(Photo from here. Turns out they now make Aggravation in a modern verson. I like the old one better. I might be turning into a grumpy old person.)
Aggravation was one of the games I played with my grandparents when I was a kid. The rules are on the order of the game Trouble, but without the Pop-O-Matic bubble, and instead of lame old plastic pieces it uses real marbles. The opaque glass kind, that kind of look like candy or fruit, or at least they make you think of deliciously round red berries. Or maybe that's just me. Point being, even when one is not playing Aggravation, one could roll the marbles around in the trough created by the cardboard thingy inside the game box, or have marble races using the tilted gameboard, or swipe a few for one's regular marble collection, or any number of things for which one might want to use a colored marble or two.
I'm uncertain as to the details--meaning there may or may not have been thievery involved--but I now possess an old school Aggravation game; possibly the same one I used to play with my grandfolks. It has sat on the shelf for at least 10 years, surviving my increasing attempts at thinning and decluttering. Every time I'd come across it I would reason with myself that I hadn't played it in years, and that my kids probably wouldn't be interested in it (and I'm still in the stage where one or more of them want to eat the marbles for real)...but then I'd think about those colorful marbles, and the game would stay on the shelf, untouched and undiscarded.
Well. I got more aggressive than normal with the decluttering with this last move. We went thru everything, and got pretty ruthless about donating, so once again I was faced with this game. I looked inside the box and found that it was missing some marbles (I sighed knowingly--aren't we all missing a few marbles??). I looked around eBay for Replacement Aggravation Marbles and only found entire replacement games, which we really didn't need. So I changed my focus and looked into selling the parts we had, but there wasn't much of a market for Vintage Aggravation Game Boards. The Cat Daddy was all, "Come on, Skerrib, you're the one who wants to get rid of stuff. Just toss it in the recycle bin." And he was right...but I hemmed & hawed and let it linger.
So then a few weeks ago, the boys were honing their sweet skill of getting-into-stuff-when-mom-is-otherwise-occupied, and came upon this incomplete Aggravation game. We opened it up and began to play with it as best we could, and it turns out they loved it! The Littler One pretty much makes up his own rules as he goes along, but His Highness did a great job, even making adjustments on the fly as I checked the rules (it had been over 20 years, after all). "No Mom, you can't jump your own guy." "Ah, you're right, Son."
Then I had a minor epiphany (not like this one) and adjusted my search a little bit (ie: overhauled it completely), and came upon this website, which happened to have a category specifically for replacement board game marbles (not to mention most any marble you could possibly want), available in individual quantities. Kind of random, kind of nerdy, but mostly awesome. I ordered exactly what I needed, and for less than $7 my Aggravation game is now complete. The color and size aren't an exact match to the originals, but they are close enough that it more than does the job.
This is one of those little gifts that makes me happy. I love this memory of my childhood, and I love it that my kids get to enjoy it as well. I do think there's just something about marbles--being able to handle them, roll them around, and of course wish for shiny colored candy.
And now of course I'm really glad I hung onto the Aggravation...