This one is Anaheed’s favorite. She tried really hard to explain it to me: “GHOST is where you and someone else (or a couple someones) take turns saying letters aloud, adding the letters to a word that you’re making together. The first person whose addition creates a valid word more than 3 letters long loses. (You also cannot add a letter that doesn’t go toward a valid word, and you can be challenged on this front.) Does that make sense? You play until one person loses 5 times—every time you lose you get one of the letters that form the word GHOST for some reason that is totally arbitrary, then when you have the whole word you’ve lost. Like in the basketball game HORSE. If you’re playing with more than two people you keep going until one last person hasn’t spelled ghost yet. It has nothing to do with ghosts, though! I don’t even think a ghost would like it. Does this make any sense at all?”
Fun-ness Rating: Fun! I just tried this out on a horrible train ride in Chicago where the train was stopped on the tracks for an hour for no reason. It takes a second to understand the rules, but Anaheed’s onto something, here.
Make Out, Marry, Push Off a Cliff
This game has about a hundred different names, some of which are really dirty, but the general idea is the same. You and your car mates pick three celebrities or other people you all know of, then go around in a circle, explaining which one you’d make out with, which one you’d marry, and which one you’d push off a cliff. OBVS YOU DON’T MEAN IT and would never hurt a real person, but it’s fun anyway, especially if you choose three very good-looking celebrities and have to make a Serious Choice, factoring temperament, wittiness when being interviewed, wealth, and fashion choices into your ultimate life-or-death decision.
Fun-ness Rating: Seriously fun! You can agonize over whether Jon Hamm would make a good husband in real life. (Can you picture him playing with a golden retriever in a motor-oil-stained undershirt on the front lawn of your house in the suburbs? I can. And it’s good.) You can mull over whether Tilda Swinton would make out with you and then let you rummage through her closet afterward, or if you should push her off a cliff in favor of Emma Watson, who clearly has a patent on “adorable.” You can endlessly circle around the entire cast of Saved by the Bell—Zac, Slater, Screech? (Seems easy, right? But think looooong and hard about who’s going to really help with the dishes every night.) There are so many options to this game.
Make It Into Something
Both Dylan and Laia suggested this one. Dylan explains: “Make up stupid acronyms for the license plates you see. I’ll type a random one now. FKE923. Ok: Freak Klub Elemental 923. Also I like the game where I just yell at people.”
Fun-ness Rating: No idea. But if Dylan likes it…
A venerable car-ride tradition, 20 Questions is the one car game I absolutely hate, but only because I really, really suck at it. To play, you pick something—anything in the whole wide world—and your partner gets to ask you 20 questions before having to guess what it is. Start broad with your questions, like, “Is it an animal, vegetable, or mineral?” and narrow things down from there.
(To give you an idea of how terrible I am at this game, when I drove to Cleveland last month with my friend Jen, she guessed that I had chosen “stir-fry” after FOUR GUESSES. And…after 47 GUESSES [yes, she kept count], I STILL did not get that Jen had chosen “a dragon.”)
Fun-ness Rating: I hate this game. But everyone else loves it. They perk up in the car and go, “Oooh! 20 Questions!” so I guess we can rate it as Horrible Yet Extremely, Inexplicably Popular.
Got an irritating little brother or sister? Here’s a game I fell for for a shamefully long time:
The Quiet Game.
I literally did not understand that the Quiet Game was a “game” designed to make me and my sister shut up until I was 12 YEARS OLD. Now I trust no one.
Here’s how you play: You turn to your noise-making, annoying younger sibling and say, “Hey, you wanna play the Quiet Game?” in a very excited voice. (They are going to want to play, because they love you and look up to you and think you’re so cool and trust you with their little saucer eyes full of love.) The Quiet Game is simple: first one to talk or make any kind of noise loses. The end.
Fun-ness Rating: Blissfully fun. I have played this with young friends of mine for extended periods of blessed silence lasting up to half an hour. You have to be super serious about no noise, and make stern faces at the younger players to keep them interested, but not hearing their squeaky little voices for a few minutes in a row? PRICELESS.
That’s all the car games I know! Hope you don’t need this list anytime soon! (But I bet you will.) ♦