Pretend parlors and parlor games.

I’ve always been partial to the color combo on this bedspread-currently-being-used-as-a-couch-cover in our parlor. I’ve also always been partial to ladies who use the word “parlor” in all seriousness because I know that deep down inside, they have a secretly fun soul.

A parlor is defined by Google as a noun denoting:

  • A sitting room in a private house
  • A room in a public building for receiving guests- the mayor’s parlor
  • A room in a monastery or convent that is set aside for conversation
  • A shop or business providing specified goods or services- an ice-cream parlor- a funeral parlor
  • A room or building equipped for milking cows

Though the latter would be thrilling, our tiny house has one large room which extends into the dining room where much talking takes place. In French, the word parler means “to talk” or “to converse”. So I call this main room the parlor. Because we talk and converse more than we “dine” or “den”.

A parlor game is a game suitable for playing in a parlor, hence an indoor game. What better way to explore the Victorian era than through the games which entertained and amused them? If your schedule isn’t already occupied with football games and barbeque, try a parlor game this weekend in your pretend parlor. Hat tip to Victoria’s Past for the games.

The Ball of Wool

The party are seated round a table, from which the cloth must be drawn. A little wool is rolled up into the form of a ball, and placed in the middle of the table. The company then commence to blow upon it, each one trying to drive it away from his own direction, and the object of all being to blow it off; so that the person by whose right side it falls may pay a forfeit. The longer the ball is kept on the table by the opposing puffs of the surrounding party, the more amusing the game becomes, as the distended cheeks and zealous exertions of the players afford mirth to lookers-on as well as to themselves.

The Messenger

The party are seated in line, or round the sides of the room, and some one previously appointed enters with the message, “My master sends me to you, madam,” or “sir,” as the case may be, directed to any individual he may select at his option. ” What for?” is the natural inquiry. “To do as I do;” and with this the messenger commences to perform some antic, which the lady or gentleman must imitate – say he wags his head from side to side, or taps with one foot incessantly on the floor. The person whose duty it is to obey commands his neighbor to the right or to the left to “Do as I do,” also and so on until the whole company are in motion, when the messenger leaves the room, re-entering it with fresh injunctions. While the messenger is in the room he must see his master’s will obeyed, and no one must stop from the movement without suffering a forfeit. The messenger should be some one ingenious in making the antics ludicrous, and yet kept within moderate bounds, and the game will not fail to produce shouts of laughter.

Among the other tricks which may be commended are such as rocking the body to and fro, wiping the eyes with a pocket-handkerchief yawning, whistling, stroking the chin or the beard, and making any grimace.

Magic Music

In this game a player is seated at the piano, and one of the others leaves the room, while the company decides what the last-mentioned is to do on his return. When called in, he is given a hint, but only a hint, of what he is expected to do. We will suppose that he is told that he is to “make an offering to a certain lady.” He is left to himself as to what the offering may be, but [-128-] he must guess the lady to whom it is to be offered, and offer to each in succession until he discovers the individual selected. The musical part of the performance is this: When he re-enters the room, the person at the piano commences to play some piece, with a moderate degree of vigour. As the guesser approaches the right lady, or the right thing to be done, whatever its nature, the music becomes louder or quicker; but if he appears to be going farther and farther from his appointed task, the music becomes softer and softer, until it is scarcely heard. This gives him a clue as to whether he is on the right scent, or otherwise. If there is no piano in the room, the “magic music” may be of another character, It may consist in the tinkling or clashing together of any articles that wil1 emit either a harmonious or a discordant sound, according to the degree of hilarity or boisterousness to which the age and other circumstances of the company dispose them. But, played with a little tact, the game in any of its forms will be found amusing. We have had occasion to mention forfeits; and as those form an important element in many in-door games, we shall have something to say about them in our next paper, in which we hope, at the same time, to introduce to the notice of our younger readers several novel amusements, which in the long evenings they may find especially acceptable.