Game #1 ~ SOL #3 ~ 2020

“Are you ready yet, hon?” my husband has asked me for the third time.

I have promised him that tonight I would play our first game of Cribbage. I don’t know how to play Cribbage, so my loving partner of 31 years has so kindly offered to teach me.

“Not yet!” I holler from the living room, “I still have one chapter left to read in my book!” Reading requires brain power. I’m thinking that when I’ve mustered up all of my thinking for the day, we can play games.

He walks over to me and pleads, “Now?” like a little boy wanting to open his Christmas presents.

“Oh. . . kay. . . . “ I sigh.

He brings over the Cribbage board with cards and places them on the large ottoman in front of my chair. He gets comfortable in the adjacent couch.  I take deep breaths and set my books aside.

“Now, here are the procedures,” he begins. “We each cut the deck, low card deals. The dealer passes out six cards each and we need to discard two we don’t want. Those cards go in the kitty. The dealer gets the kitty.”

He continues with more procedures. Then, how you get points, “You want to try and get cards that equal 15 because they are worth 2 points, runs are worth 3, unless it’s a double run – they are worth 8 because 3 and 3 and then you add 2 for the pair.”

And, then he gives directions on how to peg for points. More procedures. And new words: pegging, double runs, fifteen-two, fifteen-four, flush, nobs, a Go, thirty-one for two. . .

“Are you ready?” he finally asks.

I am a little girl sitting in math class asked by the teacher to count backwards by 7’s from the number 3574. Tears stood in my eyes. There was a tightness in my chest. My hands rise to my cheeks because they are burning.

“I don’t know what the —- you are talking about,” I calmly tell him.

He pauses, smiles tenderly and says softly, “We’ll play for a few days with open hands, so I can help you,” recognizing my pain. “Don’t worry, hon, you’ll get it.”

I almost say no, I can’t do this. But, I need him to walk me back from the end of the plank. I signed my name on the back of that board. Relationship building. . . I kept whispering to myself.

I win the first game, with open hands. He praises me for my resilience.

Exhausted, I shuffle off to bed.

In the night, gazing out the window at the moon, residue from our game lace my thoughts . . . dread that I was going to have to do this again tomorrow.

Worse yet . . .

I had visions of the hundreds of students I’ve had in my classrooms over the last 30 years and I ached with remorse for all of times I probably put them through this.

I just lay there, whispering, “I’m sorry.”

And, the last line of Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Day” came to me like a prayer. . .

“I have miles to go before I sleep.”

Cribbage: A Relationship Builder? SOL #2~2020

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?

I’m participating in twowritingteachers March 2020 Slice of Life Challenge of writing a blog post every day for the month of March. 🙂 To read the posts of other Slicers, please go here.