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Dumb Charades & Other Dumb Stuff

by vagrant

Following is a memoir that I want to include as a part of a project I am working on. This is the first time I have written something like this and I want to know how it is received by the audience.

It would mean a lot if you could provide me with feedback or constructive criticism in comments. Thanks, enjoy.

For twelve years of my life, I could not spell ‘Dumb Charades’.

Not that I was stupid as a student, it simply never occurred to me that you could spell it like that. ‘Dumsharates, Dumsharat’ — I had come up with the strangest combinations of letters for this word, but it just never clicked that it was two words and not one.

(Although, Dumb Charades makes more sense.)

If you have no clue what I’m talking about, let me pass the Torch Of Enlightenment through the dark valleys of your mind.

‘Dumb Charades’, or simply, ‘Charades’ is a parlor game where a player would act out a certain movie or song title using hand gestures; without uttering any sound. It is usually played in teams, and one provides the other with the movie title to be acted out. If your team members can guess it correctly in the provided time limit, your team gets a point; if they don’t the opposite team gets a point. Simple as that. After your turn, a member of the opposite team acts out the movie title to her team members. The game continues until everyone gets bored, the neighbors call cops on you, or as in my case, the bus ride got over.

When I was eleven, my parents decided to enroll me in another school in a nearby city. It was a big and rather reputed school and many neighborhood kids went there. My parents were (and still are) overprotective of me (not complaining) and they did not want to send me to a school all the way in another city until I was old enough to take care of myself. I had been a somewhat delicate kid. I am told, as a two-month-old baby, I got so sick that I had to be admitted to hospital.

It usually took more or less an hour to reach this new school. The school bus left at around six-thirty in the morning so that we could reach the school by seven-thirty. This meant getting up at six with sleep stuck in your head and hardly even being aware of your actions. The return ride on my first day was when I discovered this not so dumb game.

I knew almost everyone on the bus. Me, and another guy, Jay were the youngest. We were much on the same wavelength and became good friends quickly. He and I used to sit together. Jay introduced Charades to me and so to kill the boredom, we started playing it. The game is meant for teams, and naturally, it becomes both difficult and less fun to play the game between a pair. We were not in teams and thus were each other’s opponents. Rules were simple — think of a film in your head and act it out; you get a point if the other one cannot guess it. We played for fun, so we never really bothered to keep track of scores or develop a point system. There was no win or lose — just two friends passing their time.

The other kids noticed us and soon, they joined us in the game. Just imagine how fun it would be to have a dozen kids playing such a game on a moving bus!

While playing one day, I was given the film: Pacific Rim, for my turn. How in the world could anyone act out such a title? I thought.

I started composing waves with my hand to which my team responded, “Water?”

I gestured they had the right idea.

Me: *Showing two fingers*

Team: “Two words, okay…”

Me: *Forming waves and acting like I am drinking something*

Team: “Water? …River? …Sea?….Ocean?”

Me: *nodding*

Team: “Umm, oceans it is… Atlantic? … Indian? …Pacific?”

Me: *nodding excitedly, while also pointing in affirmation*

Team: “Oh I got it! Pacific Rim?!”

Once I was given The Pink Panther. The plan was simple, point at something pink, and act like a cat to get panther. It was supposed to be a foolproof plan but I could not find anything pink around me that day. Until a day earlier, all I could see was pink stuff hanging around on the girls’ school bags, but that day there was absolutely nothing pink. It’s like someone broke into their houses the previous night and replaced all the pink objects for different colored ones.

Since Pink was out of line, I had to make them guess the last word, that is, panther. I meowed, purred, roared. It appears sometimes people act dumb deliberately, just to mess with you. They called out all sorts of animals but a cat or a lion. I wonder what kind of freaky purring and meowing horses and hens they had seen. Nevertheless, they could not guess it (more like, did not guess it) and my team ended up losing a point.

I reckon if the bus conductor sometimes wished to play with us.

Besides Charades, another game we used to play was “Truth or Dare?”. If you don’t know what ‘Truth or Dare?’ is, you are embarrassing me, Reader.

Let me light up the Torch Of Enlightenment and pass it through the dark valleys of your mind one more time.

‘Truth or Dare?’ is another parlor game where a player is given a choice to either answer truthfully to a question asked by any other player or ‘dare’ to perform a task, given by the other players. No team drama here. We started playing this game not because we were bored of Dumb Charades, but because of a deeper and more spiritual reason that variety is essential and that we should always strive to try new thin — okay yes, we were just bored of playing that stupid game. After a point of time, all the movies were redundant and guesswork was unneeded.

