My family loved to play Spoons

spoons (free clip art)
spoons (free clip art)

When I was a kid growing up, my family loved to play a card game that we called “Jackass.” Eventually I learned that the “proper” name of the game is “Spoons” and when I teach it to people nowadays, that is what I call it (in polite company, of course!) But in my heart I will always think of the game as “Jackass.”

These are the instructions of how to play the game:

The object of the game is to see who LOSES several hands.

Before the game is started, it must be determined what word will be spelled out, and if there is any “penalty” for losing. (Like maybe singing a song or doing a little dance or something like that.)

deck of cards (free clip art)
deck of cards (free clip art)

Use a standard deck of cards, and 1 less spoon than there are players. (4 players = 3 spoons)

For each player, use all four cards of same face value in different suits. (4 players = 4 Aces, 4 kings, 4 queens, 4 jacks) All other cards are put aside.

Place all spoons in center of table.

Dealer shuffles cards, and deals out equal number of cards to all players, so that each player has 4 cards.

When everyone has looked at their cards the dealer calls “pass.” Each player passes one card to the player to the right, and then picks up the card from the left. The dealer calls “pass” again, and repeats until one person grabs a spoon (signaling that he/she has 4 of a kind.)

Each player is trying to get 4 of a kind; when a player gets 4 of a kind then that player grabs a spoon. (It can either be slyly or with much ruckus.) The remaining players also all try to grab a spoon, but one player will be left “spoonless” thus losing the hand.

family playing spoons (free clip art)
family playing spoons (free clip art)

The one who loses a hand gets a letter written under his/her name on the scorecard. When one person has the entire word spelled out, the game is over; you have a “loser.”

Following is an example of a scorecard, assuming that Dad has lost the game:

spoons-scorechart1
spoons-scorechart1

The only thing is that when I keep “score” I don’t bother to put the “round 1, etc” numbers off to the side; that’s just an extra detail I put in hoping it would help to make it clearer. The “real” scorecard would look more like this:

spoons-scorechart2
spoons-scorechart2

And of course, you can use a different word. When we played it as kids we used the word “Jackass.” The standard penalty for losing the game of “Jackass” was “The jackass run” – the loser had to crawl rapidly around the house braying and kicking up their heels and making “ears” with their hands and wiggle them around and saying “I’m a jackass, hee-haw, hee-haw” or we’d make the loser perform the “jackass call” – they had to use the telephone and call someone they knew and say “I’m a jackass hee-haw, hee-haw.”

Donkey kicking (free clip art)
Donkey kicking (free clip art)

We had the option to dream up different penalties but those were the two penalties used the most. Boy, if only we had cell phones with video cameras back then! With that in mind, before you play the game it’s a good idea to agree BEFORE the game what the “penalty” for losing is! Now that we are all “grown-up” we don’t bother with penalties….but maybe we should revisit that thought the next time we have a big family gathering here and decide to play some games!

One time the whole family was playing “Jackass”, and my oldest brother lost. He was eighteen years old and had a REAL girlfriend (as in REAL dates and hugs and kisses and all of that yucky stuff that teenagers do on REAL dates) at the time. The family decided that the penalty for losing the game at that point in time was that he had to call his girlfriend (right then and there) and when she answered the phone he had to say “I’m a jackass hee-haw, hee-haw” and then hang up without saying anything else! Boy the entire family laughed so hard when he good-naturedly actually DID make the phone call! But to be honest I really can’t say that I remember him ever playing Jackass with us again!

telephone call (free clip art)
telephone call (free clip art)

Another time I had accepted a blind date from a match made by my best girlfriend. When he arrived at the front door to pick me up my father answered the door and invited him to come inside. My father introduced himself, shook hands, and then told him that the family was getting ready to play a game of “jackass” and would he like to play? I exclaimed “oh no, don’t say yes!” but my date smiled and replied “Sure.” Of course my date lost. And even though I tried to intervene on his behalf, he did, in fact, do the “Jackass run.” He was very good-natured about it, laughing and laughing, and we did end up dating for several months afterwards.