Last weekend, Amy and I joined a large group of friends for a trip to Spring Mill Inn at Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell, Indiana. The excursion has become a mid-winter tradition these past couple of years — after all, what better way to break up the dreary monotony of wintertime than by heading south (if only just a little) for a weekend of lounging on couches with magazines, eating artery-clogging, country-style food, drinking cheap wine and maybe — just maybe — heading outdoors for a traipse through the park as snow falls silently through the branches of tall, slender trees?
This year, my arrival to Spring Mill was postponed until Saturday morning (I hung around Indy to watch my little brother wrestle ((and, poor kid, lose)) in the high school state tournament on Friday night), but the late start was fine with me. I still managed to check everything off of my to-do list, which, as you might imagine, wasn’t exactly teeming with extra-curricular activities. On Saturday afternoon I finished off this month’s Atlantic (I recommend checking out Michael Hirschorn’s piece on the impending death of decent network TV dramas), took a nice walk through the snow with friends, ate no shortage of junk food (parmesan and garlic potato chips, Goldfish, cheese-flavored popcorn) and, in the evening, drank a Cabernet/Shiraz blend from a box over a game of Beyond Balderdash.
Now Beyond Balderdash has been out of vogue for awhile now (Parker Brothers doesn’t even make it anymore, which means if you want it, expect to pay way more than what’s reasonable), but it is — and has been for more than a decade — my favorite board game in the world. The premise is super-simple: One person chooses a card that has obscure names, dates, intials, movie titles and words on one side. He chooses one, and the rest of the players try to invent a believable one-sentence explanation of either who the person is, what happened on the date, what the initials stand for, what the movie was about or what the word means. Then, the person holding the card reads the faux definitions or explanations, along with the REAL one mixed in, and everyone guesses which one is authentic. You score when somebody chooses your fake definition as real, as well as when you choose the right one.
Easy enough, right? With us, everyone starts out playing it straight, but as the game continues and the wine box empties, things inevitably get stupud, juvenile and hilarious. Here are some examples of what we wrote, by category:
Leopold Trouvelot: “A famous murder defendant, now presumed to have been wrongly-accused in the 1950s, who lost his life to the British death penalty but changed the future of the justice system throughout Europe.”
Mordecai Marducci: “Everyone called him a fit fellow, but when he died it was found he had been sucking in his belly all those years.”
Take Two: “A downhome comedy about an old Mormon couple who kidnap two kids from their neighbor’s yard.”
Big Deal On Madonna Street: “A-Rod eats his way down Madonna to a celebratory conclusion.”
Hodad: “The new Tyler Perry movie.”
Looking over these now, the words “you had to be there,” come to mind, and that’s probably true. Here’s what I recommend: if you can locate Beyond Balderdash for less than $50 bucks, snag it, get together with about five or six friends, invest in a box of wine, and let the night take you where it may. The whole state park hotel thing isn’t required for a good time, although it certainly wouldn’t hurt.