Board game reviews, news and commentary.
The Board Game That Saved Father's Day
The Silver Lining
Updated: Sunday, Jun 15, 2014
Hello, Chaz Marler from the Pair Of Dice Paradise board game podcast here, welcoming you to another episode in our The Silver Lining series, which often takes a look at things behind the scenes here. Today’s segment may be off topic, perhaps even self-indulgent.But, in honor of Father’s Day, I’m going to do something a little different, and share a story with you.

Today is Father’s Day, and for the last seven years, I’ve been eligible to celebrate it. Better yet, my daughter, VeeBug is now at the age where I’m starting to be able to introduce her to more complex board games, and it’s been great.

But, this isn’t a story about my daughter, but about my father, and the impact that board games have had on our relationship.

My mom and dad got divorced when I was in kindergarten. Being that young, I honestly have only a handful of memories of my dad from before the divorce. And throughout grade school and middle school, I’d only see him on the major holidays, and perhaps a day or two during summer vacation. When I was in high school, every now and then he’d call me in the evenings during one of his breaks at work.

Those phone conversations were the most agonizing exercises in father-son time I can imagine. Every single call followed the same pattern. A minute of nervous small talk, followed by a minute of awkward silence, as we both struggled to figure out what in the world to say to each other next.

Often, those evening calls would be a welcome interruption while I was doing homework. Now, my dad is pretty good at math. In fact, I believe he was an accountant at one time. And, if I’d just happen to be doing something mathy, I’d hear his voice perk up. One night, I was fighting my way through geometry, trying to memorize the formula for calculating the area of a circle, which, for those of you playing along at home, is "pi times radius squared". My dad knew this formula and rattled it off from memory. He even gave me a mnemonic phrase to remember it:

"Pie are square? No! Pie are round!"

It worked. Thanks to that little phrase, I still remember the formula for finding the area of a circle, and I know that I will continue to for the rest of my life. But more important than the memory trick was the fact that, thanks to the subject I was studying, we were able to have a conversation that lacked the usual awkward pauses.

In the years since high school, as I’ve grown older, the awkward pauses in our conversations have lessened, but I still often find myself grasping for what to say next in order to continue propelling our conversations forward. And what’s more, now I’m a father myself, which has allowed me to see things from the parent’s perspective. Things that never occurred to me as a kid. For instance, if something were to cause the relationship that I have with my daughter to become as disconnected as the one I have with my dad… well, let’s just say that now I can finally understand how every one of those phone calls must have been absolutely heartbreaking for him. He must have been hoping that I'd just say anything, anything to let him know that his son loves him as much as he loves his son. Well, I hope that message made its way back to him through all the awkward pauses... but I know I did a horrible job at it.

My dad called me a couple weeks ago. We made small talk about the usual things. Then he mentioned this Pair Of Dice Paradise podcast, and how much he enjoyed seeing his granddaughter’s cameos in it. We talked a little bit about some of the silly things that her and I have done on the show. Then he told me about a gaming group that he’d been getting together with recently, most often to play a card game called Wizard. He talked about how it plays, his strategies, and he shared some stories about things that have happened during some of their gaming sessions.

After the call was over, I started to go about my business again, when suddenly I realized that the conversation was one of the most mutually engaging ones we’d had since high school geometry.

So, of all the gifts that the board gaming hobby has given to me: time spent with old and new friends, an activity to share with my daughter, this podcast and the people I’ve met through it... the most special gift may very be having discovered another topic that I can share with my dad.

So, yeah, I’m painfully aware that I don’t get in touch as often as I should. But every Father’s Day, I do think about you and how special you are to me. This year, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity that this podcast has given me, and say: Happy Father’s day. Love ya dad.
Share this article:

Help support Season 3!