“Tell Me How You Want Me To Tell You” by Domenic Maltempi and Rachel J. Bennett

February 10, 2015


Tell Me How You Want Me to Tell You: The Board Game™
(On the box: A happy family [boy, girl, mom, dad, a ferret, a crook] sitting around a table. Two of them are trying on masks [under no circumstances the ferret]).

Q: What are the rules?
A: Just………..invent questions, invent answers, repeat.

Q: Is this a board game?
A: Let’s play.

One player asks a question, e.g., What are windows? Questions must lend themselves to adaptable interpretations by a variety of specialists, or points of view, or sort of.

We encourage everyone to fill out a brief questionnaire if they don’t know the other players—a getting-to-know-you exercise intended to make the game less daunting for those who might be daunted (e.g., babies, nationalists).

The player being asked the question—e.g., What are some good uses for batteries?— responds with, “Tell me how you want me to tell you.” (Phrase trademarked by the Phrase Mumps.)

Tell me
how you
want me
to tell you!™

(The game-crazed crowd may chant with slatternly glee.)

Q: Is this a logistical question?
A. There are no categories, just choose whatever you want, e.g.:

…like an anthropologist
…like a seal trainer
…like a motorcycle queen
…like the mayor
…like a sex worker
…like John Ashbery*
…like a candy maker
…like an alien
…like……….. (exactly 11 dots)

Q: Then what happens?
A: The player who asked the question compliments the responder (or is reminded of a new question by something the responder says) and continues the game by asking a new question.

Q: Does that make sense?
A: (lightning, cellos)

The second player will have to interrupt themselves to become the questioner. For instance: Player 1: What are windows? → Player 2: Tell me how you want me to tell you.™ → Player 1: Like an historian. → Player 2: Okay, well windows historically represented a way for humans to escape the weather but were very expensive, etc., and even though most everyone has windows now, there’s still status implicit/explicit in things like size, how you philosophize behind the curtains…

Enter timer.

Player 2 gets to speak until the sand filters through the glass or the kookaburra laughs or… and then, wherever Player 2 is in their talk, they switch gears to become the questioner. → Player 2: But all this talk of glass is making me think about shoes. What are some upcoming trends in shoes? → Player 1: Tell me how you want me to tell you.™ → Player 2: Like a chorus.

*If you’re playing Tell Me How You Want Me to Tell You™ with John Ashbery, he will always be John Ashbery. For instance: Player 1: Why does my cat like pillows so much? → John Ashbery: Tell me how you want me to tell you.™ → Player 1: Like a sailor. → John Ashbery: (proceeds as John Ashbery).


The Last Round:
The last round is what we call “Will I.” (We encourage you not to answer like a prognosticator.) This round is always started with the words “Will I…” (In your best Burbank voice): Snow and flexibility, it’s the “Will I” round! Players may now exchange a kiss, an article of clothing, a bad piece of advice, or a sweet pebble before asking/answering.

Q: Can you give an example?
A: Will I eat an artichoke tomorrow?

And now for some Tell Me How You Want Me to Tell You™ possible spin-offs: Tell me how you want me to feed you (for epicures). Tell me how you want me to hang up on you (for introverts). Tell me how you want me to read you a poem (for hunters).

…like a conductor
…like a servant
…like a mime
…like Rush Limbaugh**
…like parliament
…with brio

**If any player asks another to do anything like Rush Limbaugh, play immediately pauses while each player drinks a glass of water, hugs a stranger, and spins clockwise three times. Play resumes.

Q: When does the game end?
A: The game always ends.


dom typeDomenic Maltempi is a writer, musician, and performance artist based in New York who watches the world at http://maltempitown.tumblr.com/. His latest fiction is forthcoming in Spring 2015 through H_NGM_N.



rachel j bennett 2Rachel J. Bennett is a Brooklyn-based poet whose work has appeared in Big Lucks, inter|rupture, Salt Hill, Sixth Finch, Vinyl, and others. Her chapbook, On Rand McNally’s World, is forthcoming in Summer 2015 through dancing girl press. Come play: @rachtree11.

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