Monday, November 19, 2007

Best Car Game Ever: In and Out

This game will keep you awake when it's two o'clock in the morning, and you've already been across four state lines, and another latte will make you vomit, and another mile will see you in the ditch, because you've been hitting those wake-up strips, and you can smell death. It is a good game that can last for 100 miles or maybe even all the way home. You do need a partner to play. A living partner who is also awake.

Here's how you do it.

The first person says a book title or song title or something... like:

Hard Day's Night

Then the next person takes one of those words and says another title with that word in it, like:

The Night We Never Met

Then the next person takes one of *those* words and says *another* title with that word in it, like:

I Met You

The next person says:

Crazy for You

Like that. Sounds easy, but it gets hard. There are certain titles that seem like a dead end, but there are of course really very few. If there's a way in, there's a way out. You may find yourself cycling past "Baby Love" by the Supremes or "One" by U2 a couple more times than you'd think.

There are three levels of play:

Level 1: Competitive. Limit your play to only movie titles, or only book titles, or only song titles, or some other tight category. Try to stick your opponent with a hard one, like "Layla" or something. Try to win by putting them in a spot they can't think their way out of. Another way to make it harder is to decide that you can't play out on the word you played in on. Like you can't follow "She Loves You" with "All you Need is Love" and then "Love Actually." You have to go to "All of Me" or "Need you Tonight" or whatever. A super-hard way to play is to go for two word titles, play in on the first word, play out on the second word.

Level 2: Casual. Song titles and movie titles and book titles and even tv shows. Still try to win, but don't be as vicious.

Level 3: Ridiculous. Song titles, movie titles, book titles, tv shows, idiomatic phrases, stuff you heard on the radio an hour ago, etc. The point of playing at this level is not to win, but to keep the volley going as long as possible. More collaborative than competitive.

The next time you're going from one end of the country to the other and you need a way to make the miles fly by, turn off the show tunes and try "In and Out."

This game was invented over a decade a go by me and Joshilyn Jackson while we were on a car trip from Chicago to Atlanta. I feel compelled to disclose that other games we invented on that trip included impersonating NPR nuns, and turning Madonna songs into FAQs.


  1. I have to tell my family this one because they will love it!

    We play a version that's a similar idea, but probably easier - it's based on first/last letters instead of words. We choose a category like movie titles, song title, bands, actors, (whatever) and someone names one of those things and then the other player (or team) has to come up with one that starts with the same letter that the last one ended with.

    So if I started with When Harry Met SallY you might say YentL, then I might say Love ActuallY, then you might call me a bitch for sticking you with another Y and then say Young GunS. It's fun! :-)

    BTW, my anti-spam word is "lyela." Isn't that "Layla" with an Aussie accent??

  2. Wow, Yentl and Love Actually could form kind of an awful, eternal loop. Fasciminational.

  3. Similar to Deb, we used the last letter and then named a character in a film. I also remember doing it with classical composers and biblical characters (lots of names ending in H).

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