Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cribbage, Baby!

If anyone notices Seth looking dazed and unhappy lately, it’s a direct result of a well-deserved come-uppance he has recently endured. 

I know. You’re all shaking your heads, muttering, “That man needs no comeuppance…he is a saint…after all, he lives with that crazy “Susan Says…”  

Allow me to explain........

Despite the fact that I am terrible at games, I have enjoyed playing cards with Seth over the years. A chronic “kibitzer”, I miss points, forget rules and am easily distracted by butterflies and such while he possesses strategic abilities light years beyond my scope. 

Factor in serious issues with basic mathematics and while he wins, I lose. I’m used to it. My kids were better at Go Fish and my mother used to beat me at Old Maid. Even Uno was a struggle. The numbers and colors were tricky and I would often shout Uno for no reason other than the simple joy of shouting.

This all suited (Get it? Card pun!) Seth perfectly since the modest and thoughtful man you meet at the supermarket just happens to be a relentless maniac when playing a game. 

As he is winning, he will crow and exult, leap up to pirouette or do the chicken dance, wag a finger in my face, perform joyful slapstick and call me names like “Loser Pants.”  All that niceness you see comes at the price of this behavior. I have learned to live with it.

Our long-standing game of choice had been Gin Rummy. As cocoa in the kitchen tuned to cold beer on the deck, we’d assume our roles of loser and winner and all was well.  But Seth got greedy. Deciding that Gin was too simple for a mind as clever as his, he became fixated on teaching me Cribbage, a far more complicated card game with a wooden board and pegs for scoring. 

“You’ll love Cribbage, “Susan Says...,” he’d say with a gleam in his eye. What he meant was “I will win every game, you blog writing loser.”

I finally agreed to learn Cribbage. It has lots of rule: suits, flushes, runs, adding anticipating, eliminating and deducing as well as things with funny names like "nobs" and "muggins." I longed for the comfort of a pleasant hand of gin.

I was very intimidated as Seth explained the fundamentals and my general apprehension caused a scene or two as I needed demonstrations repeated over the course of several days. I even visited Youtube for help. 

Seth assured me that I would soon understand the strategy and rhythm of this new game, barely containing himself as he envisioned endless wins. He preened in anticipation while I resigned myself to the glum certainty of loss.

He was generous at first. As I attempted to master the game, Seth mastered the inflections of dripping condescension. He chortled kindly as I screwed up--correcting me sweetly, tossing me an extra point or two but, all the while, basking in the certainty that he would soon be steamrolling his way to victory as I fumbled, my cards spilling this way and that as Buzzy watched sympathetically from his Zappo’s box.

Well, it just so happens that the scales of karma were just back from the shop. Their springs and cogs had been lubricated by a little thing called irony because suddenly I was not only understanding the game, but amazingly,  I was winning

A lot. 

And guess what!! It appears that winning is a lot more fun than losing!! 

Who knew?

Despite my husband’s half-hearted claims that he is “proud of me” and that it's “nice to have a worthy opponent,“ I watched his dreams of conquest turn to hollow congratulations and, eventually, sullen glaring as I racked up the wins. It reached a head on Father’s Day when he suddenly needed a morning nap, stomping off to the couch with his little blankie and itty bitty pillow. 

It was then that I momentarily considered throwing a game or two. The key word there is “momentarily.” I like winning.

He has hopefully suggested that my new found status as a card shark is only a fluke. He may very well be right but, until then, watch out world---I’m a winner!!!

Not a winner.

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