by Evelyn Everlady
Every family has its fair share of lunatics, alcoholics, weirdos, smug hippies, right wingers, racists and garden variety assholes (to paraphrase Tolstoy). And nothing exacerbates everybody’s awfulness and passive aggressive — and aggressive aggressive — behavior like a family gathering. With Thanksgiving just a few Xanax away, and in the the spirit of the holiday season, I’d like to share a secret family recipe that has nothing to do with food.
Fingo — that’s Family Bingo, of course — is a game that’ll save your next family function. Or, at the very least, it will make things a lot more interesting. Here’s what you’ll need in order to play it.
1. At least two other members of your family that you are on fairly good terms with who also know all the characters involved.
2. Enough extended family and in-laws to make things interesting.
3. Someone who knows how to make and send around Excel spreadsheets. (Thanks, Dad!)
Then you and your fellow Fingo players make a list of 25 predictive bad behaviors that could possibly/probably be acted out by the rest of your relatives. This might initially seem like a lot! But start thinking back: all those wedding and funerals and graduations and past Thanksgiving and Christmases — I’m guessing you’ll have no trouble. I suggest a healthy mix of easy ones (Uncle Jack gets drunk), some specific ones (Aunt Judy gets a “migraine” and disappears upstairs to take a nap) and a couple of curveballs for fun (predicting who will get into the biggest fight and what subject they fight about tends to always work).
Then you nominate someone with the best computer skills to make your Fingo card. (Example above, and downloadable version below.) We do a classic five across/five down and then scramble the order around for every player, so that everyone has an individual Fingo card with each action in a different order.
Email it to everyone who is playing so they can sneak glances at it on their phones from time to time. The winner is the one who gets five in a row in any direction: across, up, diagonal.
The first time we played, my father suggested, “And the phrase we can use in public, when announcing a ‘BINGO,’ I propose to be ‘By the way, IN regard to ____, I’ve got to GO ____ it.’ Should be easy to work into our conversations.” Unsurprisingly, this didn’t work. I know, because I was the winner and I giddily (and somewhat drunkenly) ran up up to each of my fellow players, scream-whispering, “I GOT IT. FINGOOOOOOO. NAILED IT.”
It’s up to you if you want there to be a prize involved. When I won my sister took a picture of me triumphantly holding up my iPhone with the winning board and made it into a coffee mug. I’ve never looked happier. Winning — and surviving — should really be enough.
Here’s a Google spreadsheet: you can download it as an excel file, or copy and paste into your own spreadsheet
. “Enjoy” your holidays.
No one should ask Evelyn Everlady — or any lady! Or actually anyone, really! — why she’s single this Thanksgiving. You keep your drunk mouth shut!