The Game’s Afoot

All my life I’ve been a terrible card player. Once the games got more challenging than ‘Go Fish’ I lost the ability to win. When I worked at HBM&S as a student, I faced daily humiliation at the game of Durroc. (made up game…who knows the correct spelling?) Is it a math thing, or a confidence problem? I’m not sure. Maybe both.

A few winters ago, my friend Gaye held a dinner party at her house. The wine flowed, the conversation was delightful. Much to my dismay, after dessert the cards came out. And the game of Ramole proceeded to kick my ass. We were betting with quarters and it wasn’t very long before I was deeply in debt to every person there. I’m blaming it on the wine, but really I’m just bad at cards.

Even Monopoly was a challenge. I had a romantic view of the game, so tended to play with my heart instead of being practical. And the money made me anxious so I’d hold onto my cash instead of buying up houses as they came onto the market. When I met my husband and we played with friends, he’d throw money around like a bigshot. We had to watch him like a hawk, because he wasn’t above stuffing extra cash under his side of the board. We never let him be the banker, but he usually won anyway.

A few years ago, some friends invited us to join a bridge club. My friend Nayda plays, and she’d told me some things about the game. My biggest problem, besides the challenge of learning, is the silence rule. Apparently, people don’t speak while playing. I can just see myself holding my cards and longing to ask for advice or talk about books or the latest Netflix show. Or talk about anything, really.

I excel at easy kid’s games, like snakes and ladders, or Clue. I can beat an eight year old at checkers, but after that all bets are off. I have no strategy or game plan, ever. I like to fly by the seat of my pants. And I don’t like to feel like I’m at school, about to fail a math test. Which is how card games occasionally make me feel. But I just read a Walrus article about how we’re all supposed to continually try new things. Especially things that scare us. It’s good for the brain, and an important part of creating new neural pathways.

I’m all about making healthy choices. I want to be the kind of person who meets a challenge head on, so when my daughter and I went to a karaoke session at the Calgary writer’s conference, I got up and sang. It was bad, and I waited until the last moment. I sang Ruby, by Kenny Rogers and people clapped with looks of deep pity on their faces when I was done. But still. I did it. And while I’m not going to jump from a high cliff or an airplane, I guess I’m willing to drink and play card games when the occasion arises. Just don’t make me play bridge.

Published by Judith Pettersen

Judith Pettersen is an author living in Canada. She blogs about her life in the north and the ups and downs of being a writer.

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