Daughter or Date?

We have a new family game that, if I had to predict, might go viral and take down the internets.  The new game is called Daughter or Date?

The way Daughter or Date? is played is whenever you are out in public and see an old guy and a young girl, you have to try and guess if the girl is the guy’s daughter, or the guy’s date.  You look for clues one way or the other, and it is not uncommon to take a secret photo and then send it around the family string to get everyone’s opinion.  Epic new game, with lots of strategery involved.

Daughter or Date? is a takeoff of a game that Molly and her friends play at college called Brother or Boyfriend?  That game is played the same way, in that you secretly look at and judge a couple, and talk about them behind their back.  The object in Brother or Boyfriend? is to determine if a young couple is dating, or they are siblings.  Of course, in the college arena, probably 99% of the couples reviewed are dating, so this is not so much a game, but more of an astute social commentary on certain brother and sister pairings that are maybe a little too touchy feely, at least in states that are not immediately south of Indiana. 

There are many strategies for winning Daughter or Date?  Molly looks at the girl’s purse, and then attempts to judge whether it is a brand that would be bought by that particular guy as a boyfriend, or as a dad.  She will have to explain that strategy to you, because I don’t understand it.  I use my superior ability to know a guy’s age close to my own.  College girls can’t tell a 40 year old guy from a 55 year old guy.  That is known.  I estimate the guy’s age, divide by 2, and then add 7, the recognized formula for finding the socially acceptable limit for dating a younger woman.  Then I estimate the girl’s age.  If the girl’s age is over the half plus 7 mark, the couple is probably on a date.  If under, I have to do further analysis, which I keep confidential to retain my competitive advantage.  Others look for touching, and try to read into that.  A million ways to win this game.  

Anyhow, its a great new game, which leads to argument and controversy, which is really the only reason we play our family games.  We have a LONG history of stupid games like this.  I don’t know why, but we have all kinds of dumb games that we have played since the kids were very little.  Our family games are a constant source of fighting, dispute and argument, which is why we love them so much.  The following are some of our other epic family games.

First to Compliment My Haircut Gets a Dollar

Sometime in the early aughts I started shaving my dome.  I had been going bald for several years, but things were getting really bad up top with really nothing there but a few strands to move around.  Like a lot of guys that go through this, you just have to own it at some point, and shave all that shit off.  That is what guys do.  This is known.

Well, this is not known to kids and wives, apparently, because none were too happy about this development, and my new look was met with dismay.  To get out in front of this story, and try to turn it into a positive, I proclaimed that I would give a dollar to anyone who was first to compliment my haircut, which are frequent when you are bald.  As planned, rather than shock and hazing when the clippers came out, I instead received praise and compliments, with everyone competing to see who could be first to tell me how great my hair (head?) looked!  A glorious development, and a contest that continues to this day.

The NFL Game

The way the NFL game is played is that whenever you see someone wearing an NFL jersey, hat or anything to signify team affiliation, you have to be the first to say “Packers Fan” or “Bears Fan” or whatever.  Whoever is first to spot that person, gets 1 point.  If you go up to that person and say “Go Bears,” and high five them, that is worth 5 points.  Obviously, you don’t play this game at an actual NFL game, because you would be overwhelmed.

We would play this game whenever we were on vacation, and keep track through the week of the point standings.  Like any family game, the competition would lead to arguments and discord over the point total, or who had been first to see the Packers fan, or if someone had already gotten him earlier.  Never ending fun!

The Word Game

The Word Game would come into play at any family dinner whenever one person would leave the table to go to the bathroom.  With that person gone, the remaining diners would agree on a strange word that everyone at the table would then have to drop in a sentence when the absent person came back.  The object would be to use the word as discretely as possible without the absentee family member noticing, with those at the table winning if everyone used it before the victim noticed, or the victim winning if he or she called out everyone on using “excursion” or “fetus” for no apparent reason.  

In the early years, Jake would typically blow it somehow, and laugh when he said the word, revealing that something was afoot.  As we evolved, the game became cutthroat.  If you left for the bathroom, you knew goddamn well the family was conspiring behind your back, and would be playing the game when you got back.  So you were looking for any commonality of words in the conversation, and generally just on high alert so that you didn’t get owned.  Great bonding experience.


I’m probably forgetting many of our family games that came and went over the years. Many of our competitions were not technically “games,” in that no score is kept nor winner declared, but they became traditional competitions nonetheless.  Like the Hide the Nordstrom Bill game, or the Insult Dad’s Girlfriend game.  And then there are the running jokes, like I Had a Dream, where you tell everyone at breakfast that you had a terrible dream the previous night.  But then when you describe it, it is really the plot of a movie that everyone has seen.  Similarly, there is the Someone Should Invent That game, where we say that someone should invent something that actually already exists.  Probably have to be there for that one.

The Whole Family is Here!

Family @Karls wedding

The original family game–The Whole Family is Here!  

I started this game when the kids were little, probably about around when Alexa was 7, Molly 5 and Hannah 3.  Whenever we would be together for dinner, but with Trish or one of the kids missing because she was shopping or at a friend’s house or at dance or whatever, I would very ceremoniously declare how proud and happy I was to have the whole family together!!  My declaration, of course, was patently absurd, with one member of the family obviously  missing.  My grievous slight on one of our own did not, of course, go unnoticed and the girls would scream out that mommy, or Alexa, or whoever, was not present, and we certainly did NOT “have the whole family together.”  No matter how many times I pulled this on very young kids, it never failed to get a laugh, so of course I continued doing it because that’s how I am.

My absurd declarations eventually evolved into a contest to see who could be first to identify when we only had 5 out of the 6 family members present, and then make a ceremonious “WE HAVE THE WHOLE FAMILY TOGETHER” declaration.  The first person to identify the 83% situation would receive praise and accolades for being the first to notice.  

But then Trish died.  

The night she died, we had lots of help clearing out the bedroom and her hospital bed and basically getting the house back in order.  When everyone left, it was just me, Alexa, Molly, Hannah and Jake.  After a month of the house being filled with friends and family, the house was really quiet, and strange, with just the five of us.  

Jake quietly declared, “We have the whole family together.”  

We don’t play that game anymore.


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