The Name Game

If you hadn't guessed, the name game is a drinking game.  Much like 
"buzz", the game mentioned in one of the fish tales, the name game is
designed to make drinking more fun and interactive.  This and "three 
man" were my personal favorites.  "Quarters" was another game with 
the same objective.  But nothing could touch the name game for pure
fun.  Here's how the game is played.  Everyone has a beer, and sits 
in a circle.  Someone starts by saying a name.  A name of someone, 
real or fictional, cartoon or person, that the majority of the assembled
bunch has heard of.  For example, "Bruce Springstein".   Once this 
name is used, the person to the left of the speaker has to come up 
with a name where the first name begins with the same letter as the
first letter of the last name of the person just used.  So if someone
used "Bruce Springstein", the next person could use "Sandra Bullock".
And then "Brad Pitt", followed by "Perry Mason".  Now "Perry Mason"
could easily be followed by "Marilyn Monroe".  If a name is used where
the first and last names have the same first letters, the direction of
the game reverses.  So if you started going clockwise, it switches to 
counter-clockwise, and the person who said "Perry Mason" would be 
forced to come up with an "M" name quick as it reversed back to them.

This always leads to awesome back and forth struggles early.  Names 
can only be used once, but the double "M's" are numerous.  "Marilyn
Monroe", then "Mickey Mouse", then "Minnie Mouse", "Mighty Mouse", 
"Marla Maples", and "Mickey Mantle" cause a flurry of immediate 
reversals between two players like a tennis match until one breaks it
off with a "Minnie Pearl" or whatnot.  But these flurries are brief 
early spats that fizzle soon.  Nobody drinks heavily early.  It is 
later, when the common names have been used that several beers get 
consumed.  It goes like this.  When it is your turn, you need to come
up with a name or face the chant.  The other players chant after a 
second or two..."Drink while you think!, Drink while you think!"  The
cry doesn't help you think, and, believe it or not, guzzling beer does
not help you conjure up a good "Q" once "Quincy Jones" is used.  Also, 
recognition is a difficulty.  The other players must recognize the name.

I tried and tried, but nobody remembered "Arie Lyendyk", Indy 500 
winner.  These are the dangers of the name game.  But the game is 
memorable.  I recall one evening when 15 of us were playing and someone
got by with "C.T. Westcott" (nobody had heard of him, but it sounded
valid, and the guy was already pasted, so we let it pass).  So it came
to Robert Nogueras who was faced with a "W".  His expression and tone 
made the moment.  He brought his beer to his lips as if conceeding that
he would have to ponder to the chanting.  All the good "W"'s were out
it seemed.  "Woodrow Wilson", "Wilson Phillips", "Wynonna Ryder", 
"Wynonna Judd", "Will Smith", "William Tell", and "Warren Moon" were 
all out.  Then a smile appeared on Robert's face.  He lowered his bottle, 
and softly sang, "Willie Wonka!!!!" in a voice that creshendoed to a 
shout almost.  Whoa...we all thought.  Got the "W" and reversed it back
to John Scroggins who is already pasted.  You couldn't buy a moment
like that.  I guess you had to be there, but to this day, I can't hear
of Hans Christian Anderson or Gene Wilder without thinking of that
night, and the name game.  And the movie always reminds me of Robert
Nogueras' redemption person, and how he said the name Willie Wonka.

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Copyright © Richard Hay 1998