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.