Grandma the trickster has a good set of hearts to play out. Got to clear that board of chips. The hunt. The game is double-decked, so someone could lay down before her. Stalking, she looks to her right. Distraction needed. The ferret excuses herself to go to the bathroom, claiming she is nauseated. While in there she applies white compact makeup to her face to make her seem pale. She fakes vomiting. On her return the impostor receives sympathy from the rats and rabbits of the group. The kill. The matriarch clears the board, all for five cent chips.
Nat King Cole and Bing carol to us while Virginia Slims and screwdrivers, party mix, and eggnog are consumed. Grandpa’s job, pour the eggnog. Bitter, pungent, buttermilk for one instead. The Patriarch, merriment exuberates while he boils over with boisterous laughter.
My three Uncles: the oldest and the one obsessed with proper dealing etiquette. The baby always re-telling the same dirty joke, something about a garden hoe and a sister. The middle brother needing to be adored by his parents is merely meddlesome. He says, “You deal to the right, or no, is it the left? Do you want me to do it? I can stack ‘em for you!”
“Call the bar!” The oldest says.
“Got to get it right man, the whole game hinges on how it’s dealt. Is it skill we are talking about, or chance and luck?” “Luck is lost on you, brother. Plus you’re stupid. When you puked on that new fringe leather jacket and were worried about mom finding out I told you to go wash it in the tub and hang it out to dry outside. Mom will never know. Now you got a shrunk, puke-scented, leather coat that is frozen!”
“Call the damn bar!”
I am staring in awe at the big present under the tree as Grandpa says, “Do you want to know what the big present is sweet pea?”
Yes! I do, I do! Tell me Grandpa, tell me, pleeeeaase!”
“It’s a four-set-a-rine-a-rama-say.”
“Yes, it is! Isn’t that exciting?”
“What’s a four-set-a-say Grandpa?
From the Tripoly table a voice, “Swede! Rummy! Now! Poker’s over, Grandma won. Get over here.”
Plastic table cloth lay out, adorned and drawn in all its royalty in hearts. Ace of hearts drawn twice, King, Queen, Jack, Ten all of hearts. A Poker Pot, a kitty. A double-deck of cards dealt out. A fist slams down.
“You did NOT play that ace! Tell me, you did NOT play that!”
My oldest son’s partner scoops up the chips from both pots and states, “I did. I did, I did.” My son pulls out his ace of hearts and shoves it in his face. The guy on the right always has all the luck. After the ace attack my son recovers and wins. Four-fifty. That would be four dollars and fifty cents. He is a bad winner. My mom’s laughter increases as she tells tales of Tripoly games gone by. My father, blank. After all it was her family game not his.
My game now, and as of today thirty-two names are written like graffiti on the plastic cloth. Ex-husband’s name not included. All the names are marked permanent. Some announcing their paltry monetary wins, some claim loser. Some come back to play it again and again. My eleven year old daughter is now the ferret. Wits! Around the table an actor talks while playing.
“In the 70’s I sat in the back of the plane with my Grandmother. She was a smoker. I was elected to sit with her because I am not allergic to smoke. My sister is. Grandma would chain smoke on the airplane, and drink her bottles of vodka. A tiny bottle for each cigarette you see. She loved flying! Did they think the smoke would just miraculously stay back there? Yep, just stick to the seat.”
“Lay down already!” As we all laugh and the actor carries on with his monologue.
“Last time I flew a storm came in. I sit. I sit. For seven hours I sit in that damn plane. Pretty soon I feel needles poking me in the ass. That little pillow is a rock! The movie in front of me is some cheesy Sandra Bullock thing. All I want, and could kill for, is a smoking seat!”
A twenty-one year old doe-eyed-angelic girl, saved from drugs and gangs in Florida says, “Yo, Gangsta, PLAY!”
Bing and Cole are gone. ACDC and Lady Gaga are here. Coffee in, screwdrivers out and the American Spirits are our ruse. We smoke out on the deck while we plot. The young red-bearded drifter (whom a couple of us picked up at a park) played with us once and our doe enamored of him calls him a “G”. A serene math tutor, an Adonis of a grad student, a businessman who runs Partnership Heath Center, among others, many others sit around the game. A reverent, shy, kind hearted construction worker who seems to be like Jesus personified has his teeth bared and is merciless when the game is being played. Even he is hostile to the ruffian who sits on the right.
@2013 Leisa Greene
Category: Indie It Blog