Saturday night, Bill and I went over to Dave and Jll’s house to spend time with them. Dagny and Maggie Faith were not there; they are off with their Aunt Julie at a dude ranch in the mountains of Colorado. It is my firm belief that when Maggie Faith mounts a horse, the horse is quite unaware that someone is on its back because she is such a peanut.
Anyway, Addie invited me to play Hearts with her. I admitted that I hadn’t played Hearts for quite a long time. In fact, as I thought about it, the last time I played Hearts was when I was in high school, some 45 years ago. Back in those days, my friends and I were quite satisfied to spend an evening at someone’s house playing Hearts or Pitch rather than doing something much more illegal and/or dangerous. In other words…..
Let me assure you that unlike riding a bike, playing Hearts doesn’t easily come back to you. Or at least it didn’t to me. Dave and Jll joined Addie and me at the game, and I came in dead last. A-for-effort and all that jazz. And Addie didn’t have to be quite that amused by my loss! Remember the good ol’ days when she was still nice to me…..
They are a family of game players. Mine was not. I have a vague recollection of Mom teaching me to play gin rummy, a game that I actually do still remember how to play. At some point, I knew how to play cribbage, because I remember playing cribbage games with my dad. That game required me to be able to do math my head, something problematic for me. Nevertheless, my brother has promised to refresh my memory on that particular game very soon. I hope he doesn’t mind if I count on my fingers.
Monopoly? No. Life? Not a chance. Scrabble? You’ve got to be kidding me. We never even owned a game of Candyland.
Back in the 70s when I was still married to my first husband, he taught me to play backgammon. We didn’t play often, but I did learn the game. Decades later, when Bill and I took our big European adventure trip, we brought along playing cards and a backgammon board. Bill had never played backgammon, and I could scarcely remember how to play. Still, we read up on the rules and sat down one night in Italy and played backgammon. I decidedly defeated my husband, and I was never able to get him to play again. He claims it wasn’t because I beat him so handily, but I am suspicious. Bill’s love for games is even smaller than mine, so the fact that we played a lot of games of gin rummy and kings-in-the-corner while on our trip indicates just how desperate we were for entertainment in a world in which we couldn’t understand a word on the television.
When I attended the University of Nebraska, I was a member of a sorority. I moved into the sorority house during my sophomore year. I remember that nearly any time of the day and often late into the night, there were women sitting in the beautiful living room of the sorority house playing Bridge. They looked so accomplished and elegant and grown up what with the bidding and the partners and all. And they didn’t even have to slap their hands on any cards like I did during a recent game of Slap Jack with Dagny and Addie. But I never learned to play.
A game I kind of wish I could learn to play is Pinochle. Having said that my family wasn’t one to play games, I must admit there was one exception. I remember my dad and my grandfather and my uncles and sometimes even my mom and my aunts sitting at Grammie’s big dining room table and playing Pinochle. I know nearly nothing about the game, except that you have partners and it requires a specific deck of cards, called – shockingly – a pinochle deck. And while I’m not entirely sure I’m right about this, I think it requires that the players drink beer as they play the game. It doesn’t say that in the rules, but I don’t remember any games played without beer, so I’m pretty sure I’m right.
Bill and I don’t play well together. We tried playing Trivial Pursuit a very long time ago. We were at my brother’s house, and for some reason, we thought it would be fun to play girls against boys, thereby pitting me against Bill. Everytime I would pick a card bearing a trivia question, Bill would say, “Geez, that’s sooooooo easy.” I, of course, wouldn’t know the answer, and felt completely stupid. Even after all these years, I remember one of the questions for which I couldn’t come up with the answer: Who was the president of France during the first part of the Cold War? The answer, of course, was Charles de Gaulle, and I knew this. I promise I did. But for the life of me, I couldn’t come up with his name. All the while, Bill was saying, “That’s soooooo easy.” I’ll tell you what that was. The end of the game.
Last night I played cards again with Addie and her mom and dad. Neither she nor I won the games, and Addie and I both wallowed in our card-playing shame.
Until next time….
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