Friday, March 17, 2006

Heureux au jeu, malheureux en amour

I first heard that expression when I was 14, and stayed in France with a family for the month of July through an exchange program called NACEL. It means "Lucky at cards, unlucky at love". The family I stayed with taught me how to play a game called Tarot Trump, and marvelled at my ability to always end up with the most trumps per hand, even when I didn't understand the game. The very cute cousin of my French "sister" shook his head and said, "Je suis desole pour ton petit ami", that is "I feel bad for your boyfriend".

Someone bought my daughter a card game for Christmas that I found on the bookshelf about a week ago. Crazy Eights. There are 36 cards which are colors instead of suits (red, yellow, green,
blue) and numbered 0-8. Each numbered card has an animal on it, reinforcing that the items with different colors but the same numbers go together.

So we've been playing Crazy Eights together. I have always been a fan of card games. My great aunt on my dad's side taught me how to play Gin Rummy when I was 5. Sitting by Gramma's pool, Auntie would chain smoke her Viceroys. She never let us win, she always played a fiercely competitive game so when you actually won a hand, wow, it was big stuff.

So these Crazy Eights cards are a little too big to be comfortable in my hands (so my 3 1/2 year old daughter can't manage to hold her hand properly) and the numbers are printed in the upper right corners, which means you have to spread the cards facing left. The first day we played together, we were excited when my husband came home to play a three-person hand. He leaned over to my daughter and said very seriously, "Never bet at cards against your mom."

"Ok, Daddy."

"Your mom is SCARY GOOD at cards," he said. "Never bet anything you're not prepared to lose."

So this morning, we played a few hands of Crazy Eights, just my daughter and I. She continued to set her cards down face up in front of her, and talked her way through the game ("The next card has to be yellow, a number 5, or a Lizard Card (an 8)"). Of the 5 hands we played, she won 2 of them.

At one point she set down her cards."Mom?"


"Daddy said you're very good at playing cards," she said carefully.

"Well, Daddy thinks so."

"Oh." Her eyes widened, "Maybe I am going to be very good at playing cards."

"Sure," I replied. "If you practice, you will get better."

"I like to win," she said.

"Yep. But the game is still fun when you don't win, isn't it?"

"Yes. But it's more fun when I win."

I smiled. And dealt another hand.

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