Seriously? aka: Outsmarting Tracy the Only Way I Know How

You guys know that Tracy is a big-time thinker. Plus, he has a great memory, and he learns why things work as well as how.

And it’s kind of irritating.

I have a terrible memory; either that or I’m careless when it comes to listening. Or I forget to learn why and then never can get the how. And I’m impulsive. All that adds up to Tracy being right nearly all the time.

Here is where games come in.

Pre-covid, we used to walk to a restaurant after work and spend many a happy hour (well, hours) sipping a craft beer and talking about the workday and playing a mindless game at the bar. There’s something about keeping your hands busy while your mind splits itself between complaining about work and thinking about your beer … some kind of gestalt thing happens that’s pure bar happiness.

To find a game that Tracy doesn’t wallop me at though: that was the challenge.

Pigs, Battleships, Codes

We used to play Pass the Pigs (pictured above when we visited the outstanding beer garden in New Ulm, Minnesota,) but once you learn how to throw the pigs so they don’t drop off the table, it’s a game of pure chance so not much fun after about ten minutes.

We’ve also played You Sank My Battleship quite a bit, but Tracy is better at strategy there. And don’t even get him started on that secret code game where one person creates a series of colored pegs and the other person methodically guesses the series. I’m so bad at that that Tracy had to play both our roles just to get us through the game. We’ve tried dominoes, too.

Finally, Gin Rummy

Cards though: these seem to be his weakness.

Sure he looks good in a hat while he shuffles, but he simply does not always win.

We play cards nearly every night we sit outside (which is nearly every night), which means we go through card decks mighty quickly. I bought this mushroom one when we were camping at Lake Anna, VA, in the Frolic, back before we had the Airstream. Each card features a mushroom and its facts.

It reminds me of the days when I played speed solitaire with my sister and mom (you each have your own deck for that game) and later with my flat mates in college. For that game, you knew your deck well and treated it carefully so it would last. These mushroom ones lasted more than a year, when they got rained on. Hence me photographing the deck before I tossed them.

Once in Iowa, after our usual I-get-tattoo-work-then-Tracy-preps-to-paddle-down-the-Mississippi, my flight home was delayed, so we bought a set of oversized cards at the Salvation Army down the street from a brewpub and had ourselves a good old time.

They were funny to play with at the time but are actually a pain in the ass.

Our current cards each feature a different fishing lure; we bought them while returning home from a camping trip in the Frolic and the old truck broke down, so e had to extend our camping trip and needed something to do. Turns out camping and cards go together as well as bars and cards.

I realize I’m avoiding the subject though: How do I manage to win at this game of strategy when Tracy outsmarts me at nearly everything else?

It’s my “Seriously” move.


Now this is a long story, so dig in only if you’re prepared to sit for a bit.

My niece suffered (and I mean that) from a very rare genetic disease that caused every kind of havoc you can imagine with her body, and one was recurring strokes that left her with aphasia. She was intelligent as all get-out, but she was trapped in a tiny, barely functioning body, in hospitals often, and with a lot to say about the inequities of her life. After a few strokes, she didn’t even have her usually rich vocabulary to complain with.

So she would condense all her disbelief in her absurd plight into one pithy word. “Seriously?”

You’d present her with the meds she had to take that hour when one was new and no medical professional had yet explained it to her. Seriously?

She’d open a present from some well-meaning person (who clearly didn’t know her) of super -girly clothes. She’d look at the clothes, then look up at you with her greasy, neon-dyed hair and face piercings poking around her oxygen tube. Seriously?

She’d be standing at the nurses’ station, arms crossed in fury, waiting seemingly forever to be helped, and an internist who didn’t know her would walk up to the nurse and ask if someone named Katherine had been helped yet. SERIOUSLY? and she’d storm off.

She had snark down.

So that’s how I get Tracy at cards. When he lays down a card that seems absurdly unwise to discard, I say the magic word. Then he thinks, should I have laid that down? Is she collecting that? Or he’ll lay down an inappropriate one just to hear me say it (I really can’t help myself sometimes).

Plus, I talk a lot while we play. Sometimes this is not to my advantage because Tracy’s pretty good at tuning me out, but I do love the occasion when I get to a story’s denouement right when I knock on the table and say, “Gin.” I love playing to the rhythm of my story.


