The first time I ever played crokinole, my grandfather pulled his game board out and asked my brother and I if we’d ever played, and if we wanted to. I’m not sure I had ever even heard the word before, but Jeremy and I agreed to play with him. I was horrible at it.
The point of crokinole (if you’re not Canadian and have never heard of this game, either) is to flick discs across a smooth board to get them in a small hole at the center of the board. The center ring is surrounded by pegs that make it difficult to place your shots, and your opponents are trying to knock your discs out of the rings as well. As I said, I was horrible at it. I could never visualize where the discs were supposed to go, and even when I could, I didn’t seem to make the flicking motion right. My discs would careen all around the board in the opposite direction of where I planned. For my grandfather, my absolute crokinole ineptitude made it fun. I remember his smile as I missed yet another shot, and as he and my brother teased me yet again.
My brother and I played every so often once we got home and my dad managed to find a board somewhere. It was a good way to make a long summer afternoon a little shorter. But after I went to college, I don’t know that I played any crokinole until this past summer, when my brother broke out his family’s board and the adults spent a long time laughing and trash-talking over the crokinole board after the kids went to bed.
I’m still just as bad at the game as when I was a kid; the discs still fly in the opposite direction of what I intend. And the teasing and the laughter were the same, too. The kids’ questions in the morning about just why we had been so loud reminded me of all the times I had asked the same questions in the morning after being sent to bed as a child. It always seemed like the adults got louder as soon as we got sent to bed, and I always wondered what I had missed when I heard them laughing in the living room.
It was remembering that laughter that prompted us to buy a board for our kids. It came today, from PEI. I had been telling the girls that part of their Canadian heritage was coming to our house. They had no idea what it was (and thankfully didn’t guess something stereotypical like maple syrup). As soon as we opened the box, all three of them asked to play. So the homework was put to the side, and dinner had to wait while we teased and laughed, and I missed my shots again.