Posted tagged ‘hi-low jack’

“Cards are war, in disguise of a sport.”

October 5, 2015

Mondays are my late day as I go to my neighbor’s at ten and stay a couple of hours. She is from Brazil and thinks her English needs help so we chat. Through our conversations, I get the chance to explain and correct as best I can what she says wrong. Lately it has been subject-verb agreement though I never use those words. She is stuck on he have. She tells me English isn’t easy, and I totally agree.

No weather report today. Just look at yesterday’s and the day before that and on and on. I swear I saw a patch of blue sky but I may have been hallucinating.

I sometimes thought my dad was really born in another country and English was his second language. He had no idea how to spell words. He wrote them the way the way they sounded to him. I had the challenge of translating into English and typing what he wrote for the company newsletter. It took me the longest time to decipher some of the words. I’d read the sentence aloud over and over trying to figure out the word through context. Usually I was wrong. My dad couldn’t understand why I’d miss such easy words. I didn’t bother to explain.

We were a game playing family. Every Christmas we got new games. When we were young, we played board games. When we were older, we played card games. I remember so many nights sitting around the kitchen table playing cards. Cribbage was always my father’s game, and we played every time I visited and every time we traveled together. When it a bunch of us, we played all sorts of card games. Uno was our game for a while. My Dad never remembered to say uno when putting down his second to the last card so he always ended up having to pick up another card. That frustrated him, and he always used the appropriate swear to accompany his mental lapses. We laughed at him. He was never grateful. Finally, after two or three times of forgetting, he took a match book, put it in the middle of the table and said that was his uno. He didn’t have to say it any more. We handed him back his match book without a single word.

We played Jeopardy with clickers so the first person to click got to answer. My dad ignored the clicks. He’d answer whether he clicked or not. We sort of gave up on Jeopardy.

We played hundreds of games of Hi-Low-Jack mostly on Friday nights. One of my uncles was usually there. The bar was set up on the counter, and the kitchen was filled with smoke. Whoever sat out a hand was forced to be the bartender. Those nights were the best. We laughed all night long. We all made fun of my Dad, the perfect target. He bid high and often, and it was a pleasure to take a trick away from him with the jack of trumps. We all did it with a flourish just to antagonize him. If I had three wishes, one of them would be to have one more Friday night at my parents’ house with all of us there playing hi-low-Jack. I’d even volunteer to be the bartender.

“Life is more fun if you play games.”

February 10, 2015

Winter has been kinder to us than we expected. We didn’t the amount of snow the rest of the state did. Saturday it rained all night and yesterday it sleeted. Even now we are a tick above freezing. The roads, though, are still horrible. The ruts are difficult to navigate and going around corners is dangerous because of the sliding and the blocked views of on-coming cars. I can’t even remember the last time I saw sun. I think one glimpse of that light would be enough to bolster my spirit.

Last night was game night, and it was so much fun. We had great eats: cheeseburger sliders, chips and fruit and brownies for dessert. We played Phase 10, Sorry and Uno, a game we haven’t played in years. I had such a fistful of cards at one point I could have used an extra hand. There were so many cards I couldn’t even fan them. I didn’t win. I did win a game of Sorry.

My parents were game people so we grew up playing games. For that I am grateful. I was the only kid who actually knew what to do with dominoes besides setting them up to fall one after the other in a spectacular display. I was taught whist at an early age because my parents were grooming my brother and me to be their partners. It was always girls versus boys, and we usually won. My mother was a patient partner who never yelled even if I made a mistake. My father, on the hand, was a passionate player who did yell. I was glad he wasn’t my partner. I never liked Monopoly. It was boring and seemed to last forever. Parcheesi was fun until someone set up a blockade.

When I was older, we played card games all the time. My dad and I would play cribbage until he won, we’d all play skat and untold games of high-low jack, our favorite. Friday nights at my parents’ house were always get-together nights. My uncle would usually come and stay all night. We’d sit at the kitchen table playing cards. At some point in the evening the singing would start. I remember the phone ringing at my house on a few Fridays in the wee hours. I knew exactly who it was. When I picked up the phone, my uncle began to sing. He always called me Leeny when he was in his cups. I enjoyed those phone calls despite the hour.

I love that my friends are all game players.