Truth or Dare? was a game that always had that newness in it — that hotness, know what I mean? We rarely chose Dare because let’s face it, how can you possibly perform a task in a moving bus filled with sweating and exhausted children? And so it was always assumed the choice was always going to be Truth.

We looked forward to playing it every day. We would return to our houses and think of burning questions to ask. After all, this was a chance to cull all the spicy and interesting information from our friends because, of course, how could you lie in Truth or Dare?

It is illegal, isn’t it?

We would ask questions like, ‘list the guys as least to most favorite’, about crushes, or ‘if a UFO invaded the atmosphere, hijacked our bus and threw us all in a river, who would you save first?’ (which now I realize is a dumb thing to ask)

Alien Commander: “We have breached Earth’s atmosphere. Let’s find a school bus so that we can throw all the passengers into a river and then steal the bus.”

Alien Soldier: “But Sire, what is even the need of all this? No offence, my Lord, but it seems stupid.”

Alien Commander: “Do what I tell you to. See there, a bus with some children playing games.”

Alien Soldier: “Sir, this still sounds ridiculous. What is even the point of this?”

Alien Commander: “Just think, if the bus has only one guy and rest girls and if we throw them all it would be interesting to see who he would save first.”

Alien Soldier: “In his right mind, he would save himself first.”

Childhood was full of these strange, stupid, but still amusing games. Even as a senior, I play these games with my friends and eventually the whole class joins in — just like the old times. In retrospect, it is funny how some silly things bring a smile to our faces during childhood. That one hour with friends meant the whole world to me as an eleven-year-old. It used to be the best one hour of my day — returning home in that old bright-yellow bus, having a blast with my friends.

That one hour of fun and joy where there were no class gaps between kids. No seniors or juniors; it was just a bunch of children hanging out and forgetting issues of their lives, big or small. We would be exhausted but still be invigorated, playing. Time had no significance; an hour would feel like just a few minutes flew by. It was a time that we enjoyed ourselves.

When I look back at my childhood, the memories of my friends and me playing are some of the most treasured ones. These moments are some of my ‘happy parts’ of life. I believe, no matter how old I get, I would still remember these parts and my lips would turn into a smile; as they do right now writing about it.

“He wants to say signature. Oh, somebody is signing something?

A man with a tie, you want to say?

What could that mean? An autograph?

Wait, I think I got it: fan!

But dude, you could have just pointed to the ceiling fan…”

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User avatar
154 Reviews

Points: 7349
Reviews: 154

Wed Feb 05, 2020 2:30 pm
Hkumar wrote a review...

Hey @vagrant ! I just went through your memoir and I find it really interesting. It evoked lot of childhood memories in my mind.
The personal experiences that you gave were very relatable and made me feel nostalgic . Especially the one about pronounciation of Dumb Charades :p . The way you have described the game in detail is very good and it fact that you even gave examples with the help of dialogues made it more interesting. It was easy to read and had a smooth flow.

Good luck for your project.
Keep writing ! :)

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1031 Reviews

Points: 119583
Reviews: 1031

Wed Jan 29, 2020 11:31 pm
alliyah wrote a review...

Ah this is a nice memoir piece! It has a great encapsulation of the childhood-joy of playing silly games with friends just for the fun of it.

It can definitely be intimidating to post a personal-memoir-essay, because of how it reflects upon ones' own life, but I think memoir writing is very rewarding to write, so it's a great exercise and I'm glad you posted this! The piece was engaging and was easy to understand/follow. I also really appreciated how you off-set the text in parts of the game description and dialogue to make it easier to read. I most liked reading through some of the thought-process for coming up with options- I think we got the most insight into the narrator's character in the bit at the beginning with the spelling of charades.

My one suggestion is that one of the reasons memoir is such a great genre is that you can do more than just describe your life's events, but you can also imply and find meaning to them. It's not normally effective to say - hey I learned this as a kid, and that means x, y, z about me, society, and the world! But if you can subtly add some connections to your life now, or what these memories mean to you currently, even just what you think it says about you, I think that creates a more interesting project. Those little thematic lines are what I find most interesting when reading memoir, is discovering who the narrator is not just by reading how they've lived, but how they ascribe meaning to their life.

If you also enjoy the memoir-genre, but haven't read Ta-Nehisi Coates "Between the World and Me" you might enjoy it - that's one of my favorites!

Good luck in the rest of your writing project!

- alliyah

vagrant says...

Hi there! Thanks a lot for taking the time to write this review! I am totally understanding what you're trying to convey and will be sure to keep that in mind in my next memoir. As I said this is my first memoir so I was very nervous about how the audience would receive this but seems like it isn't so bad after all xp
Anyway, thanks again!

One thing that America is objectively exceptional at is overreacting whenever anyone accuses them of not being exceptional.
— John Oliver