Sunday, June 18, 2006

Ziphiidae Do Dah

Big Pat Daugherty is a winner. He plays to win.

If it were nuclear war, he would hit your command centers with bunker busters, sabotage your mobile missiles as they hid in the forest and swarm your missile submarines with swift silent attack subs under flags of convenience.

If he were seducing your wife, he would go with the French wine, the Italian shoes and the dry British wit AND make sure you had a special invitation to Pebble Beach so you would be out of the picture for the whole weekend.

If he had to shave his back, so be it. He would shave his back.

If he were playing fictionary -- not if; I mean last night when we were playing fictionary -- Big Pat goes for the win, not the wussycat tie.

Imagine the situation. The game is three hours old. The score is knotted: Woozy Host, Mme. Chocolatier, Big Pat seven points apiece. The tie ensued when Woozy Host, having the dictionary last, had come to the conclusion that picking out words with truly odd definitions was not getting it done. The players were just too sharp, too receptive to the most unlikely possibilities. WH went with pushzta, which means a plain in Hungary. He thought that so bland a definition would be dismissed as a rather lame attempt by a player gone drink-sodden and that the very genius of the group for coming up with weirdly inventive definitions would result in no one voting for Hungarian plain and WH winning seven points as a result.

Failure: Three players guess right, resulting in the final seven-each tie.

Now, your typical Oako-libo group would be delighted with such a socio-comic result: We're all good enough together. But Big Pat said no no no.

Tie breaker!

BP, WH and Mme. Chocolatier did scissors, paper, rock to decide who got to decide. Big Pat went scissors; Woozy Host and MC went paper. (There's your symbolism for all to see!)

Note what Big Pat did at this juncture. A lesser man would have given someone else the dictionary to pick the final word, knowing full well that in fictionary if you pick the word, it's all or nothing at all. If even a single person picks the correct definition, you get nothing. Meanwhile, your rivals have two opportunities to score, either by guessing correctly or by gulling others into choosing their bogus definitions.

Big Pat put a little more torque in his jock, took the dictionary and picked ziphiidae:

Which is toothed whales, something something whales ranging in length from 18-30 feet.

The smart money came to the conclusion that the 18-30 feet suffix was one of those too-specific additions -- one of those instances of trying to do too much, of failing to shut up when the shutting up is good -- that undermine rather than support the credibility of the definition.

No one picked "toothed whales something something 18-30 feet in length." WH did some inane definition about instruments of ritual Etruscan sacrifice. Big Pat got seven points to win going away. Mme. Chocolatier got some votes; indeed, enough others got enough votes to pound Woozy Host back into 5th place.

Magnificently played, Big Pat. Your victory was a truly horripilating experience.

2 comments:

mackdoggy said...

You don't shave your back. You have it waxed. Ears too.

Lyle York said...

I'd like to know whether you play by my rules, which include the required reading of the entire dictionary definition--or whether you play by those squishy non-rules some people such as my husband play by, in which the dictionary definition may be simplified before being read aloud.

--Marriage in Trouble