A Last Resort Turned First Choice

My friend in high school played cards nearly every day. His family played cards after dinner or at odd times when the chores were finished. His friends played cards on weekends, gathering in dusty, mysterious basements. I turned down every invitation to play cards with him except one, and that was because we were trapped together on a plane on our way to debate camp in Michigan.

I had no choice.

I hardly ever played cards, and when I did, it was War or Go Fish with my sister as a last resort on rainy days on the military base in Ft. Lewis.

Apparently, in an alternate universe, a whole world of Rummy, Spades, Gin, Anaconda, Blackjack, Poker, Egyptian War, Euchre, Hearts, Sequence, and Slapjack existed around joyous dinner tables everywhere. No matter how hard I tried to join in with the trend, I could only picture the low swinging light fixtures, dangling cigarettes, and hushed conversations. Card playing seemed creepy and underground, the behavior of misfits or else grandmothers in Bridge Clubs. It seemed profoundly boring, and like I said, a last resort for folks who had nothing better to do.

My friend actually kept a deck of cards on his personal being at all times. This is how important it was. This is how much card playing was part of his life.

This summer, card playing became part of my life–not as a last resort–but as a first choice with my daughters, their cousins, uncles, and grandparents. True, we were stuck together in a lake house, so it could have felt like a last resort on rainy days.  I woke up and made a plan for our card playing after dinner. I had to schedule it because I loved it so much. We’d play for over an hour before we all went to sleep.

During the day, my nieces and nephews would coax me over to the table to play whatever card game they chose for the afternoon.

So I bought a deck of cards. I have it right here. I’ve played a version of Rummy (Shanghai Rummy, the best game ever. Rules here) twice with my children already today. I’ve invited others to play, too. I’m actually thinking of keeping a deck of cards in my purse.

I’ve become my friend, and I’m so glad.

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