It all started thirteen years ago. Jamie and I, newly married, joined my family on a camping trip to Rainbow Falls near Chehalis, WA. The Beaudry and Donahue families met us there as well, adding yet one more memorable adventure to the many stories our clans had shared over the years. Each evening around the campfire we looked forward to swapping stories and playing games.
One evening, amid s'more building and insufferable puns and jokes from the patriarchs, Jenae and Katie Donahue announced, "Hey -- we have a new game!" Every eye zeroed in on the girls. We loved games. We were ready for this one. "It's called, 'Hinky-Pinky.'" Katie went on to explain the rules. "The idea is to come up with a rhyming word pair, such as 'glad dad.' Don't tell us the words, but instead give us a pair of synonyms that serve as a clue to the rhyming words. For example, I would give the clue, 'happy father,' and you would try to guess my rhyme, 'glad dad.' Okay?"
The game was an instant hit. It didn't take long before our clan was ensconced in a thick, smokey whirl of rhymes, eyes and embers sparking simultaneously. At first we tested the waters with simple clues like "warm pan" (which really meant "hot pot") and "distant automobile" ("far car," naturally). Then, we got serious. One syllable words did not suffice. Two and even three syllable words raised the bar considerably.
Words volleyed more quickly than the chips and marshmallows. The escalating volume attracted the attention of nearby campers. We became ruthless as to what constituted an actual rhyme. No, "goose" does not rhyme with "tooth!" Yes sir, it had to be an exact rhyme. After countless word pairs, we finally retired, laughing, to our tents. Our heads hit the pillows and slumber overtook us (only to be disturbed by dreams filled with odd images of "cheap sheep" and "nice mice").
We continued to toss around word pairs for the rest of the weekend, until it was time for a final goodbye. With the new game tucked away in our memories, we parted ways. The game cropped up unannounced every now and then as time wore on, but for the most part it remained rather subdued.
Subdued that is, until last month . . . .