I’m in it to win it!!!!

I’ve enjoyed watching “American Idol” for many seasons, but I’ve recently lost interest in it because of all the preteen girls who vote for the most undeserving singers.  If you’re not a cute male singer, then you’re not gonna make it, it seems.  [Not that I don’t have a soft spot somewhere for cute male singers.  You are reading the musings of a woman who, at the age of about 12, demanded that she be referred to as “Frankie’ in homage to Frankie Avalon.] 

But I’m so over that.  Although I have to admit that once, in my late 50s I was at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and they paged “Mr. Avalon; Mr. Frankie Avalon” [who was entertaining there] and I almost passed out from excitement….or, as I like to refer to it, “the vapors.” 

Nonetheless, to fill my spare time, I’ve recently switched my loyalties to “The Voice” on TV and to a group of expat women who have lots of activities, including playing games.  And I do love me some games.  Have since I was a kid. 

At my [nominally] Aunt Sally and Uncle Roy’s house in southern Texas, I learned to love  playing games while the parents were playing 42….some domino game I’ve never learned.  But while they were doing that, I, Sally and Roy’s two kids, Brenda and Darrell, Wilma and Joe’s four kids, and the Tate’s six kids, were either inside or outside playing games of our own.  And, looking back on it, you can imagine how much all the parents HATED having 13 preadolescents in the house playing Fruit Basket Turn Over and therefore prayed for good weather so at least we would all be outside!

But playing games with a bunch of women “of a certain age”, who live in Mexico full time, precludes winding up with that many young’uns in the next room.  Although my friend Mary Ann brought her 11 year old granddaughter Nora to one of the Rummikub games.  Turns out that the kid is not only smart as a whip and a good Rummikub player, she’s a hoot!  For whatever reason, I wound up having more in common with Nora than I did with a lot of the women who attended.  I know this will come as a shock to perhaps one of you. 

By nature, I’m not much of a joiner.  Generally, in my past life and here in Mexico, I have a small coterie of friends whom I have selected, based primarily on their senses of humor and ability to contribute something edible to pitch in lunches.  The qualifications are this:  if they find me funny when I first meet them, then I figure they’ve got great senses of humor.  [No, really.  Any one of those friends will tell you that everything really is all about me, me, me.   Hence the importance of bringing me foods I like.  If you wanna be in my coterie, you best be making potato salad!]    

And I like them to be very bright.  A friend of mine in Las Vegas once described me as “an intellectual snob.”  Had never heard it before, but I’m pretty sure he’s right.  Of course, the sense of humor and the intelligence often go hand in hand, so I don’t normally need a dual measuring stick. 

Aside from Rummikub, another game that we play a lot down here is Mexican Train.  It’s a domino game that, I understand,  Mexicans also play but call Cuban Train.  As an anthropologist, I love that kinda thing, whether it’s true or not!  Just as I love knowing that the real ‘Mexican train’ on the board is the one that is open for anyone to play on.  That is, not a ‘private train’ [i.e. line of dominoes that only the originator can play upon].  Here’s what a fairly typical Mexican train layout looks like:


Rummikub also has an interesting history.  In the ’40s, a Romanian toothbrush maker came up with the idea because he still wanted to play Gin Rummy, but card games were outlawed in Romania at that time.  [KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK  “Open up; it’s the card police!!!!”]  So in order to avoid this form of harassment, this guy just replaced the cards with tiles numbering from 1 to 13.  Here’s what it looks like:

But there are some differences down here.  Note that at least three of the four players have watches on or about them?   This apparently indicates their obsession with time.  But since we are, for the most part, retired ladies, we might wear a watch to let us know how close we are to our social commitments, but other than that, pretty much nobody gives a damn what time it is or what day it is.

That’s just one of the things that makes retirement so great!  But, don’t be fooled by our nonchalance…..or at least not by mine.  I’m still, in the immortal and oft repeated words of Randy Jackson, IN IT TO WIN IT!!!


About Barbara

in april of 2008, i moved from the united states to mexico. during my working days, i held lots and lots of jobs....almost all chosen because they were fun or interesting instead of how much they paid. when i started thinking about retirement (in my 40s), i realized that i would never be able to retire to a country where english was the native language. and although i had traveled to every state in the US -- and lived in lots of them -- i had never been outside the country with the exception of canada and mexico. and since you now know that i could never afford to retire in canada (even to the french-speaking area), mexico won by default.
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12 Responses to I’m in it to win it!!!!

  1. I love playing games too! We have both of those games but I’m still not very hot at Mexican train. My favorite card game is Phase 10 because it takes so long 🙂 And my all time favorite is cribbage but I don’t imagine I’ll find many players in Mexico 😦


    • Barbara says:

      k, you might be amazed with the players you can find in mexico! i’d never even HEARD of mexican train or rummikub until i got down here and then i found out that lots of people were playing them! i just had to learn them and join one group to find other players.

  2. Gigi says:

    Also very non-Mx is the clothing worn by these players! Looks like they’re grabbing a round during lunch break from a corporate job! Well, I’ve neither heard of nor played rummikub, but can’t wait to try it with you! I hope my ‘neither/nor’ phrase qualifies my intellect to be an acceptable player!

    • Barbara says:

      i don’t know how good a player you might be, but you’ve definitely passed the “barb friends” test!!!

  3. GreengaGirl says:

    Ahhhh, this brings back memories. This was my grandparents favorite game. I can remember sitting around their dining room table playing this. After my grandfather died, I would go over and play it with grandma to keep her company. I wonder if I would even remember how to play now.

    • barb says:

      greenga, which one of the games was your granddad’s favorite? but i’m glad that you spent some time playing it with your grandma…..whichever one it was. my grandma taught me canasta and poker and i loved every minute i spent playing it with her!

  4. Kathi says:

    I’m one of ‘The Ladies Who Play’ here Lakeside. Rummikub and Mx Train are fun……but I just don’t care to win….I just wanna’ have fun.
    Tomorrow we’re going to learn another game!

  5. Jonnie says:

    Well, I’m headed NOB in two weeks and will be coming back with a game called Sequence and if we like Joker tomorrow I will try to find that too. So look out, Toys R Us here I come!!!!

    Gee, I thought our friendship was a little deeper than just a bowl of potato salad!

    • Oooh, I have Sequence too and we all love it! When we travel to visit family, we bring along Sequence, Phase 10, and Spanish Bingo. I haven’t heard of Joker though.


    • barb says:

      oh, jojo, our friendship is as deep as the sahuayo headdresses are tall!! and all the readers can discover how tall that is in a few weeks!!

      and, by the way, you kicked butt at joker today!!! ,

  6. me says:

    So Kathi…not liking to win goes along with just never winning!!!???
    And I am so glad barbara thinks I am intellectual…must be cause
    I am so good (terrible) at playing these games!!

  7. GreengaGirl says:

    Rummicube. Sorry, I was so excited that I forgot to specify.

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