Operation… and Other Games that Make Us Better

elephant_game copyI love pasta. It’s a deep love, a passionate love, a two syllable lo-ove. And sometimes you do crazy things for love. So the other night when I was making a little rotini and one fell ever-so-dramatically under the burner, I immediately – kids, don’t try this at home – removed the pot, turned off the stove and slowly maneuvered my fingers under the hot burner to rescue my true love.

As I successfully pulled the little sucker to safety, it dawned on me that my stealth extraction skills could be attributed to nothing other than years of playing Operation as a kid. After innumerable surgeries using itty bitty tweezers to remove the funny bone from a metal-skinned, red-nosed, high-voltage patient, no rotini would be left behind.

I began to wonder what other life-enhancing skills I may have learned from childhood games. It wasn’t long before I realized there were plenty:

Go Fish: Every time I do laundry and have some odd number of socks to match back together it’s a frustrating game of “got any white with red stripes?” “Nope, go fish.” I never win.

Twister: I can flow from Triangle pose to Warrior One to left-hand-on-yellow in eight seconds flat.

Jenga: Sometimes the Kleenex box with the pretty pink stripes is wedged eight deep under the ugly brown leaf and blue flower boxes at the grocery store.

Monopoly: This taught me not to be shocked that my big-red-hotel home in Arizona could only be traded for a tiny-green-house apartment in California.

Super Mario Bros: I always pick up spare change and have an extreme aversion to mushrooms.

Trivial Pursuit: Aside from a few fun facts about the Cold War, I also learned to thoroughly grease my pie pans. I’ve had a green pie jammed into my brown token since 1986.

Tetris: After a cocktail party, it’s a breeze slipping several dozen arbitrary cabernet, chardonnay, champagne and martini glasses into the dishwasher unscathed.

Hungry Hungry Hippos: I can’t divulge all my secrets but I always get more than my fair share of a bag of peanut butter M&Ms.

Sorry: How to apologize when I don’t remotely mean it – like when I eat the last of the M&Ms.

Risk: I always avoided playing Risk. I guess I was on to something.

I’m comforted to know that years of game-playing as a kid still contributes to my life as a grown up every day. I can’t wait to see how playing quarters in college work out for me. What practical skills can you attribute to games you played?

About WhiteElephantInTheRoom

I'm an 80s music lover, traveling junkie, mac & cheese connoisseur, amateur wine snob, party-planning priestess and Chicago transplant living in Southern California. I find adventure in the everyday and have a unending compulsion to write about it. Hope you enjoy reading my mind!
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27 Responses to Operation… and Other Games that Make Us Better

  1. I too loved playing monopoly as a kid, and I can recall a New England Snow Day where we seemed to play one game that went on for seven exciting hours, we were all absorbed in it.

    Even more fun was teaching these same games (the multi-player ones anyway) to my daughters. I once told the younger one the story about how my older brother never let me win at Monopoly, then the following week after I’d forgotten about it, we played – and after only a short while I realized that she was letting me win.

    And then of course, what other games did I play that helped me later in life? well…. “Doctor” is one I remember quite fondly……

  2. tiredella says:

    Wow, I never thought of that. I know that my love for writing and reading comes from all the stories my parents used to read to me when I was little, but games… Well, I always loved the monkey bars, and that means I’m able to… Hang on to metal poles? And hopscotch, gave me the ability to aim papers and garbage into the trash every time! We played this version where your piece had to land on the consecutive number to be able to move, so really, I could probably stand on one foot, hop, and still get my garbage into the trash. It’s impressive, I know.

  3. PinotNinja says:

    This is absolutely brilliant and spot on — I love it! Best of all, this justifies all of the hours of my childhood that I “wasted away” playing games instead of doing the things that kids today do, like Mandarin lessons, 800 hours of baby martial arts a week, and homework.

    Specifically, without my years of training playing Memory how would I possibly be able to remember the names and faces of all of my favorite reality TV players?

  4. Brilliant, as always! Posted this on my FB page so don’t be surprised at that 1 referral from there… Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that a swift uppercut to someone’s chin doesn’t result in their neck extending 3 feet in the air a la Rockem Sockem Robots.

  5. Lol to this! The only thing I remember about Trivial Pursuit is that Chicago is like the 23rd windiest city in the world or something like that. It’s information that has served me never, but like you, I’ve had to extricate food from the burner plates very delicately. Nice work turning the flame off first; I’m going to try that next time!

  6. Ha! – love it:) I remember playing Scrabble and Yahtzee and Monopoly – my brother cheating at every step too. Have a Great One!

  7. Kendra says:

    So true! Whenever I have to untangle charger cords or match cables from the TV to another appliance I think of those OLD OLD Highlights magazines in DR’s offices where you had to follow a particular color looping string.

  8. I’d like to think there was some benefit to Barbie, but I think the only bright side there was that, while playing with Barbie, I used my brother’s Legos to construct houses and developed my spatial reasoning skills. Great post! I think Hungry Hungry Hippos taught us all the most valuable skills, though.

  9. Hi,
    I’ve nominated you for the “versatile blogger award”. I really like your style 🙂

  10. You have some very good points! I am better at Hungry Hungry Hippos than my husband to the extent that I have to split out share bags into two separate zliplocks – one each, so that I can’t pinch his!

  11. Irene says:

    Great post thanks. JigSaws taught me patience and the ability to put the pieces back together carefully. Playing cards taught me not to eat all the jelly beans because you need some to stay in the game. Hockey taught me to pay attention to the direction I was supposed to be going in, the first goal I scored was for the other team.

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