12
Apr

Catch Phrase. For anyone who has ever played this game, you know that it’s not just a game.

It’s a battle of wills.

I love it. The rush of guessing my teammate’s mystery phrase. The thrill of passing the disk just before the buzzer goes off in my opponent’s hands. The exhilaration of giving my team one more point towards victory.

The best and worst in people come out when playing Catch Phrase. If you have a teammate not very – ahem – adept at conveying clues, someone who just sits there and laughs or stutters a continual “ummmm” while the ticker begins to beep faster and faster, you will soon enough hear the frustration of others as they scream “Just say something!” or “TALK!” Or, they take matters into their own hands and begin to yell out anything: “Nunchucks! Ranch dressing! Butter Face!” Catch Phrase is not for the weak.

It’s even worse when you get into the nitty-gritty of who exactly was holding the disk when the buzzer went off. I have a few groups of friends with whom I play this game, and they each have a different set of rules – rules that will inevitably be vehemently argued over throughout the course of the game. Sometimes these arguments take up more time than guessing the actual phrases. For some, if your team guessed the word, you get the point even if technically the disk was still in your hands as the buzzer went off. For others, if it’s in your hands, too bad. You’re SOL. Oh, but who had the disk in the first place? Does it count if it was thrown into your lap? No hands were touching. Or, what if the tips of your fingers had just begun brushing the disk as the buzzer sounded? Does that constitute possession of the disk? Catch Phrase can be mighty tricky.

Then there’s the obligatory “Did you give our team a point?” every single time the opposing team is holding the disk when the buzzer goes off. You never can be too sure. It’s always safe to assume that your opponents are conniving, backstabbing liars who will do anything to win. I myself prefer visual confirmation. Even if the disk-holder insists that they did indeed give the point, I will still lean over to look and check. You can’t trust anyone. After all, it’s Catch Phrase.

That said, this is one game where at some point in the night it’s guaranteed that I will either a) have tears running down my face, b) double over because I can’t breathe, or c) both… from laughing so hard. Because despite the dog eat dog atmosphere, it is truly one of the best times you ever can have. I love the peeps who become so animated as they’re giving clues that I almost don’t want to guess the phrase because they’re that entertaining to watch. The best scenario, however, is when someone gets an expression with which they are obviously unfamiliar. Oh, the joy. Case in point, a friend who upon seeing his phrase anxiously stated, “I just have a group of letters. I just have a group of letters.” The term was AFL-CIO. He had no idea what that was, but immediately composed himself and proceeded to give clues by saying, “Okay, the first letter is the first letter of the alphabet. The second letter comes after E. The third letter is before M.” Catch Phrase requires ingenuity.

Another (not as successful) example is when an opponent got the term lay-up. Her approach? To physically demonstrate by lying back on the couch and then returning to an upright position. Makes sense, right? Yeah… no one on her team had a clue what was going on as she convulsed up and down on the couch in an increasingly frantic motion. Finally one of my own teammates felt compassionate and began feeding her basketball terms. Like I said, Catch Phrase brings out the best and worst in people.

Yet after all is said and done, when the adrenaline rush subsides and the frustration towards verbally incompetent teammates or double-crossing opponents fades into the distance, I am left only with warm memories of happiness and laughter with dear friends… Except that one time when I swear Angie purposely held onto the disk just long enough so that I couldn’t possibly have enough time for my team to guess my phrase. Just you wait, Angie. Payback’s a bitch.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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