Janet (j4) wrote,

Games people play

This is cheating a bit, but then I've already set the bar low by resorting to writing about my dreams on day 2, so a meme isn't really much worse, right...?

Rules: Use the first letter of your name to answer each of the following questions. They have to be real . . . nothing made up! If the person before you had the same first initial, you must use different answers. You cannot use any word twice and you can't use your name for the boy/girl name question.

Your name: Janet
A four-letter word: jolt
A boy's name: Julian
A girl's name: Jerilyn (it is a real name, I had a friend at primary school called that)
An occupation: judge
A color: jaune (cheating, I know, but I can't think of a real one!)
Something you wear: jacket
A food: jerky (om nom nom)
Something found in the bathroom: Janet (quite frequently these days)
A place: Janet's house (this is getting desperate)
A reason for being late: Janet going back to get something she forgot
Something you shout: jump!
A movie title: Jaws
Something you drink: juice (preferably grape)
A musical group: 
An animal: jagular
A street name: Jeune Street
The title of a song: Jilted John

This one's a bit of an odd 'meme' (in the sense that we seem to use the word on LiveJournal) because the answers don't seem to have to be anything personal. In fact, it's not so much a meme, as a game. We used to play it at home, and we called it "Fruit Flower" because those were the first two categories on the list. Fruit, flower, boy's name, girl's name, places, that sort of thing. I don't know where the list came from but it got printed out on neat little sheets time and time again, a game that children and adults could play together (though categories like "politician" or "cocktail" tended to be a bit of a lost cause for me as a child). You had to try to get a different word from everybody else, and the points you scored were reduced for every other person who shared your answer: so if 5 people were playing and 4 of them had the same answer, they'd each only score 1 point, but if nobody else had the same answer, they'd score 5 points. The letter for each round was selected by sticking a pin in a page of text with your eyes shut. (This was before the internet! There's probably an app for it now.)

Many years later we got the board game Scattergories for Christmas, and were delighted to find that it was Fruit Flower but with new and better lists (and a timer that went chka-chka-chka-chka-chka-chka for 3 minutes in the most distracting way possible before going off with a deafening BRRRRRRRRING that made you jump and skitter your pencil across the paper). The lists in Scattergories were much sillier, and therefore there was much more leeway for ridiculous answers which could be happily argued over: "something sticky", "something you're afraid of", "something you'd find in the fridge". (The scoring was easier, too: 1 point for a unique answer, otherwise no points.) It was always interesting to see how many times people come up with the same obvious answer, or the same non-obvious answer (second-guessing the obvious answer), or the same in-joke answer. I was delighted the first time the letter 'S' came up for the list containing the category 'something sticky' as it meant I could put "STICK" (it's one of my favourite jokes: Q: "What's brown and sticky?" A: "A stick") ... only to find that at least one other person had thought they were being just as clever by doing the same thing.

At the risk of turning this into the Wikipedia article on category games (Category:Category Games), this game is also featured in an episode of The Simpsons... OK, I lied. Well, it might have been, but I don't know. However, there is a description of the Chalet School girls playing the same game, in A Problem for the Chalet School (1956), as part of an evening's entertainment of 'paper games':
At Rosamund's table, when they had opened their folded slips, they found them headed with a large N and beneath a list as Country, Town, River, Book Title, Girl's Name, Boy's Name and so on. They had to name one of each beginning with the letter N. "Keep them as out of the ordinary as you can," Len warned the others. "If you get names other people have, they're crossed out and won't count." [...]
Unfortunately Wikipedia seems to have deemed the game not notable enough to exist so I don't have a good starting point for finding earlier references to it, but I should imagine it's been around for a long time. People like putting things in categories: women, fire, dangerous things, animals that belong to the emperor, that sort of thing. People like putting things in boxes, tagging them.

A post about categories would have probably been more interesting than this one, but to be honest I'm too tired to do it justice. Put this post in the 'space-filler' category and have done with it. But it's still another day ticked off the list.
Tags: games, memes, nablopomo
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