Monday, December 21, 2009

Family Party Games From My Childhood

There were several silly and fun family party games we used to play when I was a child. Let's see if I can list and explain some of them.
  • Zoom, Schwartz, Perfigliano
  • The Dog and the Flea
  • I Drink to Cardinal Puff
  • Button, Button. Who Has the Button
  • Pillow on the Bottom

Zoom, Schwartz, Perfigliano

Zoom, Schwartz, Perfigliano is a game of visual catch. It is simple, but challenging and funny. With at least three, but preferably five or more players seated in a circle, a player starts the game by calling out, "Does anybody here know how to play (that incredibly-delightful-or-some-other-description game called) Zoom, Schwartz, Perfigiano?" At this signal the other players raise their hands and say, "Aye!", and the starter immediately glances at another player and passes play to him by saying "Zoom". The Zoom is passed around continually by glances or stares, with the following additions. If a player wishes to pass the Zoom back, she can either glance back and say "Schwartz", or she can glance at random other player and say "Perfigliano". With the addition of Schwartz and Perfigliano, the game becomes confusing, challenging, and hilarious. A player who makes a mistake is singled out by the other players, who point their elbows at him, simulating laughter by saying "Ah-ah-ah-ahhhh!" and declaring his mistake, which may be any of the following:
  • Hesitation. Breaking the cadence is a mistake.
  • Using one of the words Zoom, Schwartz, or Perfigliano incorrectly. Zooming back to the previous zoomer, Schwartzing other than the previous zoomer (or schwartzer or perfiglianoer), or Perfigliano-ing while looking at the previous zoomer (or schwartzer or perfiglianoer).
After the other players have singled out the tripped up player, that player introduces a new round by saying "Does anybody here...."

The Dog and the Flea

The Dog and the Flea is sheer, delightful chaos. It works best with at least five people.

Players sit closely in a circle. Two common and opposing household items are selected, such as a brush and a comb, a fork and a spoon, or a plate and a bowl. One of the players with good leadership ability is selected as the leader and takes one of the items in each hand, deciding which is to be the dog and which is to be the flea.

Play begins by the leader handing the dog to one of the players next to her and saying, "This is a dog." The receiving player answers, "A what?" without taking the dog. The leader repeats, "A dog." The receiving player then takes the dog and passes it identically to the next receiving player with one twist. When the next receiving player asks "A what?", the first receiving player must "forget" and turn back to the leader, saying, "A what?" until the leader reminds him "A dog," and he passes it back, finally getting to hand the dog to the second receiving player. Forward and onward the dog goes. With each new receiver, the fact that it is a dog is forgotten, and the "A what?" message must go all the way back to the leader, with the "A dog" message returning all the way to the previous receiver before he can pass along the dog.

At the same time the dog is moving around one side of the circle, the flea is moving in the same way around the other side of the circle in the opposite direction. Eventually the dog and the flea cross opposite the leader, and things get very confusing.

The challenge of this game is to get the dog and the flea successfully back to the leader, who ends up sending her own question, "A what?" all the way around the circle to herself and back until the dog and the flea are delivered safely into her hands again with the final words from her two neighbors, "A dog" and "A flea".

I invite you to report to me the largest circle of people and their ages that is able to successfully pass the dog and the flea all the way around.

My Drinks To Cardinal Puff

My Drinks to Cardinal Puff is apparently a drinking game. But my alcohol-free family always enjoyed it with water. Its reliance on a cheap inside joke doesn't spoil the fun of this "follow the leader perfectly" game.

The leader sets a drink in front of him and explains that he invites everybody to see if they can imitate him perfectly. As I understand, one of the objects in an alcoholic environment is to get people drunk silly. This is the ritual the leader performs.

Clears throat. Says, "I take my first drink to Cardinal Puff." Taps left foot once then right foot once. Holds out both index fingers and taps with the left then right in the following ways: own thighs, table edge, wipe moustache. Then bows once and takes a drink.

Clears throat. Says, "I take my second drink to Cardinal Puff." Taps left foot twice then right foot twice. Holds index and middle fingers of both hands and taps twice with the left then twice with the right in the following ways: own thighs, table edge, wipe moustache. Then bows twice and takes two drinks.

Clears throat. Says, "I take my third and final drink to Cardinal Puff." Taps left foot thrice then right foot thrice. Holds first three fingers of each hand and taps thrice with the left then thrice with the right in the following ways: own thighs, table edge, wipe moustache. Then bows thrice and takes three drinks, emptying the glass on the last drink.

Of course it's common that the followers neglect to notice the throat-clearing, which leads to much drinking.

Button, Button, Who Has The Button?

Button, Button, Who Has The Button is a simple game of poker face control for younger children.

Players sit in a circle with a player selected to be "it" in the middle, holding a button. Players in the circle each put their hands together in the form of praying. "It" also puts her hands together in form of praying, with the button hidden between them, then inserts her hands between the hands of each of the other players in turn, saying perhaps "Hold fast all I give you." She drops the button secretly into the hands of one of them.

When "It" has finished the circle, she rises and says, "Button, Button. Who Has the Button?" Then the other players give their opinions (possibly in order around the circle) as to who has the button. The player who identifies which other player holds the button gets to be "It" next.

Pillow on the Bottom

Pillow on the Bottom is a blindfolded guess who game.

A player is selected to be "It", blindfolded, given a pillow, and turned around a few times while the other players secretively swap seats. Then "It" is required to use the pillow as his only means of feeling around until he thinks he has found a lap to sit on. When he is seated on a "lap" he commands, "Make a sound like a [some animal name]". The person nearest to where he is sitting, or whose lap holds him, them makes the requested animal sound, and "It" is required to guess the name of the person who made the noise. Depending on the group, a) "It" must continue until he has guessed somebody's name, at which time that person becomes "It" or b)"It" may continue until he misses guessing somebody's name, at which time the missed person gets to be "It".

Tell me about your own childhood family party games.

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