Friday, May 18, 2007

Somewhat Trivial Pursuit

Today I stopped into Variantes, a very well-stocked game store in the 6th arrondissement, to pick up a copy of Trivial Pursuit Paris. Always curious, I asked the owner if there were other jeux de société in the shop similar to Trivial Pursuit that might have Paris as a theme. He bristled and, looking at me askance, scoffed, "Mais madame, in my opinion Trivial Pursuit is not a 'jeu de société'." (Okay, let me wrap my brain around this for a second. I think of jeu de société to mean a board game or parlor game.) "Ah, oui?" I query. (Thank God I'm suddenly remembering all the words used in French for treading water intellectually while you process thought during a discussion: euhhh, ah oui? alors, enfin...) I rose to the challenge. "Well, monsieur, if it is not, then what is, in fact, a jeu de société?" "Un jeu de société, Madame, is something like Monopoly, " he reprimanded. "Or Scrabble. Un jeu where you have a chance to use your skills to win. Trivial Pursuit is just a test of -- little bits of information. Certainement pas social," he sniffed. So I had to take all this in and dwell philosophically about his perspective while forking over major euros for the bloody expensive game I was intent on buying. Thought in, money out: difficult mental multitasking. To me, Trivial Pursuit is like Jeopardy, like "the Weakest Link" (awful, I admit, but which exists on French TV as Le Maillon Faible.) I kind of understood what he meant but was totally confounded by his vehement reaction to my innocent question. IT'S JUST A GAME, I wanted to say. I bit my tongue. Hmm. In English we call them board games or parlor games, and I think we view them all the same. We either love or hate this kind of group activity. Camp-counselor-mom that I am, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool fan of all entertaining activities that bring people together to have fun. Charades, Twenty Questions, Botticelli, even Parcheesi -- all are family favorites. His point was that this game of questions and answers creates only a competition -- egad, of trivia! -- and therefore is not a social activity but merely a concurrence. Either you know the answers or you don't. He curtly dismissed my purchase of Trivial Pursuit (which, we might note, he stocks in his store and was more than willing to take my cash for) disdainfully, "Maybe it's fun for ... people with un intérêt touristique." Ouch. That stings. Maybe he's just a sore loser. I won't be inviting him to my Trivial Pursuit soirées, that's for sure. Variantes
29 rue St. Andre des Arts
75006 Paris

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