Once upon a time, we used to play a lot of spoons. By “we” I mean my family when I was growing up, and specifically my mom and all her grown-up friends. Real life adults with real responsible jobs, in some cases up to 4 tables of people playing spoons because there were too many people for fewer games. Later I took my love of spoons to college, and convinced a lot of semi-real adults without real responsible jobs to play as well.
Usually people look at you funny if you try to get them to play spoons. It’s not a game that requires a lot of skill, and it’s a little silly, so it’s usually thought of as a kids game. How can a bunch of adults enjoy playing something like that?
The game works like this: you place once fewer spoon in the middle then there are people playing, musical chairs style. You have 4 cards in your hand, and your goal is to make 4 of a kind. You obtain cards by picking up a card off the stack discarded by the person from your right, and then discarding one for the next person down the line on your left to draw from, as fast as you possibly can. When someone finally does obtain 4 of a kind, they grab one of the spoons from the middle. At this point, everybody grabs for a spoon and whoever doesn’t get one is out (or gains a letter in S-P-O-O-N as in the basketball game “horse”).
Of course there are some tricky nuances, such as getting 4 of a kind and grabbing a spoon on the sly without anybody noticing, or casually waving your hand over the spoons to trick someone else into thinking you’re going for one. But you get the idea.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. If that was all there was to the game, it would still probably be somewhat enjoyable, but not enough to keep a bunch of adults playing late into the night. Our special twist on the game was that the dealer got to add additional rules.
The rules can be anything, and the possibilities are endless. They might force you to look foolish, break your concentration, or be physically difficult. You might have to stand up and sit back down every time you get a card you’re looking for, or run around the table, or say, “I, Shane Halbach, being of sound mind and body do declare that I’m stupid”, or pat your tummy and rub your head, or shout, “We’re coming to America, TODAY!” You might have to pick up a spoon and set it back down, or flip the spoon in the air, or run into the bathroom and get a square of toilet paper. (These are all actual rules I have played with.)
Then there’s the spoons themselves. Are the spaced neatly on the table in front of you, or are they under something? Are they in a different room so that obtaining a spoon becomes a full contact race? Is your strategy to grab a spoon yourself or to prevent someone else from grabbing a spoon? In college I’ve played where the spoons were actually downstairs or on the other side of a field of about 20 sleeping people.
I can’t stress enough how quickly this game becomes full contact. It starts simple with two people wrestling over a spoon, maybe someone slips on the hardwood in their socks, and then pretty soon there’s body tackling. My mom actually bought a special set of spoons to play this game because our regular spoons were getting too bent up. We’ve had a card table destroyed, our hardwood floors damaged, and countless bumps, bruises, and head bashes.
It’s certainly a sight to see. I remember a friend witnessing the chaos of adults playing when I was in elementary school, and declaring, “They have to be drinking. They have to.” I remember playing with my family while waiting for 4th of July fireworks, in the middle of a sea of strangers, using one shoe from each of us in lieu of spoons and acting like complete buffoons.
I sort of forgot about all of this until we thought to play last weekend. It was totally as fun as I remembered it being! Evie finds it too stressful and will not play, but the rest of us adults had a grand old time. We even accidentally put a long scratch in our dining room table, just for old time’s sake!