Thursday, January 24, 2013

The 6 of Diamonds

It all started quite innocently, a great day at the beach, a fabulous lunch at Sea Spray, and Meryl's delicious tacos on the boat. Then, sitting around the saloon table nursing a drink, someone mentions a game of cards. But we need to regress a little before going forward. Over a period of about 20 years we have enjoyed an annual camping trip in the Washington Cascade Mountains with our friends Patsy and Steve Larson and Scott and Georgia McRae. Patsy was the one who introduced us to an innocent card game called "Screw Your Buddy" (there are other derivations of the name). If you knew Patsy, you would be shocked she would even say the word "screw" in mixed company. The game starts innocently enough with four cards being dealt to each player, with a card turned over from the deck to start play. The goal is to rid yourself of all cards by laying down a card matching the suit or number of the exposed card during your turn.

Sounds simple enough. You see a 10 of Hearts and you either lay down a Heart or a 10. If you are like me and fancy yourself a good card player, you feel you can easily master this simple little game -- I mean it's not exactly Contract Bridge. There are a few little quirks to the game that make it interesting. If someone before you plays a 2 or a 4, you have to pick up 2 or 4 cards. This usually happens when you are only one card from winning the game. Can be very frustrating.

Since Patsy is the keeper of the rules and we play the game infrequently, she receives occasional emails from me to refresh myself of the protocols. It seems with each email I receive, there is "one more rule I forgot to mention" which completely changes the outcome of the game. Such it was last year when we learned if someone puts down a 4 ahead of you, and you have the 5 in the same suit, then that person has to pick up 5 cards instead of you picking up 4 cards. Could be devastating if you had only a few cards left and thought you were on the way to winning. This year's email added another twist, if the person before you plays the 5 against your 4, and you have the 6 in the same suit, they have to pick up six cards. Super devastating. So back to our game. I generally make it a practice never to play with people who used to have summer cabins where they sat and played card games while on vacation. Now I don't know if that was the case with our friend Irene, but I had my suspicions. She had "the look." We had decided to introduce Paul and Irene to a friendly game of "Screw Your Buddy." It took a few rounds for them to understand the rules and strategy and for us to remember all the permutations of the rules, but they seemed to pick it up quickly. None the less, I was confidently (some might say smugly) leading in points (meaning I had less points ... and you play to 500) during the first several rounds.

Then (as the sailors say), the tide began to turn. Irene, who was seated "upstream" of me, seemed to be getting the concept of giving me 2's and 4's. Again, with a comfortable lead and years of experience playing the game, I preserved and managed to eke out only 10 to 20 points per hand. Then on the next hand, with only a single card separating me from certain victory, Irene lays down the dreaded 4 and I (with that smug look on my face) whipped out the 5 accompanied by some sort of trash-talking comment hoping to put an end to her aggressive play. It had its intended effect.

With the game continuing and my lead holding, I regained my confidence and assured myself that victory was only a few hands away. I was once again on the cusp of victory when Irene again let the 4 of Diamonds slowly drop from her hand. With some sort of derogatory remark, I quickly threw down the 5 of Diamonds to finally put her in her place. Without losing a beat, she slammed down the 6 of Diamonds and watched as I went into apoplectic shock. It is rare for a 5 to be played in response to a 4. I've only seen one during a whole night's play. It's very rare for two 5's to be played during a game. And it's unheard of for a 6 to be played in response to a 5, yet there it was. Rather then trash talk me back, Irene sprang from the table and began a credible version of the "Funky Chicken" to bring her point home. It was all downhill from there. As my scores quickly deteriorated, Paul simply declined to read out the scores in deference to me. Let's just say I got to 500 very quickly that night.

As I said, don't play cards with guys named Lucky or women who may have stayed in a summer cabin with her card-playing family while on vacation.

No comments:

Post a Comment