Thursday, December 31, 2009


No, it's not the ingredient in a cocktail, not even if I were serving Scott Hartnell or Martin Brodeur. Nor is it the name of a drink. However, it occurs to me that Penguins fans need something to cheer us up, and the Winter Classic might just be rain-delayed tomorrow, and we'll be putting up with the idiocy of NBC announcers regardless of the weather. As a lifelong NASCAR fan, I know how to cope with both rain delays and irritating announcers. This is one of the ways I do it. (Won't be trying it tomorrow, though--it's our wedding anniversary! NBC will provide lots of other opportunities to play later this season.)

Cyanide is a verbal game that my wife and I learned from A., who is a NYC cab driver. He learned it from a group of tipsy partyers in the back of his cab one night a few years ago, and shared it with us. We do not know its original name. I named it "Cyanide" because the poison plays a large role in it. It can be adapted for a number of things. We got through Election 2008 by playing a political version of it, for example. (Cyanide got picked a *lot*.) We've played it during movies. We play it during any boring parts in NASCAR races. Obviously it is not to be played around children or in an arena, and the NHL version will probably not be played by straight men or lesbians.

Questions are asked of the group in this format: Would you have sex with Person A, have sex with Person B, or take the cyanide pill that you keep handy for such an occasion? These are your *only* choices.

Example: "Jay McKee, Bill Guerin, or cyanide?"

The rules of Cyanide are simple and finite:

1. You don't have to stick to celebrities or public figures, but it's very helpful for avoiding hurt feelings in the group.
2. Keep it to pairings of people in somewhat similar positions or who have something in common. For instance, "Eric Staal or Jordan Staal" works because they're brothers, and "John Tortorella or Dan Bylsma" works because both are coaches, but "Eric Staal or Dan Bylsma" is too random.
3. When using dead people, act as if they are still alive and in their prime.
4. "Both" is not an answer.
5. "None of the above" is not an answer.
5a. When the "Crosby or Ovechkin" pairing comes up--and don't kid yourself, it will--anyone who answers "Malkin" may be punched in the shoulder or otherwise punished.
6. You may not hypothetically force-feed one of the people suggested your hypothetical cyanide pill, no matter how bad you hate them.
7. Defending your choice is not only permitted, it's encouraged. But if you feel like holding out on the group, you don't actually have to defend your choice.

Believe me, you will learn lots of interesting new things about your friends playing this.

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