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!!!