the greatest game ever

I was riding on a heavily delayed flight from Baltimore to Kansas City yesterday, squeezed between two older folks, one one of whom smelled. I couldn’t quite pinpoint the source of the smell, but since one of the older folks was a dapper woman, I guessed it was the frazzled old man. The old man was reading a book about a 1958 football game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants. I leaned back in my chair and attempted to sleep, but being unable to doze off, I decided to open my left eye and skim what he was reading every once in a while. I think he noticed what I was doing, and let me know he didn’t like it by turning towards me to look out the window whenever he thought I was doing it; so I had to keep my head completely forward. You know the drill. The book was entitled “The Greatest Game Ever”, and towards the end of the flight we began to chat about it. Apparently, he was at the game (he was older than I thought) and he told me it wasn’t actually that good of a game. Either way, I dispute the title. The greatest game ever is not a particular football, basketball, or soccer game; it’s not even Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for N64 (that’s #2). It’s sardines. A game of sardines in a big, dark house has never failed me, and it never will. It’s guaranteed fun. Our game in Annapolis, Maryland, the night of July 4th was no exception.


If you don’t know what sardines is, it’s the opposite of hide and seek. Instead of everyone hiding and one person searching, only one person hides and everyone else searches. When the hider is found, the seeker hides with the hider, until eventually one seeker is left; ie, the loser. The loser is the next hider, get it? The game takes place in a house, preferably a large one, and all the lights need to be out, the darker the better. It gets even better when you meld it with 7 minutes in heaven, at least that’s what I hear…

We were able to corral 7 players for our ID4 game, (Austin, Greg, Mark, Emily, Corie, Hanna, and I) which was just right. The game started at 1 a.m. and ended at around 3:30 a.m. It was, without a doubt, the creepiest game of sardines I have ever played. The house was, as Emily pointed out, the size of a ‘manor’ and was so dark I couldn’t even see my own hand in front of my face. During the first game I attempted several times to convince the other players that we needed our cell phones, which were confiscated at the outset, to give us a chance of finding the hider, but really I was just scared and wanted a phone to call to my mommy. Austin was the first hider, and after a while he got tired of hiding and started banging on the walls of the deep closet he was hiding in. I immediately knew it was Austin, but knowing is only half the battle. The slow deliberate banging still managed to creep me out. And knowing that Austin would surely jump out and scare us (the wily bastard) didn’t keep me from jumping when he screamed and leaped out at us. I wasn’t the only one scared; the usually tough Greg, who has never officially been scared by a movie his whole life, was panting harder than a woman in labor after Austin jumped out at us.


Greg wasn’t the only one to lose his innocence that night; I about peed my pants feeling around several dark closets (I later opted for just kicking around the closets with my foot so I wouldn’t have to actually go in. it’s probably better off I never found anyone in there; they would have received a swift kick in the gut), and Hanna was peer pressured into smoking her first cigarette. I didn’t realize we had actually ‘peer pressured’ her into it until she said, “I can’t believe I’m doing this” and started coughing after her first inhale. Corie, on the other hand, claimed she “didn’t know how to inhale.” She was probably just lying and wanted to not die of lung cancer. I know, lame, right? This wasn’t the first time I had played sardines with Corie, but at least this time she didn’t insult me. A couple years ago, we were playing in my old college house and Corie was hiding in a closet with someone else. I found them, but naturally, the savvy player that I am, I wanted to shake the company I was in; so, I left the closet and said something like, “garsh, where are they?” and led them astray. I then went back to the closet and quietly hid with Corie and the other hider. I was so sly, in fact, that Corie didn’t even know I had joined them in the closet. I know this because she whispered to her co-hider, “Jon just looked in here, and didn’t even see us. what an idiot!” This was followed by a few seconds of silence and me saying, “I’m right here, Corie.” I’ll let you decide who the real idiot was…

I also cheated. By the third game, I had lost the jitters and was boldly swiping my hands through dark closets and under beds, but I wanted to win; so, I cheated. Mark, my best friend, was the hider. I broke off from the group and whispered Marks’ name in every room, knowing he’d cheat with me. Of course, Mark had beaten me to it, and was already cheating by rotating between two hiding spots. I should have known; Mark has always been a great cheater. I remember a particular game of capture the flag on a youth group retreat in 8th grade where Mark had somehow procured both teams’ colors (each team wore sashes or bandannas with their team color on them) and was able to go into both bases and secretly steal both teams’ flags. I remember him running up to me and saying, “Look what I have!”

Corie, Mark, and I were sitting on washers and dryers in the laundry room awaiting our turns to go search the dark manor one last time when I asked, “Why don’t adults play sardines?”

“I don’t know,” Mark said.

“I mean, how old are we all here? 23? We’re adults,” I said.

“Are we?” Corie answered.

I’ve realized that most real adults don’t really play sardines by the unimpressed looks on people’s faces as I’ve recounted how much fun we had playing. Will I one day wake up and adjust my suit in front of the mirror in preparation for work, and think about how childish I once was? Or, will I get home from work some day, and take my suit off in preparation for a good game of sardines with friends? And why does every scenario have me wearing a suit?


Btdub, here’s a commercial I was in a couple months ago:

3 thoughts on “the greatest game ever

  1. wonderful, so happy to be part of yer blog. There were so many hiding places yet to discover. Places that we’d never think to look. <br/><br/>Nice hands.

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