the pictionary incident

The time is fall semester of junior year. Kevin is in Austria. Jessica, Tess and I are enjoying life in the hallowed HP apartments, with our own bedrooms, a nice kitchen, and free laundry right there in the hall. We hang out a lot with Zane and Jake in their apartment nearby. Zane is one of Tess’s high school friends and a stupendous actor – he’s in NYC right now auditioning for plays. Jake is a ginormous sports fan, primarily of the Ducks, and he also did some theatre with Zane and Tess.

One night we all decided to play Pictionary.

Well, okay, not all of us – none of us can remember exactly why Tess wasn’t there, partly because one can’t properly play Pictionary in college without imbibing a little (we were 21!) and partly because I have a terrible, heinous, lousy memory.  I have photos in my computer labeled “Pictionary Night,” but Tess is present and attempting to teach everyone sign language, which means there are multiple “Pictionary incidents” that could be shared.


The four of us were having a grand and uproarious time. Jessica and I are pretty much psychic when it comes to Pictionary, and we were kicking serious butt…until the word “pin” arrived.

Zane and Jake declared victory and showed off their doodle of…a pen.

“Guys,” I said, “that is not a pin.”

“Yes it is.”

“That is a PEN. The word was PIN.”

“It’s the same word!”

At this point I swelled up like a pufferfish – one who takes grammar very seriously – and rather lost control.

“It is not! Are you kidding me, it’s SPELLED DIFFERENTLY. It refers to COMPLETELY DIFFERENT OBJECTS.”

“PEN. PIN. It sounds the same!”

“No it doesn’t!”

“It does too! PEN PIN PEN PIN – ”


They wouldn’t back down.

They claimed that round.

I will never forgive them.


5 thoughts on “the pictionary incident

  1. I would just like to say that Jake and I are victims… that’s right, victims…

    Let me first point out that yes, a pin, and a pen, are different things. Just as a bier cannot be drunk like beer, a borough would find it hard to burrow through the sand, or a colonel would find it hard and unpleasant to be eaten like a kernel. So too would a pen have trouble pinning something to the wall, or a pin writing something on paper…

    Recently I spent a year living in a state known for horses, bourbon, and fried chicken. A state that values southern hospitality, even though it is technically not the true ‘south’. Yet, they share an interesting similarity with their southern neighbors, an intriguing southern twang. Yes, in Kentucky their dialect is what one would call southern. Interestingly enough I talked to my friend, from Kentucky, who had been subjected to the same form of bigotry of speech when she went to college… that’s right my friends, people took exception to the way she pronounced the words pen and pin. But don’t just believe my experiences, here are some thoughts of Brianna Conrey, linguistic scholar of rice university:

    The south and the north have had their differences in the past, most notably in the years 1861-1865. But these conflicts are a thing of the past, and we should not seek to subject our fellow countrymen and women to prejudices based upon their place of origin. We should instead celebrate these differences as aspects of our cultural identity as a country.

    I know you are now probably saying, but Zane, you’re from Washington state, a state that is as far from the south as one could be (excluding Alaska and Hawaii, but we are working in the bounds of the continental United States). To that I say this: are we not all American? That night we played Pictionary was there not a giant American flag hanging at our backs (as well as a pirate flag… but that’s just because we are all bad asses)? Is it not right to honor our fellow countrymen and women, by adding their cultural identity to our own? Is it not wrong to reject the innocent and well meaning intentions of friends who simply wanted to play a game with their country’s united future in their hearts?

    Remember what our great leader George W Bush once said, “America is a Nation with a mission – and that mission comes from our most basic beliefs. We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire. Our aim is a democratic peace – a peace founded upon the dignity and rights of every man and woman.” That is right my friends, dignity and rights of every man and woman, not just those who pronounce words ‘their’ correct way, but those who pronounce it the American way!


    p.s. I still think Jake and I won that game 🙂 Miss you all, you should come visit New York soon!

    • You’re right, Zane. It’s un-American of me to be upset over this. Clearly I am a Communist and will have to live out the rest of my life shamefully in Cuba.

      PS whatever, we totally won.

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