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Fun & Games

Did you know 1/11/11 was the 40th anniversary of the card game Uno?

No? Me neither.

But if I’m to believe a couple of guys dressed up as a Wild Card and a Blue #4 who were standing outside Grand Central this morning, it’s true.

Who said one is the loneliest number? I love this game!

I have the BEST childhood memories of playing Uno with my little brother and our grandma. I can remember spending summers at her house in Jersey, sitting in the dining room with its giant wooden chairs.

She was Italian, so every game began with a meal to keep up our strength.  She would buy Entenmann’s lemon pie for me and blueberry crumb for my brother. We’d eat a big ol’ hunk, then we’d break out the cards and play Uno for hours in tournaments that lasted until school started in the fall.

Skip! Reverse! Draw 4! SUCH fun.

Now before you get all, “Awwww,” on me, you should probably know one thing: I cheated my ass off.

(don’t worry, it has since grown back with a vengeance)

You should also know I'm not a dishonest person.  I didn’t initially set out to cheat. In fact, up until my brother was about 5 or 6 years old, I used to just naturally win every single game we played, given our 5 year age difference. But something awful happened when he started the 2nd grade. He got smarter!

So, I turned to a life of crime…

He'd ask all wide-eyed and innocent, “Wanna play Monopoly, Jenny?” Well, sure! And while he turned his back to see what hijinks Gobo was up to down in Fraggle Rock, I’d swap little green houses for big red hotels. And my $50 bills magically became $500s before he could say, “Do not pass Go.”

“Feeling like Scrabble?” Oh yeah! I think I even convinced him that we were supposed to pick eachother’s letters. He never questioned it, even with round after round of letters like XPQZKJY.

“How about a game of Life?” Ab-so-lutely! My little pink and blue peg people multiplied quicker than a wet Gremlin, just so I could collect more cash presents.

“Anyone for Battleship?” This was too EASY! Maybe we played it wrong, but we could never see eachother’s boards, so if F8 was called, suddenly my submarine just scooted across the ocean. Nobody’s sinking MY battleship!

But Uno? Ah, that one really made me flex my phony muscles. It was the ultimate cheating challenge. No board.  No tiny pieces to manipulate.  No paper money to steal.  The real key with Uno was that I always volunteered to shuffle.

Never trust the shuffler.

As the cards made shuffling sounds, I’d quickly slide the good ones onto my lap with my pinky and then pepper them back into the deck so they would come up every 3rd card.  When I dealt, starting on my left, I'd be flush with picture cards and they'd have nothing but numbers. I was like a budding Penn & Teller with my sleight of hand.

Keep in mind, I was like, 12 at the time. But the fun and games came to a SCREECHING halt one day when we were playing Life and my brother caught me with my hand in the money pot. Hoo boy. That was not my finest hour. 

But I think it was a growing experience for us both. He came to realize he could kick my cheating ass, in more ways than one (or uno, if you prefer). And I came to realize that nobody likes a cheater.

Lesson learned!

I don’t cheat at games anymore.  Mainly because they all watch me like a hawk.  I'm pretty positive that the minute my brother reads this blog post, he's going to fire off an email to me (he maaay still be a little bitter). But I do hope he will also remember the fun times we had as kids playing games like Uno.

I can't wait to eat pie and play games with his kids too. And I promise NOT to teach them how to play "Aunt Jenny Style."

What was YOUR favorite game to play (or to cheat)?  Confess below...

tags: family, jersey, pop culture


Anonymous said...

LOL! OPERATION!!! I used to stick my hand underneath and pull the batteries out when it was my turn to extract The Funny Bone.

Anonymous said...

I used to move the spinner when I played Twister but I was an Only Child. So the game was not that interesting to begin with and I was only cheating myself. This might be a good topic for my next session with my shrink. ;)

Anonymous said...

If this is the worst you did as a kid..... you were a pretty good kid. What was your favorite game to play when you were your brother's age and everyone gave you the illusion that you should always win?

Jenny From The 'Brook said...

Anon #1 & #2: Awesome. SO glad to know I wasn't the only one!

Anon #3: My favorite game for a while was Old Maid. The irony is not lost on me...