I took my 7-year-old daughter to the place where my mother once scouted my Christmas games, which was a neighborhood store where the proprietor capped paregoric and topped cheeseburgers from behind the same apron.
"It's a parking lot," my daughter said.
"Yes, but we can pitch pennies after five."
"Take me to Santa's workshop."
My daughter wants a football helmet because blocking gives her a headache; a stuffed-anything animal because the one they use for first base is dead; a football; and a football game for Rickey, since the quickest way to a boyfriend's heart is a direct pass. She says that the good thing about a football compared to a doll is that the football does not usually leak.
Whereas I selected games from the shelf beneath mouthwash, my daughter has the opportunity to observe games in a specialty store and be waited on by a Toy Executive, who seems anxious to match a game to your psyche. If you are concerned about your mental capabilities, for example, you may train on I.Q. (Reiss Game Inc., $8.95—prices of this and the following games vary by store and state).
There are more games than there were 20 years ago, primarily because this society has come out against discrimination. Adults may now retain their imaginations because of an expanding adult game market, which provides an outlet for victory without accompanying tennis elbows.
My parents generally played cards until I went to bed; therefore I never knew what was wrong with my electric football game until I was old enough to identify the aroma given off by beer. Teams moving right to left seemed to choke near the end zone. My father, competing into the night with other fathers, had spilled Coors around the 10-yard line.
Adults and/or executives may now hurl wadded requests for better working conditions through a tiny hoop similar to a basketball goal, which fastens onto a regulation executive trash can. Adults are now permitted to act their ages.
I left my daughter for a few minutes because my checkbook was in the car. By the time I returned, the games department had begun construction on three new shelves. There are more games than there were 20 minutes ago, never mind 20 years ago. There may be more games than there are ideas (The God Game, Start Your Own Religion, American Publishing Corp., $6).
All my daughter and I were allowed to do was read the boxes of games, or shake them slightly, because everything was sealed. My daughter said Rickey would enjoy at least the boxes of: Pro Draft (Parker Brothers, $8.99) because one of the kids on the block looks like the boy on the cover; ABC Monday Night Football, 1,480 play combinations (Aurora, $11.88) because the child on the box is happy and the adult is morbid in obvious defeat; NFL Electric Football (Tudor, $8.44) because it rattles loudest; Pivot Pool (Milton Bradley Co., $18.99) because Lucille Ball is pictured saying "This is my favorite family game"; Evel Knievel Stunt Stadium (Ideal, $13.88) because there is an ambulance on the box; or Beat Detroit, The Game That Will Crack You Up (Dynamic Design, $8) because there are heaps of wrecked cars on the box.
Turning from the games we found two items that we could touch, Sport Craft table soccer ($285), wrapped only by a clerk's scowl, and a Nerf football, which is smaller than a regulation football and approximately as soft as bananas.
Since there was nothing to do on the soccer table except spin handles and pretend, I told my daughter to run a post route. She ran what was almost a post-mortem route into tennis rackets. I chucked her a Nerf, spiralling it over the dolls. We were obviously intercepted by a hidden camera.
"We do not become personal with, or heave about, the merchandise," a clerk said. "Even after we have bought it. That will be $2.88 plus tax please."
I told my daughter that Rickey gets the purple Nerf.
She said there went her chances.
I said that when he gets to be 18, he can borrow my car and TV Football (Coleco, $7.88), which is billed as The Most Exciting Adult Game in Town.