“Mom, can we play bridge tonight,” my nine-year old asked his mother as my whole family walked along the beach last week.
“Bridge?” I interjected. “Where did you learn to play bridge?”
My son stared at me. “Dad, it’s no big deal. We each get a deck of cards and see who can build a bridge the fastest.”
“Oh,” I said, understanding his meaning and laughing inside at the same time. I knew that neither my wife nor I know how to play bridge. In the seconds before my son explained, I’d imagined most of his friends and their families, wondering which ones might be bridge players. It was useless. I’d never played the game in my life. I know of no one in my generation who knows how either.
In my parents’ generation, it was a different story. My mom used to play bridge all the time. She belonged to a bridge club that would meet once a month at someone’s house. They’d have food and prizes. I think this went on for several years as I remember a number of parties at the house with the kids having to stay upstairs. When I got up to go to school the day after a bridge club meeting, I noted that the card tables were still out, covered with half-full bowls of snacks and unfinished drinks. Mom always cleaned the day after.
I don’t know if bridge is a dying game, but games with family never dies. While we were at the beach, we did the usual things. We spent the day swimming, caught a fireworks display, ate a lot of good seafood at local restaurants, and caught a movie. The kids spent time at a Nascar Speedpark.
However, we also played cards, mostly regular deck versions of Uno and Old Maid. Old Maid was the funnest. My wife called it by its Japanese name, babanuki. The baba part of the word refers to the Old Maid card, so my wife gave it a southern spin and called it the “Bubba” card. It proved to be a difficult game to play with the kids. Neither of them could keep a straight expression when they got the “Bubba” card, so we always knew where it was. However, I think we all eventually lost one and called babanuki done.
We did a lot of fun stuff while we at the beach, but the card games stay with me. It may be sitting at home for a night, but it’s still TV-off, family interaction.
And that alone can be special.