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: