The Smarts against the Dumbs


‘Show me a kid who grows up playing games, and I’ll show you a grownup who knows how to play games.’

If you have the good fortune to have access to the New York Times on Sunday (forgive the local journalistic boosterism), then you may already be familiar with a feature called ‘Sunday Routine’. New Yorkers of all stripes, including Jim Grant (better known as Lee Child), are asked about their, um, Sunday routines. Heady stuff.

Most of the New Yorkers profiled here, interestingly enough, do much the same as me and everyone else on a Sunday: read the paper, and drink coffee. (‘Lee Child’ drinks even more coffee on Sunday than I do, and that’s saying something.)

Well. I was giving this week’s piece (about some landscape designer or whatever) a perfunctory skim when I noticed her saying that her son wakes her every Sunday with a demand to play ‘Sorry!’. I felt an immediate connection with Whatshername, even though she’s decades younger and lives in a row house in Queens. And it was all about that demand to play a game.

When I was a kid — and even when The Child was actually a child — games were a big deal. I don’t, alas, have photographic evidence, but I swear on a stack of Scrabble dictionaries that we did in fact play hours and hours of Sorry! Also Clue (Miss Purple in the library with a candlestick, anyone?) and Monopoly. (I liked to ‘be’ the iron, for some strange reason.) Board games were big. Very big. And, of course, there was Scrabble. But before I get into Scrabble, let’s talk about cards. Continue reading