My husband travels extensively for work. This leaves me as the most adult thing in charge of a motley pack of cats and a terrier of dubious parentage. Naturally, we spend most of our time in poorly engineered blanket forts and playing our favorite game…Aliens. Essentially, I am Ripley. The cats are aliens. The house is The Nostromo. In an ironic twist, the dog is Jonesy. It is played in the ambient light coming from the tractor store. The goal is simple. I must sneak up and touch each cat without them detecting my presence. I am armed with a nerf gun. No direct nerf hits allowed. They are aimed to launch flying distractions that cats will chase and bat around while I do my sneaky best. I am terrible at this game. I have never won. The dog is a treacherous traitor who constantly reveals my position. We lose a lot of darts. Once, a cat came to bed with a foam dart nestled neatly in his ample fur-pants. The rest are considered MIA behind the refrigerator.
I suppose our game might sound strange to someone who hasn’t watched The New Girl roommates play True American. It may seem incomprehensible to someone who hasn’t had a taste of humanity’s terrific past of colossally stupid games. If you think my game is strange, I prescribe a healthy dose of Fox Tossing and Other Forgotten and Dangerous Sports, Pastimes and Games. Fox Tossing is a brief survey of monumentally brutal and dumb things we have entertained ourselves with over the past couple thousand years. A fair warning, humans are truly dick-weasels when it comes to animal cruelty until the last hundred years or so. A fair number of the games are empathy-clenching blood sports. But it makes us a little less sorry for the people who played other games, like Man-Baiting and People Throwing which are coined as “frequently lethal” to participants.
There are a number of less savage games described like Dwile Flonking. A pastime which only requires people to hit each other with beer-soaked rags and dance to accordion music. Or other games that necessitated a participant having an amply lubed eel or an “iron derriere”. Thankfully, no game requires both. It’s the sort of book that makes you want to ride in a Monowheel or avoid people asking you for a round of Hot Cockles.
The author Mr Brooke-Hitching has a sharp sense of humor. It makes me secretly suspect his name is actually a game that involves tossing a person across a small body of water by the seat of their pants. But only after tossing in a flaming, well-lubricated eel.