Beer Pong

Beer Pong (Scott Strazzante / Chicago Tribune / September 13, 2012)

Summer is in full swing -- hell, it's almost over -- and as friends gather at lake houses and rooftop bars, it's officially time to roll out the games! Board games, card games, drinking games -- they're not just for the spirit of competition. Group games are the perfect ways to witness personalities magnified. See if you recognize any of these recurring characters:

The Misanthrope: She's already downed a bottle of some Skinny Girl concoction by the time she shows up to the party and declares she's "just gonna watch." No one's asking her to engage in a menage a trois. It's a game. She expresses her groan louder than necessary at the suggestion of Scene It?, hoping to find an ally in her quest to change everyone's mind. Somebody call her a cab.

The Peacemaker: This broad just wants to "read the questions" for Trivial Pursuit and not keep score. I understand the point of enlightening myself for enlightenment's sake. That's why I went to college. It's not why I'm at Mahoney's on a Sunday afternoon doing Fireball shots. I don't care if you want to play beer pong or Utter Nonsense or if you just want to see who can bang their heads on the table the most times without knocking themselves out -- scores will be kept, and there will be a winner.

The Coach: This person is the responsible ringleader of the group. He keeps score and manages every questionable situation with a diplomatic and respectful tone -- "New Jersey and New York are not the same state, Susan" -- while encouraging and keeping everyone's interest. A natural leader, The Coach's aim is to keep everyone happy -- though even his influence can't help The Misanthrope.

Dead Man on Campus: This guy is intense. He wants to make sure everyone knows the rules and insists on doing a practice round, because if someone messes up Apples to Apples he's gonna rip off his shirt and throw a puppy off the balcony. It's like you're playing with The Wolf of Wall Street -- the stakes and the pressure are way too high, to the point that everyone is slightly uncomfortable. The chances of him breaking a chandelier are only slightly less than the indubitableness of him punching his partner -- who happens to be you. Forfeit.

Birdbrain: This player needs to be told, "It's your turn!" every time it's her turn. Every. Single. Time. She gets lost in her phone or in her horribly annoying conversation with The Misanthrope about how they "can't wait till this is over so we can do something fun." Birdbrain's not trying to be rude. She has never won a game in her life. In fact, Birdbrain struggles with all aspects of life.

The Know-It-All: The week leading up to game night has been filled with mass emails from this big talker about how he's the "best ever at Catchphrase." On the big night, he'll (dis)prove this by not being able to guess correctly even one time, giving the worst possible clues and declaring he's having an "off night."

The Taunter: Trivia question is read aloud. This is what ensues: "Ugh this is so easy ... You know this. ... *Impatient eye roll* ... Seriously? You're joking, right? ... Take, like, 30 more seconds, I know you know this. ... Robert! We were just talking today about this today when we were hanging out! I can't believe you don't know this!"

Robert will hear about this moment for the next 40 years of friendship.

Game on!

Katie Killacky Toomey is a RedEye special contributor.