faces. i would have been on team tears.

August 20, 2007 at 10:26:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tears would be something you hide when you're an adult but if you're a kid heck a baby they do not hide their tears. But given that you went out of your way....way out to show you are right, I would still say you wrong just to drive you nuts. Kuddos to your mom for going against you.

August 20, 2007 at 10:37:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Ki Two said...

Man, you got hosed. Good luck next time.

August 20, 2007 at 11:12:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Steven said...

Wow. I never knew someone who did research over a boardgame. Now, I do.

August 20, 2007 at 11:21:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

Your answer would have gotten by my Congress.

That was some heavy-duty research you did to support your answer too. Even my waste-my-time-writing-about-minutia ass has to tip its hat. Wait, my ass doesn't wear a hat. In any event, good post.

August 21, 2007 at 12:21:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Caitlyn said...

You're really upset about losing that game, aren't you?

I've heard rumors of a "dirty" Scategories too. Will have to look for that one.

August 21, 2007 at 12:28:00 AM EDT  
Blogger caleb said...

My tactic: back people up for ridiculous answers that were mostly just intended as jokes. They'll never get the points, so you don't reward them in the game, but you do get them on your side, and they'll want to reward you the next time you have a contentious answer.

Whereas if they all have grudges against you for your draconion arguments, they'll argue against you even with great answers like "tears".

August 21, 2007 at 3:14:00 AM EDT  
Blogger sid said...

I've never heard of this game before. I don't think its available in South Africa. But we've got plenty of corruption in SA ....

August 21, 2007 at 10:33:00 AM EDT  
Blogger DevilsHeaven said...

Um, yeah, I can't believe you didn't get that one. Hiding tears is why tons of women run to the bathroom to cry. It happens in just about every chick flick, hello.

August 21, 2007 at 11:00:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Sarah said...

I think it was a great answer. and i'm sure you are hiding your tears whilst you write this too! Let it out Dan, let it out!

August 21, 2007 at 1:36:00 PM EDT  
Blogger mindy said...

Tuberculosis on an airplane! Did anyone say that one?

August 21, 2007 at 3:01:00 PM EDT  
Blogger No Conclusions said...

One of the best posts you've written in a long long time.

...But don't think that our laudation is excuse enough for you to disappear for an inordinate amount of time. Even three days is too long to wait for a post. Ya dig?

August 21, 2007 at 6:15:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

August 21, 2007 at 11:06:00 PM EDT  
Blogger HomeImprovementNinja said...

Let it go, man. You don't want to be THAT guy, who 20 years later is still upset about the "Hand of God" goal in the Argentina vs. Britain world cup match, or the guy who is still upset that those two goals against the Rangers were disallowed in the Stanley Cup of (98?) because one of the opposing players skated over the crease.

Don't let your hatred consume you. Otherwise, you'll be like Darth Vader and get a cool laser sword.

August 22, 2007 at 9:25:00 AM EDT  
Blogger k said...

We no longer play Scattergories in my family because of the screaming debates that followed each round.

I am not kidding.

We had to put it away.

Last Christmas, we rented a vacation home and the house came with Scattergories and we took it out, thinking that we'd all probably matured a LOT in ten years.

We hadn't.

August 24, 2007 at 6:02:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Cath said...

I wouldn't have expected "tears" to be such a contentious answer. But I think I would have said "track marks."

August 25, 2007 at 10:48:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The title of this entry is very funny; funny in a way that makes me very angry.

August 27, 2007 at 4:54:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Gilliebean said...

I totally would have given you "tears." That's kind of deep, if you think about it. You should play with my sister. For the category "Athletes," she would just put down some chick who played on her high school volleyball team. "What? She's an athlete, isn't she?"

August 28, 2007 at 2:01:00 PM EDT  

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