It had nothing to do with bonfires. Years and years ago, I used to play the game with my youngest sister, Urban Sophisticate, who in those days was Small and Grubby and Not Sophisticated at All. I think she was trying to say blindfold and kept saying the word bonfire instead. And we continued to call it the bonfire game long after she had stopped mixing up words.
The game is simple. You find someone else who wants to play and you both put on blindfolds. And then you walk around the house. You'd be amazed at how much fun it is to do something like go through the refrigerator and guess what all those strange objects are when you can't see anything. This afternoon, With-a-Why and I put on blindfolds and spent a couple of hours, stumbling about the house, talking constantly to each other so we wouldn't lose each other.
One realization I had when playing the game: if I were really blind, we would have to keep the house a whole lot neater. The furniture wasn't a problem because I sort of knew where it was, but I kept stumbling over books, backpacks, and shoes, which seemed to have been scattered all over in a completely random fashion. If I were blind, I would never visit someone like me: it would be too dangerous.
Since we were both blindfolded, we kept trying to help each other out. "Watch out. Someone moved the rocking chair. And the piano bench -- OW!" Bruised shins are part of the game. As With-a-Why grew more confident about his ability to move, he'd go quiet for long stretches. "Where are you?" I'd ask and then listen for his breathing. Then he'd grab my ankles and I'd scream. The more times he did it, the less funny I found it, but it seemed to have the opposite effect on him.
One difficult part about being blindfolded in our house is that we have so many cats lying about in unexpected places. I was coming down the stairs confidently, with my hand on the rail, when I heard a sudden hissing just below me. With-a-Why had stepped right on a cat who had decided to take a nap on the stairs. Sometimes we'd play the game of trying to identify which cat we were touching. "Not fat enough to be Emmy. Too big to be Salem. She hasn't scratched us yet, so it's not Gretel." We came to a surprising discovery: Rogue and Rachel, two cats who look nothing alike because they are different colors, felt so much alike that we couldn't tell them apart until Rogue reached out a paw to take a swipe at With-a-Why.
When we reached the piano, I could hear With-a-Why fumbling over the keys. "I have to find middle C," he kept saying. At first, it sounded like he was just hitting random notes. But then once he figured out which key was middle C, he began playing — and the music sounded no different than normal. That seemed surprising to me: I would have thought that he needed to see the keys.
By the time Boy in Black and Shaggy Hair Boy came in from the backyard, where they were practicing Ultimate Frisbee moves, we were done with the game. We'd taken off the blindfolds and were both on the comfy couch, reading books. "Hey, what were you doing in here?" Shaggy Hair Boy asked. "I looked through the sliding glass doors, and all I could see was With-a-Why walking with his hands out in front of him. Like some kind of zombie."
With-a-Why trying to figure out which cat he's touching. I was wearing a blindfold when I took this photo although I cropped it with my eyes open.