SET? No! SET? No! And other games with the family

I married into a family that plays games. And they like to play the games only late into the night, say, after 10:30, when we have put our kids to bed and my brain starts to rapidly shut down.

The setting for these games is usually at a family gathering, such as the beach house we rented this summer for a week at the Jersey Shore with 8 adults and 10 kids ranging from age 13 to my niece who just turned one, figured out how to walk while we vacationed,  and likes to scream – a lot.

More on that in another post. Maybe.

Have you ever played SET? This is a game that, according to the manufacturer works both sides of the brain: left brain logical skills and right brain spatial skills opening up pathways to creativity.  In plain English, you are dealt cards with squiggles and diamonds or ovals, red, purple or green, striped, outlined or filled in. There are one, two or three shapes to a card. When you find three cards with all the same characteristics, or all different, you have a SET.

That’s if you can get a SET before your daughter finds one, or your sister-in-law, a MIT and Columbia graduate, finds one. For me, I just stare at those cards until I can’t see straight. I just can’t compute fast enough.  My daughter is apparently *extremely* good at SET, she played it all the time at camp, as pictured above.  We talked as her pile of SETs nearly toppled over. I didn’t have a SET to my name.

“Who did you play SET with?” I ask her.

“Anyone who would play with me,” she replied.

Then, after a pause, she added, “but after a while, no one wanted to play with me anymore.”

Then there’s Boggle. Have you ever watched an episode of King of the Hill, where the mother enters the Texas all-state Boggle championship? Well, she couldn’t hold a candle to my husband’s sisters and parents Boggle skills.  This is cut-throat, take ’em to the ground no mercy Boggle, as most games are played in the family.

Last time we played Boggle was at a holiday gathering at my in-law’s house out in Long Island. The Boggle board is shaken, and someone runs over to the microwave to set the timer for 3 minutes, 10 seconds. That is because someone long ago lost the sand timer and the family on principle has not replaced it with a new one. So the 10 extra seconds allows time for that one player who has to set the microwave to run back to the chair at the kitchen table and pick up their pencil.  Ten seconds are up, then it’s time to GO!

My husband and his sisters write furiously, as a novelist would if he broke through writer’s block in a chapter of a novel.  My brothers-in-law and I, the folks who married into this clan, jot down a word or two and then  look up at each other for a second, shrug and give one another sympathetic looks.

My mother-in-law never really plays. She says she’s just going to knit or watch TV. Until we sense that she is standing over us, looking over our shoulders. After we go around and cancel each other’s HEES or HAWS, or PAWS, my mother in law finds the one eight-letter word on the board. Like SQUEALED.

My husband says that games are good healthy fun. But losing all the time is just no fun and that’s why when it is time for gametime with the in-laws, I’m going to start curling up with a BOOK.

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About stacylynngittleman

I have been a reporter and public relations professional for over 30 years, specializing in profile features and investigative longform writing. During my career I've profiled WWII Honor Flight Veterans, artists and musicians and have written on topics that range from environmental and gun control issues to Jewish culture. Click around on my writing samples plus read my blog on my personal life raising three kids over 27 years and three cities.

One response to “SET? No! SET? No! And other games with the family”

  1. Jennifer Kim says :

    Too funny Stace!! My mother loves Boggle. She was always going around the house asking, “Who wants to play Boggle?” She was thrilled when my brother or I said OK, with a big eye roll…then..she started “practicing” which is playing by herself! Wonder if Mrs. Gittleman secretly “practices” to get those eight letter words!!
    I love how the Gittlemans give themselves 10 secs. to get back to the chair..that’s hillarious!!


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