25 April 2011

"Poor Pussy" and other Victorian games

A whole range of 19th century games, in fact, consisted of trying not to laugh. For example, "Poor Pussy" involved one proper Victorian guest having to crawl on all fours amongst the seated company, meowing piteously, and crouching in front of someone who had to respond, "Poor Pussy!" with an absolutely straight face. If either Pussy or the speaker so much as smiled, the latter became the new pussy. If both maintained their composure, Poor Pussy was Poor Pussy indeed, condemned to crawl toward another human in hopes of being relieved of his task...

"Hot Boiled Beans" was another game in which one guest was sent out and an object hidden. When he returned, the guests shouted, "Hot boiled beans and bacon for supper." Guided by other players saying this meal was becoming cold, hot, even perhaps burned (if he was very near it), he searched for the article. In "Hunt the Thimble," a small item was hidden in plain view while all guests were out of the room. Upon returning, each guests was to sit down silently as soon as she spotted the item. The last person left searching had to pay a forfeit...

Forfeits... included having to answer yes or no to three questions without knowing what questions had been selected, or standing on a chair and posing however the company demanded. For single guests, forfeits might include having to kiss another member of the opposite sex, or having a male and a female player be blindfolded and then dance together.
Many more listed at Make a Living With Kay.

4 comments:

  1. My family played "Poor Pussy" in the 1970s, pretty much exactly as described here!

    -Chip

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  2. The 'poor pussy' was also played during my childhood (80s in Germany), the name and the phrase the non-pussies had to say however was 'armer, schwarzer Kater' - 'poor, black Tomcat'.

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  3. I come from a long line of sedate, farm family types (though with a strong streak of humor thrown in to save us from being completely boring). I remember playing versions of these games and many more growing up in the 60's and 70's and having a great time.

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  4. My Wife's Family played a version of "Hot boiled beans and bacon for supper." the hidden object game they called it "hocka bocka beanstalk time" where one person hides an object and the others search for it with the hot cold indicaters being given from the the one that did the hiding.

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