One of the things I love most about the holidays is spending time with my siblings, their kids, and our parents. We play games and reminisce on our childhood because, apparently, our current state of affairs are not nearly so hilarious. The Kids (Chris’ two and Noelle’s two) listen to us talk; by this point, they can recite the stories for us. Their favorite walk down memory lane is about our favorite childhood game. “We want to play Sucker-Upper!” they’ll cry, as we, the grown-ups, argue over some technicality in that long-ago pastime.
There are four of us (Bedot, Noelle, Chris and I) and I’m the oldest, making me the ring leader. I am pretty sure I came up with most of this game though no one remembers why it started or what the original goal had been. Mom forbade us playing it, but it was super fun and we disobeyed her command at every opportunity. Oh, you’ve never heard of Sucker-Upper? That’s probably because we made it up.
Instructions For Playing Sucker-Upper
- One long staircase, preferably a walled-in stairwell leading to a basement.
- Pitch-black darkness (you may need towels to plug any light coming from under doors or around windows)
- Stupid children
One kid is the Sucker-Upper, the monster that sucks-up children. (We may have gotten that idea from watching the cats freak out over the vacuum cleaner.)
All the other kids are victims
The Sucker-Upper lurks at the bottom of the stairs and can only come three stairs up but is allowed to reach beyond that. If the Sucker-Upper grabs a kid and can get that kid to touch the bottom landing, that kid has to go to “jail” (in our case, it was the bathroom around the corner) and they have to stay in there in the dark because everything has to stay pitch black. They can have a flashlight or night light but that’s it.
It then becomes the mission of the leftover children to rescue the kids from jail but to do so, they have to sneak past the Sucker-Upper and make it down the hallway and into the jail without getting caught. And they have to do this in darkness. Silently.
This game only works when some of the children sacrifice the slowest child to the Sucker-Upper so that there’s an objective. That’s where the argument on how this all started in the first place begins: what was the original goal? Noelle says the it was to get to Mom & Dad’s bed and the kid who did that got to be the next Sucker-Upper which was supposedly a coveted position probably because I was always the Sucker-Upper and told them that it was a coveted position. But some of us think there may have been a different goal originally. I was actually probably trying to kill my siblings, or something.
Chris was great at this game. He’d spider crawl over me, bracing himself via his hands and feet on the walls of the stairwell. And he was smart – he’d usually be on a mission to rescue Bedot who almost always got caught (sacrificed) within the first minute and he’d have Noelle create a distraction so I couldn’t hear him as he leapt from above me to the carpet behind me then snuck down the hallway. Of course, he ran the risk of Noelle freaking out at the top of the stairs because she was alone in the dark with the Sucker-Upper waiting to get her, but about half the time, his plan worked. The other half of the time, I’d catch him and drag his squirmy little body down the last three stairs to plant him firmly on the landing, often getting kicked in the face for my monsterly efforts.
This is usually where Mom chimes in, stating she was worried we’d get hurt dragging each other down a bunch of stairs in the darkness. Obviously, she was a paranoid parent; we all survived and look! The next generation is dying to play this game. If any of us still had darkened stairwells, it would happen. Sorry, kids. Blame Grammie and Poppa; they’re the ones who moved to a split-level with no scary stairs.