No Strings Attached

String Games by Richard Darsie

Super String Games by Camilla Gryski

Many Stars & More String Games by Camilla Gryski

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I am one of those people who loves to relax at night by watching TV and movies but still needs to keep their hands or brains constantly engaged to feel productive and ward off the guilt and restlessness that otherwise accompanies a four-hour Netflix session. Unfortunately, I also have a very small attention span, budget, and low tolerance for messiness, so crafty activities that take a lot of time, patience, or supplies usually aren’t my thing.

One awesome activity that I’ve discovered can be learned with little to no brain disruption toward understanding the plot of Mad Men or being furious with the judges on Project Runway is string games. The Orem Library has a great selection of books on string games, some of which are surprisingly informative and thick and can be found in the adult nonfiction next to intimidating topics like car repair and making floral arrangements. However, I started out with the children’s books because they have more pictures, fewer words, and easier games with abbreviated stories and descriptive fairytale titles like “The Ghost Dance” (Many Stars, p. 32) and “The Leashing of Lochiel’s Dogs” (Many Stars, p. 30).

It doesn’t take long to discover the delights of string games are many. I’ll list just a few:

1. You can do them anywhere. Long line at the grocery store or bank? Waiting at the airport? Waiting for your Internet connection to come back so you can finally finish LOST? Your trusty string is a pocket away.

2. All you need is a string and the ability to memorize. And once you do a game a few times, the muscle memory really kicks in. I’ve learned “Jacob’s Ladder” (String Games, p. 17) so well I can do it without a string! (Note: The reader should note that stringless string games are still a long way from catching on and have been known to result in derision, confusion, and concern expressed about why the subject is twitching and fidgeting with their hands so much.)

3. Doing string games with your significant other is a super easy, cheap, quick, and surprisingly hilarious date. Many are the times I have impressed my husband with very simple games like “A String Trick” (Many Stars, p. 14) or “Cutting Off the Fingers” (String Games, p. 76). And there are many more string games that actually require two people, so, you know, you can share the blame when your hands somehow become inseparably and forever entangled.

4. You are the sudden envy of all your nieces and nephews at boring family gatherings. It’s like being a magician who not only tells stories but acts them out too.

5. Two words: Talent show. Minimum preparation. Maximum impressiveness and uniqueness.

In conclusion, I’ll share one of the easiest tricks, called, ever so aptly, “A String Trick” (Many Stars, p. 14). It’s a very simple trick that takes about five seconds to master. Grab some string/shoelaces/thread/yarn/dental floss and follow along.

1. Put the string loop around your neck, just below your ears and level with your mouth.

2. Cross the strings over each other and, where they cross, bite them with your teeth. Be sure to cross your arms as you cross the strings; don’t change hands as you cross them over. Don’t let go of the strings.

3. Now uncross the strings by uncrossing your arms but keep your lips shut so you hide the uncrossed strings.

4. Put the long string loop right over your head. Your hands are still holding the ends of this loop.

5. Clap your hands (and the strings) together.

6. Release the strings in your mouth and stretch out your arms to show that the string loop is now at the back of your neck. Ta-da!

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