“We Don’t Play Like That!!” (but some of us do. . . . )

Posted by on Feb 9, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

“We don’t play like that in my family,” Kelly exclaimed in the midst of a late night card game with me, my parents and my grandmother, affectionately called Mama.


Late night card games sitting around the kitchen table at Mama’s lake house.  Moonlight  cascaded over the calm, quiet waters and seemed a stark contrast to the card games inside.  Not only had the grandkids played games for years, but almost every boyfriend or girlfriend had been initiated to the process as well.  It was tradition.

Mama didn’t miss a beat, “Don’t play like what?”

“We aren’t allowed to gang up on people during games,” Kelly responded.  Mama smiled.  Welcome to the family.

If she had known better, that might have been a sign for my dear wife to think twice before entering the family.  But now there’s no turning back.

Killer Solitaire.  No, this wasn’t a precursor to the Hunger Games, just our families official name for playing solitaire with two or more people.  So why the word ‘killer’?  Our version typically involves at least three, if not four or more people seated on the floor.  Once the word “GO!” blurts out, hands slap cards into the center and only the swift will survive (or win).

I perfected my killer solitaire skills playing solo and then battling my mother.  When the two-player battles drew close to a draw, we officially called in fresh meat. . . . uh, competition.

“What a second. . . why do you want me to play?” my sister Bryn asked.

“We want you to play.  It’ll be fun.  You, me and Mom.”  I quickly responded.

“I’m not just here to lose?”  Rats, she had seen through our ploy.

“No B.  We wouldn’t do that.”  Way to go Mom.  Convincing my sister she was able-bodied competition instead of new fodder was the right tactic.  That typically sealed the deal and the three of us would go on to play a few games, usually with my sister losing quite soundly.

My personal card playing skill has not always been as sharp or well displayed.  At most family gatherings with aunts, uncles and cousins there would usually be the story, “Do you remember when Jeremy threw those cards all the way across the table?”  In case you didn’t know, losing was not something I particularly enjoyed.

Even during my late twenties, my competitive nature came on full display to the children of our good friends in Texas.  I proudly taught a nine and seven year old how to play solitaire.  After that initial lesson, I then went on to promptly beat them. . . many times.  Now I have a 23 and 21 year old that will smile and say, “Do you remember when you beat up on two little kids in solitaire?”  Seems I may not have changed as much as I had thought.

Hearts.  No, not the kind that beats in your body but a card game that scores like golf and has the goal of not obtaining any cards from the suit of hearts.   Only one catch – you also never want to get stuck with the queen of spades.  Each card with a heart is worth one point while the queen of spades gives you 13 points.  You can now see why getting rid of the queen has great importance.

“She’s beating the bushes for the bumpy-black-broad!!”  That phrase can be heard many times as a family member tries to draw out the high value card and give some unlucky soul 13 points.wpid177-2014-06-28-20.32.24-3.jpg

Playing Hearts and “beating the bushes” was merely another card playing introduction for my wife.  And because she is the women I love, I chose (or was persuaded) to share some very important strategy tips regarding the game.  Unfortunately, that may have backfired.

“Can’t you see what she’s doing?  Stop her!”  I blurt out at a couple unsuspecting friends who believed we were merely playing Hearts for fun.  However, I clearly saw my own strategy tip being used against me and realized my dear wife was about to clean everyone’s clock in this “friendly” game of hearts.

At the end of the round, I was still a tad bit perturbed at the perceived lack of wise card playing from our friends when one of them made the polite suggestion, “why don’t we play a different game.”

Playing cards has been a family tradition and one that has always involved a lively interaction with others.  Unfortunately, my competitive spirit has left an indelible mark on several of those people and even created an embargo on playing certain games.

Living Three Layers Deep, our family still loves to play card games.  I have mellowed. . . . some.    But the “sins of the father” have apparently been visited on this generation of boys as many (if not all) hate to lose and will often display the same spirit of their father.  We won’t stop playing cards but will take every opportunity to teach the younger generation that winning isn’t everything and how you play really does matter.

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