Of or Pertaining to…Love

My daddy was a Baptist preacher.  He favored small country churches in Eastern North Carolina, down where I grew up, whose members were of modest means.  Which meant, of course, that we didn’t have a lot of money to spare, but—dang!—we ate good!  Rachael Ray and Emeril don’t have nothin’ on the dear ladies of the little country churches Down East.  Moist, succulent fried chicken; melt-in-your-mouth pecan pie; buttery flaky biscuits.  Why, it seemed almost…sinful.

But I digress.  Since we didn’t have a lot of material things, we were really good at finding cheap ways to have fun.  One of my favorites was playing Fictionary.  Here are the basic rules from Wikipedia:

Fictionary, also known as the Dictionary Game or Balderdash, is a word game in which players guess the definition of an obscure word.
A turn consists of one player picking a word from the dictionary and each other player composing a fake definition. A round is completed when each player has selected a word to be guessed.
Players earn points (1) by guessing the correct definition of a word, (2) by composing a fake definition that other players guess is the correct one, and (3) as Picker, selecting a genuine word that no players vote for.
The winner is the player who has earned the most points after a pre-determined number of rounds.

The best thing is that all you need to play is a group of people, a dictionary, paper, and a pencil for everyone. Now, what made me think of this was Ariel, at Lucky Pennies, using the word “assonance.”  I didn’t know what it meant, so I looked it up in my beloved American Heritage College Dictionary.  As I was looking it up, I suddenly thought of Fictionary, which led me to remember my Daddy and his…well…rather transparent playing style.

By that I mean that every single fake definition Daddy wrote to try to fool the rest of us had the phrase “of or pertaining to” in front of it.  Daddy had the notion that this particular phrase had a sort of etymological oomph that would be certain to dupe us all.  So, for the word “assonance,” Daddy quite likely would have written something like the following fake definition:  “Of or pertaining to asses; as it relates to the breeding of donkeys.”
To my knowledge, Daddy never won a game.   But he never seemed to grasp the fact that we were all privy to his “secret” strategy.   No, he blamed Mama.  Every time she was the Picker (the one who picked the word and read all the “definitions”), she would get tickled when she read Daddy’s definition.  She would try to suppress it, but usually, she’d start to giggle.  Daddy then would look annoyed and say, in a peeved voice, “Winnie, I wish you wouldn’t do that.”  Then, of course, everybody would start to laugh.  And Daddy couldn’t stay in his snit for long—pretty soon he was laughing, too.

Why is it that the smallest things you remember seem the clearest and sweetest?  The naïve innocence of my Daddy’s “secret” strategy, the way my Mama’s lips twitched when she tried to suppress her laugh, and the way the room lit up when we were all laughing together for pure joy. 

Well, I guess it’s no secret.  These memories that I hold fast to, that tug so urgently at my heart have one thing in common, and I think I can define it for you.  They are all…of or pertaining to…love.


9 Responses to “Of or Pertaining to…Love”

  1. June Says:

    I think I’ve played a version of this game that I may have picked up from TV…we took some obscure object and all came up with various functions for it. Of course, only one was the correct one. I like the sounds of this one too.

    I could just see your Daddy acting out and your Mama being playful. Yes, these are dear memories to be cherished.

    This was wonderfully written Beth. Great closing too.

  2. wesleyjeanne Says:

    I cannot even say how wonderful I found this post to be. So well written, so beautiful.
    It reminds me of a game we play in my family (made up by my former sis in law). If you don’t mind my stealing the idea, I may write about it.
    Of course, my post on the topic will not come near the beauty of this essay.
    Thank you for sharing,

  3. CountryDew Says:

    What a beautiful memory. Simple and true and honest and exquisite.

    Thanks for sharing that. It made my heart warm and my mouth smile.

  4. ben (aka guitarmaniac) Says:

    I felt the same way when I was telling Daddy about his score in Scrabble…I didn’t want to laugh, because I thought it would seem disparaging, but then I realized that it was just a game, and Daddy was laughing too, even before I was! And I will always remember all the comic energy just waiting to burst forth…I say, doth my punchy cup runneth over!

  5. bluemountainmama Says:

    that last line made my heart melt! it brought the whole post to a wonderful closure… and so true, so true! i sometimes think all this technology we have… TV, video games, computers is to our detriment, as they draw us away from each other. i grew up with simplicity and family and made-up games, too. 🙂 i try to strike a balance in our home.

    i grew up southern baptist and i think my favorite part was potluck dinners, too! NOTHING can compare to one! in fact, just thinking about it is making me hungry. 🙂

  6. lucky pennies Says:

    Assonance! The breeding of donkeys…hahaha! Maybe it also means the “essence of stupid people…” It’s a very good word, in any case.

    I agree with everyone else…this is a really beautiful post. I think you need to enter it in the next non-fiction contest that pops up. And if you don’t, I will. 😀

    Can we play Fictionary when we come home? Pretty please?

  7. Sara Says:

    Superb post.
    Balderdash is our favorite game here. We’re not gamers because we bahave badly but we can usually get along when we play Balderdash. I had no idea it was really called Fictionary. I like the name and it’s simplicity much better!

  8. colleen Says:

    We played this for years at our weekly potlucks at our neighbor’s farm. I still find myself saving words that would be good for fictionary. We all loved the idea that all you needed was a dictionary and that all ages could play. Some players went for laughs over points and the game would get pretty funny. After years of playing someone (me) got a Taboo game and now we play that.

    I learned what the word assonance meant years ago watching the movie “Educating Rita.” Micheal Caine was the professor teaching Rita and at one point he asked her what it meant and she said, “That’s when you get the rhyme wrong!” I though, Oh, is that what I’ve been doing all these years because I love to rhyme sounds like rather than directly.

  9. eemilla Says:

    Wow, I feel dumb. My honey, a few friends, and I used to play Balderdash, but we stopped when we begin to remember the cards. We never thought to use a dictionary!

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