Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Recently on Dartblog, Isaiah Berg mentioned that Dartmouth fraternities/sororities were playing the drinking game, “Tails” (see here). That rocked me back on my heels … as over 50 years ago at Sigma Nu we played a drinking game “Wales Tails” (in order to speed up the inebriation process.) May I assume that the current game is one and the same? To test this theory of tradition persistence I thought I would describe the game we played and see if it is equivalent to what fraternities and sororities are playing today.
The premise of this game was that the Prince of Wales had lost his cut-away tuxedo (his tails) and was trying to find it by accusing others at the table (usually from 4 to 7 others) of taking it. There was a pitcher or two of beer at the table and everyone had a plastic cup that was to be constantly filled with same. One person would be chosen as Prince (usually a senior) and he would begin by saying, “The Prince and [the number of players at the table, not counting the Prince].”
Then, “The Prince of Wales has lost his tails … Wales … tails … [a number] sir!” The number given would be the person being accused and it was the seat number of a person at the table counting counterclockwise from the Prince. This person was to immediately respond, “Nay sir, [and then the number of another person at the table … or ‘Prince’] sir.” This person accused was to respond in kind and this new person would offer up another culprit’s number (or “Prince”), until someone screwed up in answering at which point the loser had to take a slug of beer.
Now this seems simple enough, but there were a number of nuances that went along with this game:
1) The Prince could declare a “tightening round” whereby the loser would have to chug-a-lug his beer instead of just taking a gulp.
2) The Prince could declare a “rotating Prince” whereby the person accused automatically became the Prince and all numbers changed in kind dynamically counterclockwise around the table. This could get quite complicated really fast and pity the poor player who did not have all his faculties due to over imbibing.
3) The person accused could call his own number (or “Prince” if things were rotating) and then respond with a denial and an accusation of another player … or even himself again, etc.
4) The person accused could call another number but simultaneously turn to stare at another player who was not that number. This was called an “elementary head fake.”
This game would often go on until the wee hours of the morning … or the keg tapped out.