Saturday, August 26, 2006

Games People Play

What is it with this game Old Maid? How is it possible in this age of political correctness that this game still exists?
Kid's toys, games, and songs have become very politically correct, although this doesn't necessarily make them okay. Barbie can have a career now along with her 22-inch waist provided it's a career she can do in her high heeled shoes.
I admit I found it annoying at first that in the Dan Zane version of Jamaica Farewell it's his friends who are being left in Kingston Town and not "a little girl," and it's the dancers who sway too and fro and not the "dancing girls," but I've gotten used to it.
In one particular Cinderella rewrite there is still a fairy godmother but this time it's Prince Cinders who she rescues from his thuggish royal brothers and sends to the dance.
So I'm surprised we even still have this children's game in which the absolute worst thing that can happen is for you to wind up a single woman. Why haven't the feminists of the world risen up to demand a change? Why isn't there a version called "Dirty Old Man" or "Weird Bachelor Uncle?"
I guess that would be unfair to men though wouldn't it?
Let's look at it from another angle; the other characters in the deck are all described according to their professions: Waitress Wendy, Mailman Marvin, Labtech Lil. This must be because employers only hire married people. Poor Old Maid, not only can she not snag a husband, apparently she can't hold down a job either.
Using this logic it would be more appropriate for the undesirable card to be something like Unemployed Edwina, or Slacker Stanley.
Or maybe some anthropomorphism could be introduced. The Old Maid could be changed into a big bad wolf since wolves are already maligned in many a children's story. To give it a real Cape Cod slant, instead of a wolf, make it a coyote. Change them to Waitress Wallaby, Mailman Manatee, and Labtech Leopard. This would even eliminate some of the more stereotypical players like Nurse Nell would could become Nurse Needlefish and Tutu Teri who could morph into Tutu Turtle. It would also lend itself to more interesting illustrations.
But the bottom line is, my three-year-old loves to play this game. Note: if you are ever called upon to play Old Maid with a small child, enlist the help of at least one other adult, preferably more than one, it's a heck of a lot more interesting.
My son doesn't have any idea what an "old maid" is and in an obvious case of "person unsure of a concept," he really wants to be the person that is stuck with the old maid at the end of the game.

song: Games People Play • artist: Alan Parson Project

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Joanne!
In reference to this blog, I had to comment! I'm hoping that this is the same Joanne that I attended school with growing up on the Cape. You see, I remember the "Jamaican Farewell" because you used to sing it when we were kids. It's so funny because I just sang that to my son last week! My sister found your site and sent it to me, love it! I hope to hear from you...Laura F.