Moxie Readers: Our newest Moxie author, Michele Catalano, lives and writes in Long Island, NY. She is in the process of surviving Hurricane Sandy.
Today is my one week anniversary without power, having lost it at 4:30 in the afternoon the day Hurricane Sandy struck Long Island.
At first, we were champion survivors. We read by candlelight. We ate cheese sandwiches and blueberry muffins, drank bottled water and iced tea. We pretended we were the Ingalls. I even did my “Mary goes blind” imitation and everyone got a great laugh out of that.
That was the first night.
The second night we ran an extension cord to my neighbor across the street who luckily still had power. We lit a lamp, charged our phones and stared at each other. You know that Bugs Bunny episode where the two guys are stranded on a desert island and they start to see each other as hamburgers and hot dogs? We were seeing each other as television and Xbox consoles.
The third night we all took some melatonin at 7pm and tried to sleep the cold night away. We woke up at 1am, all of us, looking for something to do. We read by candlelight, ate leftover Halloween candy and wistfully recalled a time when tv brought us together as a family.
The next day we packed up and went to my mother’s house, where she had electricity, heat, hot water and board games.
This would be fun, right? Three different families camping out in one house. A six year old, an 11 year old, a 19 year old and a 22 year old and respective adults all under one roof. Oh, and the 22 year old’s friend who was visiting from Arizona. And another friend who showed up cold and hungry. And a miniature schnauzer.
Everything was going ok. My mother cooked big meals, we all pitched in to help her set up and clean up, we laughed, we ate, we slept on couches and recliners and floors, warm and cozy. We ate breakfast together, watched the news, fretted over gas lines and empty supermarket shelves. Even when we fretted, we did it together, over donuts and coffee. Just one big family getting through the aftermath of a hurricane together.
And then we played Scattegories.
It was the only board game my parents had which still had all the equipment necessary to play.
I can’t tell you how many games of Scattegories we played. I lost count at 26. I’m pretty sure my mind was gone at that point.
We started out so well. Everyone played nice, no one cheated, no one questioned anyone else’s answers, we laughed and had a great time.
It might have been around day two where the game devolved into a surreal commentary on life by eight delirious individuals suffering some sort of post-traumatic power outage disorder.
By the time we noticed all our answer were hurricane related, it was too late to turn back to normalcy.
THINGS THAT ARE BLACK beginning with the letter T.
The whole world, it seems.
WEATHER RELATED THINGS beginning with the letter S.
Stupid Sandy (double points!)
Then we started fighting. My son was putting down the same word for every category. THINGS IN A RESTAURANT. Lemons. THINGS IN A REFRIGERATOR. Lemons. GIRL’S NAME. Lemon. My nephew followed suit, but with more commentary attached. COUNTRIES. Bored. DINNER ITEMS. Bored. THINGS IN A CLOSET. Bored.
We became a divided family. There were those who wanted to keep playing and those who thought a third day of Scattergories was not only unnecessary but posed a danger to the mental well being of everyone in the house. Because the idea of watching yet another episode of Supernatural with my mother was out of the question for all of us, we kept playing.
“You can’t even cheat in this game!”
“You saved your sheets from yesterday and you’re trying to reuse them!”
“I DON’T EVEN WANT TO PLAY ANYMORE.”
It played out like some ridiculous Twilight Zone episode, one where participants are forced to play a quiz game that never ends and where the answers are all meant to antagonize.
“Taco Bell is NOT an ethnic food.”
“Why did you put my name under THINGS YOU SHOUT”?
“I don’t think that’s what they mean by 4 Letter Words, mom.”
“Your sister is not a villain or monster.”
“Your mother is not an ITEM IN THE KITCHEN.”
And thus Scattegories became a game of Last Man Standing. One by one, people got aggravated, upset and insulted. They threw cards on the floor, flung pencils across room and said things like “I am NEVER spending a post-hurricane week with you again!”
In the end, there was one person left. One person dutifully filling in the blanks with appropriate answers for the categories at hand with a smile on his face.
The six year old won not only Scattegories, but this round of life.