If that title means anything at all to you, you've played cribbage. My dad was taught to play cribbage by a hospital roommate many decades ago, and that was the start of countless games between the two of us. We loved our cribbage games so much that one year I bought him a giant cribbage board, four feet long. Because he lived in Florida, mud-daubing wasps filled up all the holes. But I cleaned them out, and I still have the board somewhere. I should find it and hang it up.
This week I discovered online cribbage, playing against the computer. Believe me, it is not as much fun as playing with Harry. But I was surprised at how quickly the game came back to me, considering it's probably been close to 20 years since I've played. And I learned something else. There's a certain lingo attached to cribbage, and after I played a few rounds with the computer I began to remember it. It felt good to speak it aloud.
"See one, play one."
"Fifteen four is all I score."
I don't know why cards are so much fun. How we found hilarity in sitting at a table staring at them and adding up points, I have no idea. But we did. The banter was fast and funny, our laughter frequent.
My dad loved playing cards. If we had a group, we played knock rummy. If it was just the two of us, we played cribbage, honeymoon bridge, or some variation on rummy. And you had to play for money with my father. Not a lot of money, but some coins had to exchange hands at the end of the evening. Said coins usually ended up in his hand.
My daughter Jill was the only one of my kids to inherit the card gene. She and I played several different games, but it is our hilarious double-solitaire battles I remember best. No money was involved, but you'd think we were playing for megabucks the way our hands slammed those cards down to beat the other to the center. Like her grandfather, she usually beat me.
Playing against a computer really can't compare. No matter how many qualities one tries to attribute to one's opponent, it's just a hunk of metal. And the charming British accent of the recorded scorekeeper fails to save the experience from being so quiet. Maybe this is why I find myself saying out loud all those expressions my dad taught me so long ago.
"Fifteen two is all I do."