You guys know we enjoy this complex-as-hell board game that roughly follows various episodes of the TV show, Firefly,

It takes us four to five hours to play, and we need every flat surface we can conjure plus small bowls and several drinks and snacks and a good playlist for the night.

Don’t get me wrong; Tracy is very good at this game. In fact, now that we’ve played all the scenarios that came in the box, he’s written a few of his own so we can keep playing. (LOL, check out Banjo on the sofa, below.)

But Tracy did go through a streak of actually losing to me. His problem was part bad luck, part bad planning. You simply can’t move your ship in the non-Alliance-ruled space without both a mechanic and a pilot in your crew. If you’re out in the Black without sufficient crew mates and you pull the card for the Reaver ship to move to your sector, you die. Plain and simple.

And he did that, TWICE! That’s two full nights of setting up the game, picking the music, making the drinks, yadda yadda, all for Tracy to simply die. Game over.

I’m afraid he’s learned this lesson, though, and my chances of winning are much smaller now.

Still, maybe I can work in my “Seriously” move somehow. You’re going to buy an extra drive core plus those fancy duds when you’re not even in good with Siska yet? How many negotiating icons do you even have? Seriously?

If you read this whole danged blog post, thanks for hanging in here with me. As always, please stay safe!

And just in case you’re still hanging in there, here’s a song I’m working on that’s appropriate:

10 thoughts to “Seriously? aka: Outsmarting Tracy the Only Way I Know How”

  1. Hi Shelly, I really like this blog entry for several reasons, but I need to keep it short.
    It seems as you two don’t play video or computer games and I have a question for you two, … why?
    I don’t like video or computergames myself, but what’s the difference from your perspective?
    Lots of hugs,

  2. Hi Li! We both do the New York Times crossword puzzle (though I usually stick to the Monday one that’s easiest). Tracy plays another NYT word game, and I play some physics game on my phone that Finn showed me. But that’s all solitary stuff, and we like to spend the evenings together. Even watching TV together is kind of solitary, don’t you think?

    1. Yes I think you’re right Shelly. I learned from our dog that TV, computer displays, mobile telephones and such are devices in the way, inbetween separating people (and dogs), she hated to hear my voice on the telephone there was so much else of me missing and she didn’t like Marianne and me watching TV. Everything else we did interacting with each other more direkt, like especially playing outside games she liked and could get interested in and wanted (or demanded) to participate (her way though). So I think there is something there about interacting live that we don’t know so much about yet, but I bet our dog did.

        1. Lisa is and will be with me all the way Shelly. That dog was an enlightning interaction, family really, and Lisa teached me more about life than any professor, university or school. So, sometimes it’s like listen to nature as is and take it in.

  3. You have the coolest decks and play my favorite games! *waving* deck design nerd here haha

    I learned to play gin rummy with a bunch of old guys/fellow glider pilots; those were the days. Sigh. My absolute facorite version is ‘contract rummy’ but it’s not for two players – you need four players and two decks of cards (with jokers). Its advantage (or disadvantage, depending on POV) is that the game is finite: seven hands, each with a different contract and the last three have more cards in the hand. This one is about half skill and half psychology, knowing your competition is crucial to winning.

    Hearts for two is just weird and not much fun but for three it’s super-interesting and the strategy is totally different from hearts for four players. Hearts, like contract rummy, might be for the new times coming.

    In the new times coming I would jump at a chance to play MasterMind with Tracy. The super version with all the colors, multiples-of-a-color and empty holes legal possibilities. Best way I know to teach logical progression, it didn’t take too long before the kids knew why and how not to make mistakes that I’d catch (evil mom grin).

    1. Yes, Mastermind – that’s it! He literally got so tired of me messing up my response to his guesses (and even though he didn’t know what my pattern was, he could tell that my responses were illogical), that he just started guessing my pattern — as well as my responses to his guesses. Smarty pants. I bet you two would enjoy playing together.

      Yeah, finding a card game (or any good game) for two players is tough.

      But finding fun cards is a pleasure! We also have Smokey the Bear cards and a deck that’s shaped like beer cans. Hoping to get a Florida deck before we leave. Not wanting to go inside stores is a serious impediment to that though.

  4. I’m a big fan of “seriously?” 🤨 I love board games and cards but Mat doesn’t and there’s limited games for just me and Hazel. She’s old enough for Gin and other games like that though, we should have a go

    1. God we’ve known each other so long I think we’re having the same conversations over again. 🙂 Let me know how it goes with Hazel though and Gin!