Not In the Cards
My in-laws recently spent three excruciatingly long days at my house hogging the bathroom and failing to help with even the simplest tasks, such as re-shingling the roof. This column, however, is not going to be your usual in-law-bashing piece, because for all their faults, they are the only people who actually buy me what I want for Christmas.
This column is about cards. As in "Letís play cards because, well, weíre in between meals."
As I see it, there are two types of families -- the type that grew up playing cards together and the type that grew up ducking flying appliances together. My spouse grew up in the former. I grew up in the latter, as is obvious from the words "Oster Blender" permanently imprinted in my forehead.
Actually, my family did occasionally play cards. We played a game many of you may remember as "Spoons." We called it "Forks."
Different card games are popular in different parts of the country. In Florida, for example, they play Canasta. In Texas, itís poker. In North Dakota, theyíve given up playing cards altogether because, due to frostbite, they can no longer shuffle.
My in-laws are from Indiana, home of the Indy 500, a sport that is about as exciting as watching water drain out of the tub. Needless to say, theyíre used to things that are boring in Indiana. Which is why they play Euchre.
If youíve never heard of Euchre, let me explain it to you briefly, so that youíll have enough information to avoid it at all possible costs.
Euchre features all the whining and complaining of bridge, combined with the finesse and skill of "Go Fish." The singular outstanding characteristic about Euchre, other than the fact that the people playing it usually wear overalls, is the fact that the JACK IS THE HIGH CARD!
No one really knows why the jack is the high card, instead of, say, the ace, as in most normal games. My best guess is that back in the 50ís, some high school kid in Indiana came home with all Dís on his report card and convinced parents that D was the highest grade. With the success under his belt, he went on to invent Euchre. Those Indianans! What cards!
Another unique feature of the game, and one about which Euchre players all over the state are very proud, is that THE CARDS ARE DEALT TWO AT A TIME! Actually this is not always true. Sometimes, they ARE DEALT THREE AT A TIME. Canít you just feel the excitement?
Of course, like most card games, this one has itís own unique language. Thereís "In the barn" and "The gate is open" and other barnyard references, such as "Sleeping with the livestock."
So, as we all sat down to play the game, I was a-quiver. Of course, this could have been due to the fact that I hadnít been able to get into my bathroom for the past seventeen hours.
My father-in-law opened with two spades. My spouse countered with three hearts. My mother-in-law passed. "Four of a kind beats a flush," I countered. It did not elicit the raucous laughter Iíd hoped for. Indianans are very serious about Euchre. In fact, failure to take the game seriously is the leading cause of divorce in the state.
Things went from bad to worse. I had no idea what was going on, so I bid three diamonds every time, regardless of what was in my hand. I insisted on dealing the cards one at a time. I inadvertantly blurting out things like, "What were you, born in a barn?" And, in the end, I won.
I chalked it up to beginnerís luck, but they were so depressed. I felt sorry for them and decided we should play something else.
So I got out the forks.
© 1998 LA Jasheway
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