Remember the games we played as kids? There were playground pursuits like tag and Red Rover, party games such as Blind Man’s Bluff and Musical Chairs, and pastimes like marbles or jacks.
Now that we’re all grown up, we may not have the fortitude, flexibility or inclination to play the games we did in our youth. But that’s no reason not to play at all. So here are more age-relevant versions of some popular childhood games for us baby boomers today:
Now: Sip Scotch
If you’ve got arthritis (about half of folks over age 65 do), hopping around on a hard pavement probably isn’t the best thing for your joints. Instead, toss some rocks into a double old-fashioned glass, pour a couple fingers of scotch (blended or single-malt—your choice), and sip it while sitting comfortably in front of a fireplace or the TV. You can play Sip Scotch alone or, preferably, with at least one other person.
Then: Hide and Seek
Now: “Where in Hell Are My [fill in the blank]?”
In the original game, kids deliberately hide from whomever is “it.” As adults, however, inanimate objects hide from us totally unbidden (it’s almost magical the way this happens). You don’t even have to want to play and—poof!—your keys or glasses disappear. So you seek until you find them—invariably wherever you last put them, if only you could remember where that was. For one or more players.
Now: Am I Losing My Marbles?
“Am I Losing My Marbles?” is less a game and more of a refrain that we boomers utter when we can’t find something we just had (see “Where in Hell Are My _____?” game, above), we can’t remember why we walked into a room, or can’t recall a phone number that we’ve called countless times. May be uttered at any time.
Now: Phone Tag
For two players at a time. You try to contact each other by telephone, but neither is able to reach the other for a conversation. You leave voicemail messages for each other (“Tag, you’re it!”) and request a call back. The game continues for a period of time as you “chase” each other attempting to have a real-time conversation. To end the game, you can 1) answer the damn phone, or 2) don’t return the call and hope the other party just stops calling.
Then: Blind Man’s Bluff
Now: Blind Without My Glasses
It’s hard to believe we used to deliberately blindfold ourselves and stumble around trying to find our friends. Now we just have to misplace our glasses and we can do the same thing. Plus, everyday tasks like reading or driving become impossible, increasing the game’s level of difficulty. May be played alone or with anyone else who’s ocularly challenged.
Then: Playing House
Now: Real Life
We actually used to think it was fun to pretend to cook and clean and tell your “kids” what to do. Ha! Then you grow up and get to do it for real—for decades. Are we having fun yet?
Then: Playing Doctor
Now: Going to the Doctor
Between ages three and six, it’s fairly common for kids to role-play doctor and patient as a pretext for examining each other’s genitals out of anatomical curiosity. At this age, however, we pretty much know what genitalia look like, so rather than play doctor (unless you and your partner are into that sort of thing), we go to the doctor—many of us with increasing frequency. Unfortunately, at this age it’s rarely fun (colonoscopy, anyone?).
Then: Simon Says
Now: Bite Me
In the original game, “Simon” issues commands that should only be obeyed if they’re preceded by the phrase “Simon says.” As an adult, I’m loathe to obey commands from anyone, regardless of his/her name (okay, I’d probably make an exception in an airline emergency). Otherwise, if some jerk who refers to himself in the third person is barking orders at me, my response is likely to be “Bite me.”
Now: I Read It on the Internet So It Must Be True
Remember the Gossip party game? People would sit in a circle and the first player whispers a “secret” to the person next to him/her. Each player whispers the phrase to the next player, with the last player saying the phrase out loud so everyone can hear how much it changed from the first time it was spoken. These days, someone just forwards an email that takes on a life of its own. Killer bananas, anyone? Or how about the one claiming deodorant causes breast cancer? Snopes, people!
Then: Pin the Tail on the Donkey
Now: Pin the Blame on the Democrats (or Republicans)
Players blindly point their fingers at the opposing political party as the cause of all the problems in the world. Most current members of Congress have achieved the level of “expert” in playing this game, which does not make them winners.
Now: Having An Adult Conversation
As kids, this game was often used as a way to settle disputes, much like flipping a coin. As adults, you can still play the game—if it’s something relatively inconsequential like who gets the last piece of pie. Otherwise, discuss both sides of the issue, and compromise to reach a reasonable agreement you both can live with (oh, that Congress would master this game!).
Then: Spin the Bottle
Now: Pop a Viagra
Remember when the prospect of kissing a certain someone made you swoon? And a simple kiss could get a rise out of a guy, no problem? Well, at this age, going from canoodling to doing the deed isn’t always as easy as it used to be, so popping a Viagra or other ED drug helps make it easier (and harder, if ya know what I mean).
Then: Red Rover
Now: Come Over for Drinks & Dinner
Talk about mixed messages. In the original game, your team yells for someone on the opposing team to “come over.” Then you link hands to prevent that person from breaking through your line. The adult version makes way more sense. You simply call people on the phone and invite them over. And when they arrive, you open the door, let them in and serve dinner. Plus, adult beverages are usually involved, making it even more fun.
Seriously, though, playing isn’t just for kids. It’s an essential part of being human and fully alive—especially as we get older. Stuart Brown, MD, an American psychiatrist, puts it this way:
“Play energizes us and enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities.”
Which inspires this week’s Boomer Haiku:
Stop having fun and
you grow old; let your inner
child come out to play.
So what about you—got ideas for grownup versions of games we used to play, or entirely new games we should be playing at our age? Please share!