Old Maid bridges the generation gap

Published 7:29 am Thursday, August 31, 2006

By Staff
So, there we were – two grandparents and two grandchildren -sitting on our cottage porch, playing Old Maid.
Three of us were playing; the 3-year-old was allowed to watch.
While I consider myself to be a rather patient person, I have my limits.
I will play Chutes and Ladders, a variety of checkers, Monopoly, Go Fish, several "real" card games and Old Maid.
I absolutely refuse to play Candyland and a couple other board games.
So, it was Old Maid that evening.
The weather was grand. The crickets and cicadas were singing.
The waves on Lake Michigan lapped the shore.
Larissa dealt the cards, giving each of us an equal number.
We organized and examined our hands, discarded the matched pairs and the game was in full swing – until Nana drew the Old Maid card from my hand.
Skyler reacted with great joy.
"Look! The Olden May," she shouted.
From then on the challenge to discharge the Old Maid was intense.
Somehow – the gods must have been upset with me – the card returned to my hand and I was crowned Old Maid.
Well, I've been called worse!
Three more hands, and I was still the Old Maid!
Some monikers remain forever. I doubt that I'll ever be able to live this one down.
Before beginning the game we finalized the rules.
Our rules were quite different from those printed on the box, but were much more to our liking. What's so wrong about making up your own rules? It's just a card game.
Adults become much too legalistic when it comes to playing games with children.
What's even better is that we reserve the right to change the rules if they become burdensome or work against us rather than for us.
What I really want to relate about that card game was the joyful abandonment we all experienced that bridged the generations.
We laughed. We feigned fear, disgust and disappointment -all were greatly exaggerated.
The important thing was the fun we had.
For that span of time on the cottage porch, nothing else mattered.
I forgot the inflated price I paid at the gas pump when filling the tank prior to our trip north (even though the price had fallen substantially).
I didn't think about bills, mortgage payments, insurance premiums, work obligations.
All that mattered was having fun with two lovely granddaughters.
I knew, of course, that reality would finally win out and rules would have to be followed and obligations met.
But for that moment in time worry was abandoned.
Casting aside reality is permitted on the porch.
There aren't many carefree days left in this summer.
I'm going to enjoy them as much as I can while they last.
Our 3-year-old called my attention to reality in her own innocent way when she stood behind me and gasped, "Papa, why do you have a hole in your hair?" That did it! Baldness is a shock of reality. It is right up there with paying bills, making mortgage payments and tending to work obligations.
No matter how bald I was, or will become, in my heart I'm still the Old Maid. So put that in your deck and shuffle!