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The Time I Played Taboo In College

I lived in an aging dorm my freshman year of college. It was twelve stories tall, and I lived on the 11th floor, which had a large balcony that was closed off forever since some unfortunate student had flung himself over the edge a decade before. But a service door had been accidentally left open, so we would regularly go up to the roof, which had no barriers whatsoever, and was nothing but a slick sheet of ice come winter. I almost slid off that roof a handful of times, but always managed to stop myself just inches before tumbling off the side of the building.

Anyway, there was a girl on my floor who I’ll call “Rebecca.” Rebecca was something of an odd duck. A recent transfer from another school, she was actually in her sophomore year, and wore fluorescent track pants every single day. She was a nice girl, though I was unnerved to discover that she watched Silence of the Lambs each night before going to bed. She said the movie soothed her, and she liked falling asleep to the sounds of Hannibal Lecter whispering, “Clariiiiice…”

I enjoyed making her uncomfortable by refusing to leave the communal bathroom whenever she had to poop. She couldn’t stand to go when there was anyone else in there, so I’d just sit there and try and wait her out. This resulted in her suffering from regular constipation.

I’m kind of an asshole.

Anyway, since I went to the opposite of a party school, a rousing evening in our dorm would involve the board game Taboo. If you’ve never played, it’s a word guessing game played between two teams. According to Wikipedia, “The object of the game is for a player to have his/her partner(s) guess the word on his/her card without using the word itself or five additional words listed on the card.” So if you had the word “Santa Claus” on your card, you’d have to get your team to guess the word without using words like “reindeer,” “presents,” “Christmas,” “sled,” etc.

But whenever Rebecca played this game with us, the night would take a turn for the depressing. No matter what the word, her description of it would always hearken back to the Holocaust. Her explanation of “Santa Claus” would probably go something like, “This mythical figure is a symbol of a holiday that the Jews killed during the Holocaust never celebrated.”

The word “Volkswagen” would be, “A vehicle made by the Nazis during the Holocaust.” “Oven” might be, “The Jews were cooked in these.” The lighthearted game would always instantly turn incredibly dark and uncomfortable. And yet we pressed on, not wanting to ban Rebecca from our floor activities, but terribly depressed all the same.

She later yelled at me for driving a Volkswagen Beetle, noting that it had been built on the shoulders of Jewish slaves. Because of the game of Taboo and Rebecca, I now saw reflections of the Holocaust in all manner of everyday objects. This is apparently how she lived her entire life, shrouded in a tragedy a generation and ocean away. Perhaps this is why she found solace in Silence of the Lambs? Maybe to her, it seemed positively upbeat compared to Schindler’s List.

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  1. dashielblades
    February 23, 2012 at 12:34 am

    The word “Volkswagen” would be, “A vehicle made by the Nazis during the Holocaust.” “Oven” might be, “The Jews were cooked in these.”

    genius.

    D

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