Though most of us have far more politically correct terms for Chinese Whispers. Ostensibly named for the historical fact that the garbled chatter of the Chinese with their various tonal dialects confused the hell out of the largely European explorers back in the seafaring age.
Of course the game gets blown out of proportion when the players aren't informed of the rules.
Waitaminute, aren't we here for a funeral?
Bored silly at home - and recovering from a cataract surgery that has curtailed her obsessive reading habits, my grandmother has taken to calling up her numerous relatives according to an alphabetical list. Unfortunately she calls home at ill-timed moments only to have my maid Dorota answer. Ever heard a sing-song Chinawoman speak to a Javanese maid? Chicken and duck talk, I swear.
Grandma : Hello!
Dorota : Siapa?
Grandma : Where is everyone? How inconvenient to have everyone out! I shall have to try their offices next.
Dorota : Father go out to get cut. Cut. Cut.
Grandma : Good gracious!
Unsurprisingly a brief conversation. Yet from the lil bit of information gleaned, my grandmother immediately leapt to the erroneous conclusion that my father had somehow undergone an operation. Note the emphasis on the word cut. So she sent out an emergency distress signal. Hence I was suddenly deluged with thousands of messages from my uncles, aunts and cousins regarding the doubtful state of my father's health.
With technology so advanced these days - and my octogenarian granny a budding technophile, even my brother far away in the Middle East received the smoke signals.
By the time I read the news, it had been so blown out of proportion that I half imagined my father lying ashen on his deathbed awaiting our return. Which irritated me somewhat since he ( or my mother ) should do me the courtesy of at least informing me before abruptly shuffling off this mortal coil.
Irrational, I know.
Paul : Good God. Answer the damned phone already. Are you dead? Should I go dryclean my black suit?
Dad : Why would I be dead?
Paul : Aren't you being cut up? Everyone assumes that you're hooked up to drips for emergency surgery.
Dad : Wow.
Paul : Go call grandma. She must be burning paper money for the wake by now.
Back in reality my obviously hale and hearty dad - totally oblivious to the fact that everyone in the family had gone crazy ballistic - had actually gone out for a haircut.
Without his cellphone.
Now you know why they call them Chinese Whispers.