Whenever grandchildren visit, we always find time to play a couple of games of Clue. It's one of the few timeless games that we adults, who grew up with a black and white Dumont or Emerson TV in the living room, can enjoyably share with contemporary masters of smartphones loaded with apps.
In concept, the game hasn't changed since it was purchased by Parker Brothers from its British creator in the 1940s: who killed Mr. Boddy, in which room, with what weapon? It's all a matter of logic, elimination and luck.
New techniques on the Internet virtually ensure winning, but they bog down the game so much that only a couple of our visitors use them. Most of us are happy to roll the dice, cruise around the board or slip through secret passages, voice our suspicions, and jot down clues on our detective notepad.
The best thing about two or three generations sitting around a table playing a board game that was invented more than 60 years ago is meeting on common ground. Ground that is simple and focuses on the people at the table in the present moment as we all concentrate on finding the logical solution to the mystery before us.
The last time we played with a fourteen-year-old grandson, he added a whole new dimension to the game by making a compelling case for how the color of the characters represented their true identities.
The stodgy Mr. Green was the epitome of envy and jealousy. Mrs. White represented simplicity and purity, enhanced by an adeptness with carving knieves. Mrs. Peacock reeked of royalty and wealth, a member of the rich upper-crust of society. Colonel Mustard, of course, was stuffy steadfast authority at its finest. The winsome Miss Scarlet was lust, pure and simple. And he claimed that Professor Plum was not only the brooding intellectual, but might also be the one gay member of the cast.
He pressed on by drawing parallels to the various sins in Dante's "Inferno" the first part of his epic poem The Divine Comedy. That was a bit much, and he lost us completely when he started in on the Nine Circles of Hell.
Do any of you still play Clue?