I have a terrible feeling that the game “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral” is an endangered species. Granted, my evidence is strictly anecdotal—several kids I know had never heard of it—but this is nonetheless a cause for serious concern.
It’s not that I was ever so great at the game; on car trips, my heart always sank when anyone identified the category as “mineral” because my knowledge was so scant. And let’s face it, as guessing-games go, it’s a bit of a dud: with none of the urgency of Twenty Questions and none of the glamour of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, poor old Linnaeus can feel like a bore.
But I don’t think the game is in trouble just because it’s slow. The contemporary material world is complicated. Last night, I put myself to sleep going through the various objects in my bedroom and attempting to classify them. It did not go well; several times I had to cheat by looking up the component parts of my humidifier (mineral), the shell of generic ibuprofen (animal) and the filling of my knockoff Tempur-Pedic pillow (surprisingly, vegetal). Short of a degree in inorganic chemistry—or a bylaw prohibiting the inclusion of anything invented after, say, 1950—the game is nearly impossible. “Mineral ascendant,” I scrawled in my notebook. Read More