Back in a more innocent time, when the one-step-up-from-the-99-cent-store retailer Big Lots was known as Pic 'N' Save (oh the jokes we made!), my mother would always give each of her adult children a down-on-its-luck board game for Christmas. It combined so many of her favorite things: bargain finds, gifts for kids, board games, helping the downtrodden.
Usually, the games were sucky and overcomplicated, and the public had been right to reject them and send their ass to Pic 'N' Save. But every once in a while she'd find a gem. Hedbanz, in the early 1990s was the best find ever. I don't even remember which kid she gave it to. We were all winners.
The premise is the same as a million party games where you have to guess something everyone knows but you. It's basically Celebrity, or the game they played in the cellar tavern in Inglorious Basterds (though it only ends in blood and death some of the time).
The difference is the killer headgear. Who can resist it? A snappy red headband, a card with a zany drawing of Julius Caesar or Amelia Earhart on it, both worn by everyone wears them throughout the game, in a group exercise in indignity. I've played it a hundred times through the years, first with the official game board, then just using it as a party icebreaker. It works beautifully.
And I think we were the only ones in America playing it. But we were spreading its popularity. Friends after parties would go home and try to order it, only to find it unavailable. They had to buy EBay versions from Canada -- the one place where the game had apparently caught on. Gotta love the Canadians. They know all that's good.
Then earlier this year my mom found a new kids' version. Apparently the game had caught on enough to roll one out. It was similar, but had more things -- socks, bacon, -- than people on the cards. And the words were in English and French -- Canadians strike again!
Just last week, mom goes to order another edition, and tells me with excitement and a little bit of pride -- It's No. 2 on the Amazon list -- not for just games, but for all toys. ALL TOYS! I didn't believe it. Mothers and the Internet, you know. But no, she was right! It currently stands at No. 13 in all toys, No. 3 in board games. And should top everyone's Christmas lists. You won't regret it.
Will Hedbanz make your Christmas list?