Off the bat, that title is inaccurate. I don’t hate everyone. I like my dogs. There are a few people on Twitter that make me laugh, and I tend to enjoy the company of the other writers for some reason. Other than that, most people can go jump in a lake. It stands to reason that as someone who rarely leaves the comfort of his house, that I don’t have to go out of my way to avoid social situations that don’t involve my dogs, or discussing topics for a quarterly magazine. When I do leave the gloomy chambers of my one bedroom apartment, it’s to walk down the street to my favorite bar and chat with the bartender, Karl (whom, come to think of it, I also quite like). Against my better judgment, and in a frenzied moment of needing to get out of my house, I accepted an invitation to a game night.
The party’s host was a friend from Chicago who used to skateboard all the time when he wasn’t performing stand up. Now he mostly hosts game nights. I arrived with a six-pack of beer and a tub of hummus in hand (hummus being the snack de rigueur of game nights round the world) and was greeted by couples who were beginning to look like each other and who do things like work at banks and take sketch writing classes. I spoke a little about my job, but the life of a freelance writer is deeply uninteresting (“You spend how much time watching TV?”), so we went back to talking about improv classes. This went on for another hour while I drank my way through half my six-pack and ate most of a tub of hummus. Then the games were on.
The party opened up with a game where you gave clues to your teammates about a word you were trying to make them guess. I tend to be a bit of a nihilist when it comes to playing board games, and if I can cause the game to come crashing down in a fiery heap then I consider everything a success. Most games are constructed to avoid this kind of Lokism, but not the guessing game we were embroiled in. When it was my turn to feed clues I gave them in Portuguese, or sang them as if I were Kate Bush. And when it was my turn to guess I pretended as if I were deaf, and guessed the previous team’s word. It may sound like I’m an awful party guest, but this wasn’t a party – it was game night. After a few more torturous rounds of whatever we were playing (torturous for them because of my awful playing, torturous for me because I had to constantly think up new and clever ways to be terrible) the group moved on to something else while I stood in the kitchen finishing off my six-pack and waiting until everyone’s backs were turned so I could sneak out the bathroom window and catch the bus home.
The next day I received a text from my friend saying, “Had a great time last night, we should do it again some time soon.” I replied, “For sure,” because I’m a phony.
If you’ve never been to a game night, you’re probably too young to be boring. You aren’t invited to game nights because none of your friends have stopped doing ecstasy, and none of their bands have broken up. By the time you hit 28, the invitations will start arriving. They’ll be at a trickle at first, but soon enough people will be saying things to you like, “We should have a game night.” Or, “You know what we haven’t done in a while? Had a game night.” Those sentences are the first breaths of death against the back of your neck. You can’t choose whether or not you’ll get to die, but you can choose whether or not you end up spending three hours playing board game with men and women in their late 20s and early 30s. Choose wisely.