The Clue-giver draws a card from the card holder and places it on the easel, as shown in Figure 3. The word at the top of the card is the Guess Word the Clue-giver is trying to get his or her teammates to say. The five words below the Guess Word are the TABOO words the Clue-giver CANNOT say when giving clues for the Guess Word.
If your word is TALL, you CANNOT say SHORT, BIG, HEIGHT, SIZE, or TALES, but you CAN say, “This is the smallest drink at Starbucks,” or “Your mother, in heels,” or “Last night at Jessica’s party, you talked with that good-looking law student who was so strikingly this for over an hour, and when I told you I wanted to go home, you said, Just give me twenty more minutes, and I said, I’d really like to leave, and you said, Can you please just be patient? And I thought that was a real this kind of order. A real this kind of order indeed, Steve.”
If your word is BED, you CANNOT say BLANKET, PILLOW, SLEEP, ROOM, or HEAD, but you CAN say, “Our this has blue sheets,” or “On Sundays, we strip the this and put the blue sheets in the laundry and replace them with maroon sheets.” You can also say, “Sometimes, Jillian, if I think too much about us before going to this, I have dreams of all my teeth falling out. What do you suppose that means, Jillian? I guess it might mean I shouldn’t think so much about us before going to this, but it’s difficult when we share a this, when you’re right there in the this with me but you seem so far away.”
If your word is BREAKFAST, you CANNOT say MEAL, MORNING, PANCAKE, CEREAL, or TIFFANY’S, but you CAN say, “It was over this at the Skylight Diner on 34th Street that you and I decided to move in together. We had taken a crack-of-dawn train into Penn Station from your parents’ house in Ronkonkoma. You had an omelet, Steve, and I had a bowl of fruit. You said, It’s stupid that we’re paying rent on two different apartments, and I smiled and blushed. To us, the future seemed an endless web of possibilities, like the many-branched line of the Long Island Rail Road.”
If your word is PARK, you can say, “It was in Fort Greene this where I first realized I loved you, Jillian. It was August, and we bought a copy of the Sunday Times to read out in the this, and you took a nap under a red oak, and when the shadow moved and the sun hit your face you flinched, and then smiled. And I realized: this is what I wanted. Just like this. Forever. And it occurred to me, right there in the this, that I had fallen for you completely. I was irreparably head over heels for this woman who, two months earlier, had slid up next to me, drunk, at a party and, as if she knew me, slurred into my ear, You deserve someone who will love you in all your damaged glory.”
If your word is CHANGE, you can say, “This is what I did, gradually, imperceptibly. I can’t say how exactly but I’m not the same person you fell in love with in Fort Greene Park that Sunday in August. It’s an old cliché that women break up with men because they think they’ll this and they don’t, and men break up with women because they think they won’t this and they do, but is there also a cliché about why men and women stay together?” You can say that, sure, but why would you want to? You may be better off passing. You can say, “PASS,” and your teammate can groan, and you can say, “I’m sorry, Steve, I don’t want to do that one.” And “Besides,” you can say, “this game is stupid. I hate this stupid game. Next time we’re playing Jenga.”
If your word is TOMORROW, you CANNOT say DAY, TODAY, YESTERDAY, AFTER, or FUTURE — there are a whole lot of things you can’t say — but you CAN say, “This terrifies me and I don’t know why. Maybe I’m just a coward. Maybe we’re both cowards.”
If your word is EYES, you CANNOT say FACE, NOSE, GLASSES, SEE, or SOUL, but you CAN say, “Last night I looked into your these and I hit a wall. I could make out nothing past the iris, and I realized that the deep unquenchable yearning I long thought I had recognized was actually my own. How foolish of me. How foolish of us all.”
You can pass, and then your teammate can pass, and then you can thank your guests for coming, and for the cheesecake they brought, and as you clear the wine glasses from the living room, you can say, “This was fun,” in an absent tone that makes it clear that you don’t really mean it, but you don’t exactly not mean it either. And before you crawl off to your blue-sheeted bed, you can pack up the game and put it back on a shelf in the living room closet, where you don’t have to look at it until you drag it out for the next party, where you don’t even have to think about it.