I have a horrible confession to make:


In general, I don't like playing board or card games.

This, I fear, basically makes me lose any nerd cred I may have. Almost every member of my age group (outside of maybe the people on Jersey Shore) seems to LOVE board games. When socializing it often comes directly after talking and eating. And when the games are brought out, a sense of dread spreads over me.

The one exception is trivia, in almost all forms (except sports-only). But any game that involves strategy, or skill, or exceptional brain power is like pulling teeth for me--IF played with others. When I'm only competing against myself, there's no problem. This also goes for video games. I keep a gameboy on my bedside table so I can play a few rounds before bed each night. But playing video games with others? No thanks.

I'm not sure exactly what it is. I know that when I ran Hood to Coast back in 2008 I swore to myself I would never be part of a competitive team again. I hated the feeling of letting others down with my weakness or inability. Even competing on my own against others isn't fun. My feelings get hurt too easily, or too easily I begin to hurt others in trash talk or teasing. In those heated moments I feel like I lose most of my humanity for the sake of some stupid game.

That's why winning doesn't feel that great, because too often it means I've put myself and my own desire to achieve before connecting or relating to others. I become so competitive, so focused on winning, that I forget myself and can be a real bitch. Or, one time I started crying during a simple game of 'Scene It' because I felt like I was calling out the answers before the other teams, but no one would recognize it.

This is why I'd rather just talk with people or watch a movie or even do a puzzle, where there is no need for win or lose. And whenever the response to that is "It's only a game!" I want to shout, "THEN WHY THE F*** ARE WE PLAYING IT? If it doesn't mean anything, then let's do something where we don't have to be pitted against each other!" I would so much rather talk to you about the incredible allure of Alan Alda, or hear how your vacation was, or if we want to just unwind, watch a movie or read a book or go for a walk or do the crossword together.

Maybe part of this is that I live alone. When I'm with other people, I want to talk about life or share something. Sharing a game, to me, just doesn't feel worth our time together. For a while I did group trivia at a pub, but in between rounds we'd talk and connect. (Also, it was trivia, which as I've discussed, is my usual exception to the rule.)

In most areas of my life I am an all-or-nothing kind of person, and that means there is never a good end when playing games. If I lose, I feel like a complete idiot. If I win, I feel like I'm better than other people. I don't like either of those feelings. Really the solution is to only play games with people I despise, but all in all I'd rather just not spend time with them.

Maybe someday I'll get over whatever my problem is and LOVE games. Or maybe it will just take meeting the right person who loves them, and then they'll be like jazz in this quote:

Some people lie when they fall in love, some people tell the truth. Some people do both, by telling honest lies, which is what most of us do. ‘Yes, I like jazz,’ we’ll say, when we mean, ‘I could like it with you.’

— A character from Julian Barnes’ Love, etc.

'Yes, I like board games,' I'll say, when I mean, 'I could like them with you.'

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