The Games People Play

Rose Mary is feeling a little under the weather. This is a reprint of a column from October, 2014

I woke up with a case of the literary doldrums. I even got out my file of quips and insightful sayings by people that I’ve saved for an emergency. I reread last week’s column before e-mailing it and thought, “I hope that people aren’t bored with this recitation of various games.”
Well, I never! — as old Granny used to say. I can’t predict what will ring people’s chimes. I received e-mails from people who piggybacked on my reminiscences. As I say so often, “I am you, and you are me.” Serendipity is when one unexpectedly comes across something happy. I’m certainly smart enough to take advantage of these serendipitous e-mails and let others do my writing today!
Mary Jo, the wife of one of Bill’s nephews, wrote:
Loved this column today.  I was such a game person from a very young age. So many happy memories come from those times gathered around a card table.  My sister, Ang, and I started playing Monopoly before we understood how the game ended.  Some games went on for three days and we kept our money in our billfolds at night!
I have always carried a deck of cards and we even played under our desks during 8th grade Spanish which is why I know about ten words! I remember my grandmother and her siblings playing Euchre on holidays and that was the only time I heard her swear.  They got so loud and would bang on the table and let out a string of curse words that sounded so happy and celebratory even though they lost that hand.  You could tell they had spent decades enjoying the competition with those they loved.  I could almost see your family playing canasta because although we are all different we can relate in so many ways.
What a hoot about Mary Jo and Angela keeping their Monopoly money in their wallets! Friend Jean wrote about a happy memory of how she, her Mom, daughter and father-in-law played a gambling game, Left-Right-Center, betting nickels rather than dollars. They laughed and shouted so much that her husband who was working in his office went downstairs to see what was going on. She still goes to a nursing home to play euchre with her deceased mother’s buddies.
My insightful nephew, John Jones, summed up the importance of games in people’s lives.
The games are all different but they have a common thread that binds them together, the players. Other than chess, which demands all your concentration, all of these games can be played while chatting and visiting with the other players. It is this sense of community while playing that brings everyone to the table. You can swap gossip, news, thoughts and humor while snacking or enjoying a beverage. In our fast paced and hectic lives we have need of these game times to recharge our souls and reaffirm our place with family and friends. You talked about the penny-ante poker, which I remember. It wasn’t the pennies that mattered…they were just to keep score. It was the people holding the cards, laughing, carrying on and having a grand time. It was the bonding of people over a game table.
John’s mother, Christine, and I played vicious games of Scrabble. “Rose Mary, I don’t think that’s a word.” “It is too!” “Get out the dictionary.” The Internet has added a new dimension to games. Friend Jana plays Scrabble on her pad with her sister who lives in Minnesota. Her husband plays bridge with various people from all over the world. He never knows who will turn up. Niece Lynn used to play Mafia Wars with an international group.
The new technology is wonderful. However, it is a second-hand, virtual reality where one cannot hear shouts of glee, cussing or moans of disappointment. One is essentially alone. I cannot imagine that it builds deep memories where one hears the voices of beloved people in the mind’s ear.