Saturday, February 19, 2005

You can't play cards without the Joker

Tonight is my grandparents' card party, which they hold every year to celebrate their anniversary (which was actually last Saturday. Happy 17th!) They invite all their friends and family for an evening of eating, drinking, and progressive euchre. There are prizes for the top three scores, the lowest score, and the most euchres. My dad has, in back-to-back years, won all three. Door prizes are also given out, and then we have dinner, usually around midnight.

This is the first year in a few years that I'm missing it. Us kids weren't always allowed to go - it's only since I was finishing up my undergrad that my sisters and I started showing up. Partly because it's a raucous time, partly because they didn't want to invite my sisters without inviting me. They wanted to make sure I understood the game before they'd let me come to the card parties.

See, I'm terrible with the rules games. From the time I was in elementary school ("Okay, so if the bottle is pointing at me, do I kiss the person next to me or across from me?") until I went away to grad school ("Okay, so if I've 'never never' done something do I drink, or do I drink if I have?") it's always taken several very patient people to explain the most elementary guidelines of any game. Sports, I can pick it up quickly. Show me how to do something on the computer or with knitting needles, and I get it. Card games? Not so much.

It started when my sister Denise got really bored one afternoon when we were about 9 and 10. Denise already knew how to play the game, and wanted to play with someone. Both my parents were busy, and Rachelle was too young, so that left me. Except I didn't know how to play, so she was going to have to teach me how.

Now, Denise is really good at teaching people how to do things. I present a unique challenge to her abilities both because I'm her sister and I don't catch on to the rules of card games very quickly. The lesson quickly dissolved to the point where both my parents had to come and separate us, so it was decided that now was not a good time to teach me.

(Another funny story about Denise and I playing games: when we were little and playing hide-and-seek, my dad could hide me in the best spots in the house and Denise would still find me right away because I couldn't stop giggling. My dad put Denise on the kitchen counter with a cereal box in front of her, and I'd walk by her fifty times before my mother pointed her out to me.)

Eventually, I did learn how to play, but it was years before people stopped asking, "Are you following suit? If you have trump, play it." Or, "Why did you play the bower on that queen? You should have used your king and saved the bower." I'm not a bad player now, but I still have the tendency to go alone with not much in my hand, or to pass when I could order someone up.

Also not attending - my dad. He had a tooth pulled, and is home watching "Gladiator" and like me, is cursing Gary Bettman and the NHL.