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Foolish Games

June 11, 2012 — 19 Comments

I almost left this dress behind. Sure, I love the length and the print, but it’s very reminiscent of the Betsey Johnson dress I recently blogged, and the price sat just a little higher than most of the dresses I thrift. I was about to return the dress to the second-hand universe when I looked at the label. I’ll admit a high-end or vintage label can usually be the deciding stay-or-go factor if I’m on the fence. This label, however, wasn’t high-end at all. Oh, it’s vintage – probably late 80s. And I did recognize label, just not from anything in VOGUE. I recognized the label from my childhood. Observe:

What the heck right?! They just made Battleship into a movie, and this label would have me believe that at some point in the mid-eighties, they made UNO, everyone’s favourite card game, into a clothing line. Huh? It’s not like the label was just named UNO, either. The logo, the colour, the shape, it’s pure 80s UNO! This bizarre little dress came home with me, simply because I wanted to Google it (the purse and the necklace I’m wearing came home with me too because…I didn’t want the dress to be lonely).

Many times, the Googlematron tells me everything I need to know about vintage labels. This was not one of those times. It told me about UNO the bike wear company, UNO the California boutique, and UNO the Spanish for the word “one” (okay I knew that already), but did it tell me about an obscure 1980s clothing line that stole it’s brand identity from a card game invented in 1972 Ohio? Nope.

However, as is typical with all my WST endevours, I’m turning this dead-end into a post. In my search for answers, I spent a great deal of time collecting useless info on UNO, and it led me deep, deep into the web of 80s and 90s nostalgia blogs, retro board game dealers, and over-priced Etsy merchandise made from up-cycled UNO cards. I started looking for a label, I ended with a strong desire to compile a list of my favourite 80s and 90s kids games. And so, while I can tell you no more about this dress, I’m going to tell you about Guess Who and Trouble.

First, with the game that started this mess, UNO: I don’t have a lot to say about UNO, other than I never really liked it because we never had our own copy. I’d play it only at friends’ houses, knowing full well I was on their turf. Although I’d eventually seek revenge by inviting them over to my house for a round of Rummikub. Creepy face tile FTW!

UNO, as fun as it was, just didn’t hold my attention. I was more entranced by games that were made out of a lot of rainbox plastic crap. Point in case: Hungry Hippos! This game was so easy, and required little to no skill. Although its simplicity eventually became a problem. One summer evening, we grew tired of the game, so my sister dared her friend to pee in it. So she did. What? Don’t judge! Kids are weird! They pee on command!

Let’s also talk about the great amounts of stress these retro games induce. So many timers! So many buzzers! Nobody actually liked Operation. It was flippin’ scary. I remember playing this in the waiting room of the doctors office. Creeped me right out. Dumb move on the doctor’s part too, as I imagine he had to field many more unnecessary questions about how to avoid wrenches in your ankle and butterflies in your stomach.

In another category, we have the games that unintentionally taught kids about blighted hopes and dreams. Let’s single out Mouse Trap. What kid didn’t spend years pining for this plastic circus? Only to realize it takes 52 minutes to set up, and the pay-off isn’t worth it, even a little? Thanks, Mouse Trap, for peeing all over my child-like expectations. Looks like “pee” is this week’s theme. Who’d have thought? Let’s put in another nice picture of me to remind you guys I’m actually pretty classy.

Alright. On with the games. Perhaps no game was more psychologically damaging for my young mind than Girl Talk. That game was awful. I had to eat ketchup sandwiches, lie about the boys I liked, and when I messed up, I had to stick a ZIT ON MY FACE! That’s messed up guys. I probably spent years thinking my actual teenage acne was the result of my failures in life. Way to go, Girl Talk. I hope you get peed on.

I must confess this list is a little deceiving. While I played my fair share of board games, I actually spent most of my childhood on the computer, mastering pixely adventure games and Pizza Worm. I could easily add them to this list, but Commander Keen and Jezz Ball deserve an entry all their own. Maybe next time I’ll thrift a dress with an “MS DOS” label, because after “UNO”, you just never know.

As for my present day gaming habits, I’ve moved on from the computer now, too. Draw Something, anyone?

PS: Do my photos look extra special today? That’s because they were taken by Jentine. She rocks my socks and sandals right off.