I've been playing charades. Charades is a game where one player imitates a famous book or a movie or a famous person or a famous person's dog, and the other players imitate interest. When one of the other players guesses what book or movie or person or dog you are imitating, you swap, so they get their turn to imitate somebody, and you get your turn to imitate interest*.
Say, for instance, you were to imitate Hemingway's famous book A Farewell to Arms. One way to do this would be to have your arms drop off.
"Oh my God, your arms have dropped off!" will shout one person.
"Get a doctor!" shouts another person.
"Hemingway!" shouts a third. "A Farewell to Arms! Good one, old bean!"
There is, however, a slight danger that one of the other players could mistake your gambit and think you're imitating the medical textbook, 'So - you've lost an arm', or that famous marital handbook, 'Marriage: is it worth losing an arm and a leg for?'** And then, what have you got, but a ruined game of charades and a pair of arms in the wrong place?
Some titles present quite a challenge to the ordinary charades player. For instance, if you were given the book The Old Man and the Sea, you would first imitate an old man and a sea, and then you would imitate a a definite and an indefinite article, and then the other players would imitate losing interest (easier than imitating interest). Then again, if a player is given George Orwell's 1984, all they have to do is imitate the number 1984, (or the number one, one thousand nine hundred and eighty four times), and the title will be easily guessed.
Once I was playing charades with a person who was given the title Oxford Modern English Dictionary to imitate. In turn he took on the character of a famous English college, something Modern (I'm not sure what, I think it was by Dali), an English man, and you don't want to know what he did for the word 'Dictionary'. Later, he was given An Illustrated History of the Great Wall of China, and he did give a performance as a Chinese-speaking wall, but it wasn't that great - and so he had to sit down.
On another occasion, he attempted to convey to us (through a series of tableaus involving money and facial expressions) Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. But we mistook 'Sensibility' for 'Sentimentality', and so he failed there, too.
This same person once gave the single most bravura performance I have ever seen: he was given the book title A Children's Alphabet, and proceeded to successfully imitate every single letter in the alphabet in succession, only to get transfixed on the lower-case 'v'. By this time, however, every other player had become bored and were doing quite a successful imitation of Raymond Chandler's first novel.
On the whole, I don't think charades has too much to recommend it, but it's still an enjoyable game. I'd play it again, but whenever I suggest it to others, people suddenly seem to have a sudden, inexplicable interest in the sport of lawn bowls. Such is life.
*Imitating interest is not as easy as it doesn't look, that's all I can say.
** A mistake often made by dyslexic people, and quite dangerous too - as it often doesn't leave me with a leg to stand on.
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