I’ve never liked playing cards. When I was young, my father would urge us kids to play cards, trying to convince us that learning how to play cards was a non-negotiable skill that all human beings should be adept at. I’m not sure if my four siblings recall this same experience, although, I think they probably played cards and liked it. Perhaps I was the black sheep of card playing. I’ll have to ask them.
My husband is a card player. He taught our four children how to play cards when they were very young. I resisted joining in, letting this be his territory. I stuck to Candyland. Now, our children are all adults and when at family gatherings, the night often ends with a game of Hearts and cocktails. There is laughter, joking, lots of snacks, shouting and cheering in these card matches. I sit on the sidelines, taking notes, or I sneak off to bed.
In our mid-fifties, my husband and I are now empty nesters. The winter evenings are long.
“You should learn how to play Cribbage, hon,” my husband urges me one late winter afternoon, as we were both reading by the fireplace. “I’ll teach you. It would be fun for us to play Cribbage games in the evening.”
“But, I don’t like cards,” I reminded him. “I just don’t.”
“But, Cribbage isn’t a card game, it’s a relationship builder,” he tries to convince me. “Please, it will be fun.”
I felt a wee bit sorry for him for several reasons. First, because he has to adapt to a wife who does not play games. Competitiveness was a gene that I was missing. Second, because he has no one else to play with. Except Ella. But, she only likes dog games.
After much banter, I sighed and said, “Okay.”
He jumped up from his chair in triumph. “We’ll have to go to Fleet and buy a new Cribbage board,” he says, “I know just the one.”
“Don’t we already have a Cribbage board?” I asked.
“Oh, this one is going to be special. We need one to commemorate the beginning of this new journey in our relationship.”
“How much is it going to cost?” I asked.
“It’s 40.00, but I have a 20.00 coupon. C’mon, let’s go.”
Off we drove to Fleet Farm to pick out a Cribbage board. Already, I was regretting my decision. This felt like too much of a commitment. What if I seriously did not like this game? Then there will be a new unused Cribbage board to remind me that I quit. What will it do to the relationship if he feels so strongly about it being a relationship builder?
We brought it home, chose a location in the house for it to hang (alongside the fireplace), wrote the date on the back with a permanent black marker and signed our names. It felt big. . . like we got married again.
“Tomorrow we’ll play game number one,” he announced.
For the love of Pete. What have I done?