Family Ties, Family Lies

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for making memories and as the 2012 version approaches, I still smile about the year my family discovered one of our older relatives maliciously broke 13 windows as a 6th-grader, another family member (now a teacher) once called her teacher a not-very-nice word, one of my calmest in-laws wished she was Tomb-Raider Lara Croft and another drove a car over 110 mph down the local highway.

These revelations were not the result of too much alcohol or stories whispered behind closed doors. Rather, they were shared amid much hilarity as we played our own loud and enthusiastic version of “I Don’t Think So.”

The object of the game is to figure out who’s lying, and who’s not, when people respond to a written or spoken prompt, such as “The meanest thing I ever did at work or school was….” or a question like “Who did you have a secret crush on in high school?”  

The others in the “I Don’t Think So” game attempt to guess whether the response is the truth or shout, “I don’t think so” if they believe the speaker is being less than honest. Each correct guess equals a point. (We put pennies in a cup to keep score.) The winner is the person with the most correct guesses after everyone has at least one opportunity to spin a story (or not).

There were 14 people of all ages around our Thanksgiving table and some were unexpectedly good liars. That, in itself, was revealing. And in these days of young people constantly connected to text-messaging and other technology toys, it was a pleasure to watch them listen to their relatives. Although my college freshman niece claimed the prize at game’s end, we were all winners. We’d learned new things about each other and shared some hilarious – and surprising – stories from our pasts.

I think all of us will always chuckle over the memory of my beloved late father’s response to “the most outrageous thing I ever said was…..”

With a straight face, he quickly replied: “I do.” This prompted much laughter, a few shocked looks, and more than one shout of “I don’t think so!”

He smiled and said, “Of course, I was lying.”

Harmony restored and a great story to recall at future family gatherings.

For those interested in playing “I Don’t Think So,” I've listed our prompts. But the beauty of this game is you can make up prompts, or questions, to fit any audience or occasion. You can require everyone to answer one question, or take turns and all respond to several. The questions/prompts can be posed by an “emcee” or written on slips of paper to be drawn from a hat. Here are the prompts we used:

The meanest thing I ever did at work/school was …

The thing I got away with that my parents never knew about …

The worst Christmas present I ever RECEIVED was … (because)

The worst Christmas present I ever GAVE was … (because)

The character in a book or movie I most want to be like is … (because)

The naughtiest thing I’ve ever done …

The first time I smelled marijuana …

The most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me was …

The best job I could ever possibly have is …

The thing that I pretend to like that I don’t really like is …

My perfect vacation spot is (or would be) … (because)

When I want to waste time I …

The food I hate the most but pretend to like …

The fastest I’ve ever driven a car, truck, motorcycle or boat …

My worst nightmare is …..

The craziest dream I ever had …..

The craziest plan I ever made ….

The most outrageous thing I’ve ever said is …

The stupidest thing I ever did….

The celebrity I would most like to meet is…

 

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