Today I learned how to play Cribbage. I know, I know … I’m a 38-year-old American and this is something I should have learned long ago. But I just never did. Until today. At my coffee shop, I sometimes play cards with a sweet older lady. She’s been telling me about Cribbage and how much I’d enjoy it. Finally, today, she brought in her board and we hunkered down for a lesson and a few rounds.
Cribbage is believed to have been invented in the 1600s. The whole time we were playing it, I kept thinking, “Man, they really don’t make entertainment like they used to.” What a generous game! There are so many ways to score, I almost felt guilty racking up the points!
If you know how to play Cribbage, you might understand what I mean. It seems to me, in this day and age, a game never allows a player to acquire so many points in so many ways. These days it’s one move, one score, one point or lose a turn. Cribbage, to me, felt like a trip to grandma’s house and eating all the cookies I wanted with no “tsk tsk” or “you’ll ruin your dinner” or “watch your weight.” I almost felt like I was part of a practical joke as I moved my pegs forward and forward and forward again.
I watched my partner and her arthritic thumbs deal the cards and I felt the oddest combination of sadness, regret, joy and anxiousness as she taught me the rules. In a strange way, it saddened me that she has been eased into this generation where a girl like me cannot comprehend such a bighearted game. I regretted not growing up in her era where times were slower and games were kinder. I happily pictured her as a young woman and wondered what I’ll be like when I’m 80 years old. And I anxiously thought of how I really should slow down and start making life simpler for me and my family.
My admiration for her was overwhelming. She sat there with me, occasionally checking her cellphone and sharing stories of playing Cribbage with her husband, who has since passed. She patiently bit her tongue when someone nearby discussed theology. I imagined her stuck between the times and I wondered what times I might be stuck between that I’m not even aware of. Did she envy my age? Pity me and my choice to be agnostic and husband-less? Does she not care one way or another? My head was full of wonder. And all of this swirled through my mind while I counted … 15 two, 15 four, five, six, seven plus the crib.