When I was a kid I really liked board games. And that’s an understatement.
Monopoly. Scrabble. The Game of Life. Parcheesi. You name it, I probably had it.
And I was especially nuts about games that were based on TV game shows. We had the first edition – and many others – of “Password,” “Jeopardy!” and “Concentration.”
I even had first-and-only editions of TV games that didn’t last that long, including “Get the Message,” a Goodson-Todman show hosted by a guy named Frank Buxton, who was also the co-host of an ABC kids’ show called “Discovery” that I watched every weekday.
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Buxton at an old-movie festival.
I told him that I once had the home game of “Get the Message.”
“I didn’t even know they had a home game,” Mr. Buxton said.
I probably got a new game every Christmas. My parents used to hide the stuff downstairs. But I got wise one year when I happened to look down there and see, sticking out from the side of a table, the Ideal toy company trademark – confirming that yes, my parents had indeed bought me the home version of ABC’s “Seven Keys,” hosted by the great Jack Narz.
As we six kids got older we either figured out or were told somehow that (Spoiler alert!) there was no Santa Claus.
So my parents would bring the swag up on Christmas Eve.
I especially remember one such night when my mother emerged from the basement and came toward me holding out a big, rectangular box, with an equally big smile on her face.
The game was “Risk.”
“I knew you wanted it!” she said, and her happiness at giving me what I wanted so badly was so great that I couldn’t bear to tell her that I never wanted it at all.
I’d seen “Risk” advertised, of course, but the goal of the game – which was, basically, conquering the world territory by territory – never appealed to me.
And when we started playing the game, I still didn’t like it much – it was basically, for all its cards and “men” and big board, a dice game. I couldn’t get into dice games. Yahtzee? Not me.
So why did my mother think I wanted “Risk”? As the years passed, I still could never bear to ask her.
I did notice that one of my brothers always seemed to play the game with special enthusiasm. Were I possessed of anything remotely resembling a brain, I would have picked up on the fact that this was a Clue (which happens to be the name of a game I did like, though it took me some years to figure out how to figure out who the killer was, and please don’t tell Mystery Writers of America that or they’ll drum me out of their group with a blunt instrument).
Years later, my brother fessed up: He had told Mom that I “really wanted” “Risk.”
And years later, I still have no urge to invade Irkutsk.