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Little Spouse On The Prairie: Little Pieces

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

My world works better if things are in their places.  My anxiety is considerably less if the items in the junk drawer are alphabetized.

I did not, however, choose to alphabetize our board game storage. Initially, I did alphabetize, but all of the boxes are different sizes, and that method of filing resulted in haphazard, wobbly stacks.  Incidentally, why on earth don’t game companies band together, for the betterment of humanity, and make all game boxes the same size?

Quite used to dealing with adversity, though, I came up with an alternate filing system based on box size.  For several weeks following an organization spree, I can open the game cupboard doors, breathe deeply in a meditative manner, and relax.  If other rooms are starting to pile up, I can get the equivalent of a $200 therapy session just by opening the doors of the game cupboards and staring at the stacked-by-size boxes for 10 minutes.  It’s an economical way to find my Zen.

This treatment method only fails if I open those doors to find open boxes, Monopoly money scattered, pawns in disarray, and, God forbid, boxes of differing sizes stacked together.  This happens after each time that my children play games unbeknownst to me, which is, admittedly, a rare occurrence.  Typically, my kids love their mother too much to ever exclude her from a rousing round of Scrabble.  They even, on occasion, pretend they DON’T want to play when I enthusiastically yell, “Family game night!” on a Saturday evening.

Despite my vigilance, another board game anomaly sometimes occurs.  For example, 14 years ago, I purchased an Ants in Your Pants game to play in the hotel room with then little Millie while her dad attended a business conference.  Somehow, one of the ants got lost, and I didn’t discover the disaster until we returned to our hometown, five hours away.  Though I thought about calling the hotel and having the staff search for the wayward ant, in the end, after weeks of sleepless nights, I was forced to discard the game.  I did keep the remaining ants as spares, in case we ever lost an ant in the replacement game.  Thankfully, that grave eventuality has never occurred, but I still have the ants carefully reserved.

Recently, my youngest child, Clementine, received an Operation game for Christmas.  As wrapping paper, bows, tags, and ribbons were flying about, Clementine removed the cellophane wrapper and began to play.  I tried to put the brakes on this clearly dangerous activity, but in the chaos of taking Christmas photos, I did not accomplish that goal. 

Operation is the game in which players attempt to surgically remove various teeny, tiny plastic parts from a clown-like figure using only a pair of metal tweezers. Within minutes of opening this game, somehow the clown’s “broken heart” was lost.  Though we combed through wrappings and even the garbage once the devastating loss was discovered, our efforts were to no avail.

Fourteen years ago, when our Ants in Your Pants piece went missing, I was not as internet savvy as I am today.  Shortly after the holidays, I decided to order the “broken heart” piece from eBay.  After a brief search, I found a seller who specializes in missing game pieces.  I was gratified to see that, had I lost the plastic ant from Ants in Your Pants today, I would have been able to replace it for a mere $12, plus $7 in shipping.

The Operation “broken heart” piece, because only one of those comes in each game, was slightly more.  To replace the piece, I’d need to pay $14 plus shipping. I was moderately surprised by the shipping price, as the little heart is only a millimeter thick and two and a half millimeters in diameter, and weighs so little that it doesn’t register on a milligram scale.

But, the cost of carelessness knows no bounds.  Only briefly did I consider the fact that Santa paid less than that for the entire game. I hit confirm on the order, and looked forward to a good night’s sleep once that little broken heart arrived in the mail.

Enjoy your Sunday with a round of family board games, High Plains listeners.  Tune in to Little Spouse on the Prairie next Sunday morning at 8:35 a.m. CT.

Host of Little Spouse on the Prairie, a regional comedy feature that airs Sundays at 8:35 a.m. during Weekend Edition.