Good Old-Fashioned Family Fun


My grandfather is a complete scoundrel. He smells of trickery and deceit. If he were a Norse god, he'd be Loki; if he were a Final Fantasy character, he'd be Cait Sith. He is a rogue, a rapscallion, a villain, a knave, and all the other Shakespearean insults combined. He is a man who, when playing a game of Boggle against his seven-year old granddaughter, cheats shamelessly and mercilessly - only to lie when he is caught. (Just so you know, "fazumy" is not a real word, and certainly not some African bush bird - no matter what he says).

Don't get me wrong: I love my grandfather, even when - especially when - he tries to cheat. He is a good man, though he doesn't sound like it; he only cheats when playing games with his family, and only then when the odds are overwhelmingly in his favor. He thinks it's funny, which, I suppose, it is - just not when he's doing it to me.

When I was younger, I lived with my father in a Baltimore suburb, and on alternate weekends I'd visit my grandparents, who lived an hour away. Every Friday the script would be the same. Grandmom, a Jewish stereotype incarnate, would spend the night at the auction house scavenging bargains, leaving Grandpop and me to amuse ourselves. Inevitably, ritualistically, we'd descend to the basement, where waiting on a wobbly bureau was an Atari 2600, painfully obsolete but treasured beyond compare.

Near the TV was an industrial-sized trashcan filled with musty stuffed animals. One by one, I'd take them out, and for several minutes I'd meticulously place them around the room: on bookshelves, in armchairs, on ottomans and coat-racks. Sometimes, Grandpop would help me, but usually he'd set up the Atari and our favorite game, Breakout, instead. When we both finished, he'd plop into a green chair absent of stuffed residents, pull down an imaginary microphone, and announce in his best Howard Cosell voice:

"Welcome! Thank you all for coming!" The stuffed animal audience, voiced by my clumsy ventriloquism, would cheer loudly.

"It's time for the rumble in the jungle"… the battle to end all battles"… the Video Game Championship-'' He'd pause dramatically, "- of the WORLD!

The crowd would go wild.

"In this corner, the lass with sass... Lara!" The crowd would cheer so wildly that one or two of them would fall over in wildness.

"In the other corner, the defending Atari champion"… Grandpop!" Abruptly, the audience would fall silent. He'd continue unfazed, "Tonight, it will all be decided: who is the Champion of the World, and who is just a sad, little fazumy"…"

And then, we'd play.

Surprisingly, my grandfather is rather good at video games. In addition to the Atari, my grandparents owned an NES, upon which Grandpop unleashed his true gaming fury: Second Quest Gannon fell before his dexterity; Samus removed her Varia Suit in honor of his speed; he even managed to navigate the mountain level in Ninja Gaiden (goddamn birds). When playing a mere Atari game, he could have schooled me blind-folded. But he wasn't about to let talent get in the way of his fun.

It's hard to cheat at video games, because, unless you can telepathically fiddle with circuitry, the high score displayed is generally correct. Ataris do not lie; it isn't in their programming. Although you can always declare, "I wasn't doing it right, lemme go again", at some point, you are either good at a game or not.

Nevertheless, Grandpop would find his ways. If I had to go to the bathroom, he'd play my round without telling me. Or he'd launch into a funny story about dinosaurs living in the sewers, so distracting me with laughter that I'd lose track of the ball. Sometimes he would body-check me. Once, he even pretended the stuffed animals were heckling me, but that made me cry, so he never did it again.

He would always win, of course. I never once beat him. I remember a time when I came close, but conveniently the power went out. He cackled, exclaiming, "Honey-pot, even God's on my side."

Yet, still I tried. Like Sisyphus with his boulder, still I tried.

All of those Friday nights accumulated have crafted me into a gamer of staggering tenacity, especially in the face of defeat. Shutting a game off before I've beaten the level, mission, or boss seems to me an act of despair and failure. Countless nights I've sacrificed, endlessly seeking that one last gold coin, that one last mini-boss, that one last power-up, clinging to my quest like a dog to a bone, refusing to just do the sensible thing and just quit already.

Eventually, I got better and started beating the games I played; now, I too can beat the mountain level in Ninja Gaiden. However, success is not the reason I continue. On some subconscious level, I see nearly every game I play as a competition against my memories. More than fifteen years later, I am still driven to absolve my defeat at the hand of my trickster grandfather.

Do I expect that one day, I will hear his voice in the back of my head, congratulating me on a game well played? If that is the case, I'm sorely mistaken; he'd never do anything so gracious as that.

More likely, I play so that if ever there is another Video Game Championship, I'll beat him whether he plays fair or not. Although, just between you and me, I hope he cheats. Indeed, I hope he'll continue to cheat forever.

Though, if there is a rematch, I'm going to cheat right back. Scoundrel's rules.


CEJ wrote:

Um, yes, but something akin to Princess or Angel. Honey-pot may be a generation thing but makes me think of hackers and getting your bank account emptied.

I've never heard of that before! I'm sorry that the affectionate name that my grandfather called me (and still calls me) makes you think of losing all your money. I guess its better that association, though, than thinking its wierd for other, more Nabokovian reasons.

Thank you, everyone, for the positive comments. I'm glad that you liked my tale. I'll try and keep it up!

KaterinLHC wrote:
Razorgrin wrote:
Fedaykin98 wrote:
belt wrote:

The term Honey-pot makes me feel uncomfortable.

Okay, I was keeping that to myself, but yeah...


Okay, you all stink. It is perfectly legitimate for grandfathers to call their granddaughters 'honey-pot', or for that matter, "sweetie" and "little one". It's not evidence of some stupid Lolita complex. Jesus, its not like he's calling me "sex-pot".

Don't you have any affectionate nicknames you use to refer to your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, little cousins, etc? Children require affectionate nicknames, it's just part of the deal.

Sure, I call mine "Sugar Lips" and "Lover"!

I have to admit that "honey-pot" does have a sexual connotation for me as well. It's also what my auto mechanic friends call the tub that they fill with oil, sludge and other semi-toxic waste liquids, which is then retrieved weekly by the highly paid Oil Recycling Engineer, or "Honey Dipper".

Don't worry Kat, I got your back!


Before worrying too much about what these clowns think of your grandfather's nickname, consider the sources. I mean, have you seen some of the searches they did to get here in the first place.

Glad to have you on board.

Elysium wrote:

Before worrying too much about what these clowns think of your grandfather's nickname, consider the sources. I mean, have you seen some of the searches they did to get here in the first place.

Hey! I resemble that remark!

(okay, actually Duffman recommended this place)

And I can't tell if Certis is being ironic or not. I mean, LOOK what that bear's doing to that honey pot!

And god knows where else the honey pot is connected to.

Fedaykin98 wrote:

And I can't tell if Certis is being ironic or not. I mean, LOOK what that bear's doing to that honey pot!

Is Pooh reading THIS maybe?

This is how googling sicko's end up here. I mean, this thread was about FAMILY FUN people!

Fletcher wrote:

Is Pooh reading THIS maybe?

The customer reviews on this one are SUPERB! Fletch for teh win

dejanzie wrote:

The customer reviews on this one are SUPERB!

I initially read that as "consumer reviews" heh, heh.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

I've always been fond of "an eater of broken meats". I haven't the faintest idea what it's supposed to mean, but it's one of a litany of insults hurled by Kent in King Lear.

A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson, glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch: one whom I will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deniest the least syllable of thy addition.

He's calling guy a servant. Back then, some servants were paid with food, and part of their wages was the parts of the roast that had been cut, but hadn't been eaten.