Bored Games

The hostess has cleared the dinner dishes, everyone has their coffee, and now come the tense moments when guests pray for terrorists to burst into the living room and take hostages, conveniently excusing everyone from having to play Pictionary. For those of you who have not been invited to a dinner party since 1986, let me explain Pictionary, and if there's time, hygiene and table manners.

Players take turns drawing objects named on a Pictionary card while their team makes incorrect guesses as to the object's identity until the timer expires. Teams are often married couples, which come in two categories: Psychics, and Entertaining Bickerers. The psychic couples are those who know each other so well, they can guess what their mate is drawing before he or she is finished. A squiggly line elicits the correct response "Empire State Building!" from the psychic spouse. Sometimes the partner gets the answer just from the way the other one picks up the pencil. Everyone hates these people.

The Entertaining Bickerers, however, are beloved by all, for not only do they score fewer points than would a blind pet, their aggravation amuses everyone. One partner draws a picture that could be used in a textbook, but the spouse is clueless: "Tree? Airplane? Bea Arthur?" Be sure to keep spare pencils handy to replace those lodged in bodily orifi.

If you are new to Pictionary, or simply lack any right-brain skills, you might appreciate some valuable pointers to help you next time you play, but all I can offer are the following cheap tricks:

But perhaps you can avoid Pictionary altogether by suggesting one of these other popular parlor games: