While on a family vacation to Florida several years ago, my sister's husband Charlie introduced my family to a German board game called The Settlers of Catan. A good time was had by all, and after the first game ended we all decided to play another. After game number two, everyone was ready for bed. Everyone, that is, except Charlie and me.
Unable to find a suitable room in which to set up the game (my grandparents' condo had become infested with sleeping bodies), we were forced to set up shop in a large closet. There was no room for a table, so we pilfered a couch cushion from the livingroom and placed it across our laps as a playing surface. This still didn't leave us room for the numerous stacks of cards required by the game, so we pushed aside some of the preserves on the shelves which lined the closet.
"Ok, bricks are by the beets, we've got grain by the grape jelly, and sheep by the sauerkraut."
As the competition heated up, so did the cramped confines of our Closet of Catan. A portable fan was installed, and before long the atmosphere returned to not-quite-unbearable. Game after game we played, with plenty of victories on both sides. The end of each game was followed by a few moments of silence, and then our sheepish grins would signal our mutual consent to reset the board for another game. We must have played eight or nine games straight without a break until well past sunrise (although we were completely oblivious to this event from our vantage point).
My family eventually woke up and discovered the pitiful scene we had created around a couch cushion in my grandparents' closet. Charlie and I dragged ourselves off to bed, and just before I drifted off to sleep I decided to buy myself a copy of Settlers of Catan.
It would be entirely inaccurate to suggest that this night was my introduction to the world of board gaming. In my childhood, I spent countless hours playing classic games like Monopoly, Risk, and Clue. Given the great memories I have of these games, how is it possible that I allowed my interest in them to wane for so many years? I believe the answer is that, while I grew and evolved from childhood to adulthood, board games did not evolve with me (at least, none of the board games I was aware of).
A few friends, a couple of drinks and a board game... to me, that's a great evening. And each time I play them I am reminded of that first Settlers of Catan marathon in Florida.