We celebrated my birthday this year at the close of a workday. My beloved agreed to play a game with us, and I gave her the choice, knowing full well that she would pick Wise and Otherwise, my favorite party game, and one I had been eager to introduce to the group.
Oh, what a gloriously fun game this is. Something about the proverb format that inspires brilliant bluffs.
This game started out a bit unusually, with few of us able to bluff the others. The Moroccan saying "He became a raisin. . . before he was a grape" was correctly guessed by most of us, with only Ed's bluff fooling anyone. Then came the Norwegian saying "He who knows little. . . forgets little." Too many of us submitted predictable bluffs such as "speaks the most," or "talks much," so everyone guessed the right one correctly.
I thought I had a good (and amusingly apt) bluff for the Swahili proverb beginning "He who climbs a ladder. . . " I submitted "shows his bottom," thinking that would be a suitably deflating proverb, but I didn't fool anyone. Most people guessed the right answer, "has to come down."
I also had high hopes for my poetic-justice answer completing the Persian "I'll eat what I've paid for. ." ". . and I'll pay for what I've eaten." But again, no takers. My consolation was that I was the only one to correctly guess the bizarre real answer, "however much it croaks."
Then came the Maori saying, "Bail the water out of. . . " I incorrectly guessed J's bluff, "the sinking boat." I fooled one person (finally) with "your grainhouse first." Only Kelly got this one right -- "your mouth." Uh, OK. . . .
Around this time, we realized that I'd been confusing Ben and Kelly's pawns. We had to collect the previously-used answer sheets and reconstruct the score. Instead of Ben with 10 and Kelly with 6, it was the other way around, with Ben in last place.
I was the next Reader, and I thought I'd stump everyone with the weird English saying, "A good candle holder makes a good. . . " But Ben correctly guessed that the answer was "gamester," of all things.
J then offered the Roman saying, "Borrow from. . . " I submitted "your enemy." Someone else submitted "your enemies." The right answer was "oneself" and was correctly guessed by everyone.
Then came the Genoese saying, "It is better to wear out one's shoes. . . " Two people submitted an answer I'd thought of but dismissed as too obvious: "than one's welcome." (I also figured it was too idiomatic to English to be a Genoese proverb.) I submitted "than one's bed," which was very close to the right answer, which I also guessed properly, "than one's sheets."
This precipitated a silly and punchy discussion about whether one's sheets or one's bed actually would wear out first. Everyone except me said that sheets would wear out much more quickly, though I posited that sufficient up-and-down motion on springs without any sliding friction against sheets could produce the opposite result. Kelly appeared a bit horrified by my suggestion that one's bedsprings could be the first to go. . .
Now came the Russian saying, "I will have trousers. . . " Two of us submitted "in the winter." Another suggested, "when I no longer have vodka." The right answer was, "but I don't know when."
By this point, we were all getting suitably silly, and I was inventing mock parables that consisted of nothing more than English obscenities. My bride slipped out of the room long enough to attend to my birthday cake, and during that time I convinced Ed to read the next card very seriously, identifying it as a Pakistani saying, and seeing if we ould get J to bite. Ed solemnly intoned, "There's an old Pakistani saying. . . 'Eat shit and. . . '" But J didn't even do a double-take, rolling her eyes over the joke.
The real question was, "The ship does not go without. . . " And for the first time in the game, none of us got it right. Two bluffs were the similar "the captain," and "its captain." I said "ballast", thinking it very metaphorical at the time, but just now I couldn't remember my bluff to save my life (I had to look it up in the sheets.) I did fool one party. Ben actually fooled me with "the Pope's blessing," which is pretty remarkable considering that the Vatican is landlocked. The right answer was "the boat." Ed thus became the only Reader to get any points the whole game.
My last successful bluff of "ballast" was indeed enough to get me into the winner's circle. But in W&O, the winning is so much less important than the laughing.