TALES FROM THE CAVE FAMILY: MORE THAN TV IN THE DEN
My family loved TV. I can easily go through a list of favorites. While we all enjoyed some shows, my dad and my sister were the real fans of the medium. Mom and I were happy reading books, magazines and the paper. We also loved any excuse to go – wherever it was and for whatever reason. For us, TV was more of a team sport. We watched it to be a part of the family.
Last week I told you about the game of musical chairs we played in the den on Wednesday evenings, as the type of programming went from the news, to country music to the paranormal, but Sunday was our big TV night. Though I can’t recall their order, I can tell you the three shows we watched religiously: Wild Kingdom, The Wonderful World of Disney and The Ed Sullivan Show.
Many households turned to Bonanza on Sunday nights, but I can’t say that I’ve ever seen an episode of it. Westerns weren’t really a genre of choice. We’d watch Have Gun Will Travel sometimes and I watched the Rifleman in rerun, but we leaned more to variety shows, documentaries and sports, when Dad was in control. If he abandoned his post, we’d watch Bewitched, Star Trek, Dark Shadows and lots of movies. Dad’s qualifying question for TV shows was, “Is this real?”
While TV was popular with us, we also loved playing games. For many years, we played an old board game called, “Go to the Head of the Class.” You moved along in the game by answering questions and the questions were divided into various age groups. That meant my little sister had just as good a chance of winning as my dad did. However, we loved playing it so much, that eventually we’d all memorized the answers to all the questions at every level.
Our favorite card game was Spades. I’d learned it on a mission trip and taught it to everyone else. Dad and my sister would be partners, so that left Mom and I to plot against them. It really wasn’t a fair match up. Once everyone had bid and played once around the table, my dad could pretty much tell you what everyone had.
That was until I learned about going nillo. A nillo bid meant your team wasn’t supposed to get any tricks and if you managed to pull it off, you got some huge number of points. You could also go blind nillo, which meant you bid nillo before you looked at your cards.
Mom and I got pretty good at playing nillo, primarily because my dad couldn’t wrap his mind around it. It infuriated him that he’d be on the cusp of winning, hundreds of points ahead, and I’d call blind nillo. Over and over again he raged how ridiculous the concept was, but if I hadn’t ended up with both the Ace and King of Spades, then I could usually manage to pull it off. Then we’d win, even though dad had been trouncing us all night long.
What Color Pie Do I Need?
Then Trivial Pursuit was invented and we all loved it. Everyone was on a level playing field, because even my younger sister had her own category where she could wipe the floor with us. It was pretty cut throat and we played it often, but it didn’t matter how often we played it, my dad would always ask, “Now how do you play this game?” To this day, I don’t know whether he just had a hard time understanding it or he was just asking to set us all off. He was capable of that kind of humor.
We’d go through the board and the pies and what you had to do to win, but then there was another kind question he drove us crazy with. He could never remember which colors went with which question and to make it worse, he always confused the colors. To him brown looked like orange and green like blue.
He couldn’t see why in the world he had to answer questions for all the categories. He seemed to think he should be able to fill his pie with blue and yellow (Geography and History), then win the game. “Dad, you’ve already gotten that pie,” was a frequent refrain.
He’d get downright mad when a green question wasn’t related to sports or was instead related to some sport he had no familiarity with – like curling. “Dad, it’s sports AND leisure,” we’d remind him.
Pink was his Waterloo. He’d accuse us of stacking the deck against him with questions we knew he wouldn’t have an answer for. “I’ve never watched that show,” he’d say – as if that mattered. Then he’d accuse us of giving each other easier pink questions than we gave him. “Susan got a question about TV, Jane got a question about the Beatles and your mom answers a question about a musical she’s seen 20 times and you ask me something about some drinking song from the French Revolution? How can that be fair?” It got to the point that we allowed him to pick his own card for his pink questions, or the game would come to a standstill.
In spite of Dad’s antics, we dearly loved the nights when we’d put a card table in the middle of the den and gather around it to play games. My sister and I would give anything to return to those days and play one more round of Trivial Pursuit. We hope with all our hearts that whoever buys this home will make wonderful memories there, just like our family did.