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