Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Card Games

I came across my two oldest kids playing Go Fish at the dining room table on Sunday, and found myself, a regressed 9 year old, thinking "geez, what a BABY game!"

"Hey why don't you play a REAL card game?" I taunted, almost hearing my voice go from adult to adolescent.

"What game SHOULD we play?" Aly said with intrigue

Without even remembering how to play, I reflexively said "Spit!"

Spit is like a two player, highly competitive version of solitaire. Luckily, the extension of my brain, Google, was able to refresh my memory as to the finer points of the game. One of the recommendations on the page said to play with an 'old' deck of cards, because if not, your new deck will be destroyed before either person won 5 games. The first round started slow, but by the third round, it was like they were born to the game.

The yelling and slapping cards flashed me back to the 'good ole days' of our family of 7 kids and the truly cutthroat nature of all our games, especially the card games. Spit, War, Crazy Eights, Canasta: I remembered many names but not necessarily how to play. Then my subconscious twitched a bit as I had vague memories of pieces of other games: A game where you passed cards rapidly to the player on your right and picked up from your left; when you had 4 or a kind, you stuck out your tongue; last person not wagging their tongue was out (or something bad happened). 'Something bad happened' triggered more repressed card-memories: "Hey wanna play 52 card pickup, Billy?" "Sure! Hey, what the? MOOOOM! He threw all the cards and ran away!". Deeper I went to a dark corner of my memory where we played 'Knuckles'; I forgot the exact game but... PLEASE... don't let it be a 10 of Spades! (dark cards got hit hard on the knuckles; red cards, lightly).

Being the last of 7 kids, in an competitive environment rivaling Chinese gymnastic camps, I didn't stand a chance at games of skill or quick thinking. I was the last in line to be the recipient of finely honed skills, played and replayed jokes and vicarious revenge on the older siblings heaped on me. Even as a parent, my wife still had to remind me not to instill the 'value of learning to lose' too much. "Let Aly win sometimes" she'd plea. But alas, I have passed on the genetics of competition and we have to remind the older ones not to use their powers to crush and destroy the youngers.

I was looking for some deeper meaning in all this, but now that I've finished, I've found none. But it seems that whoever I talk with about card games, they somehow get that same visceral response, especially those in families where they were near the bottom of the age bracket 'seed'. Their eyes dialate, their fingers twitch and they're ready to do pre-adolescent battle once again.

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