Saturday night at the hotel, I thought it'd be fun to pull my
boys and their cousins away from the Nintendo for half an hour to play Spoons
(the card game, not the musical utensils). From the way they protested at
being "unplugged," you'd have thought I was disconnecting them from
life support. Before we could start, though, I had to find a deck of cards. I
went down to the front desk and borrowed a rumpled, tattered-looking deck,
and as I stepped into the elevator to go back upstairs, I twisted the rubber
band off the cards and started counting to make sure I had a full deck
(please keep all smart-ass comments to yourself). Some of the backs were
blue, some were red. Some of the cards were Bicycle, and some were Hoyle.
When I looked at their faces, I found that I had 8 aces, 8 kings, 8 queens, 8
jacks, 8 tens, 8 nines and nothing else. My brother said it looked like a
double-euchre deck. I brought it back to the front desk, because with those
cards, one round of Spoons would be over in 5 seconds.
A few minutes later, I remembered that I had a container of Umbra cards in my
car. Obviously, I bought these cards for their nifty form (see fig. 1) and
NOT their functionality, because I soon discovered that the kids couldn't
figure out how to hold them, and the shape of the deck made it impossible to
shuffle. Just as we were going to give up on the whole Spoons thing, my dad
remembered that he had a couple of decks in his briefcase, and they weren't
euchre or Umbra cards, thank goodness.
Once I showed the boys how to play the game, they ate it up. I kept wishing
out loud that we had more people to play, because as you may know, this game
is the most fun when the huge mad scramble for spoons leaves a pile of bodies
on the floor along with one or two casualties.
Anthony started begging my mom to join, promising that we wouldn't tackle HER
during any scrambles. First, he pestered her with a simple
"please-please-please, Grandma." Then he teased her with various
guilt trips: "Don't you love your grandsons? What kind of grandma would
not want to play Spoons with her grandchildren? We'll be SO SAD if you don't
play, Grandma." Right on cue, the other boys looked at her with sad,
THEN during one break in the game, Anthony jumped up, struck a theatrical
pose, and made a speech à la Return of the King: "A day may come
when grandmothers and grandsons no longer play cards together, but it is not
this day. An evening, when we sit around doing nothing, but it is not this
evening. Tonight, we play!" We all burst out laughing, and oh man, he
was just getting warmed up. As we passed cards around the circle, I could see
the wheels turning in his head. As soon as one round ended, he would jump up
and make another movie-inspired speech:
à la Star Wars: "It is
unavoidable, Grandma. Join us. It is your destiny."
à la Star Trek (I think?): "Resistance is futile. You WILL become
one of us."
à la Finding Nemo: "Grandmother of the blue and white, you have
been called forth to the top of Mt. Wannahockaloogie to join in the fraternal
bonds of... spoonhood."
By this point, my mom was almost crying with laughter, and
still refusing to play, just so we could hear the lines Anthony came up with
à la Shrek: "C'mon, this'll be
fun, Grandma! We'll stay up late, swapping spoonly stories, and in the
morning... I'm makin' WAFFLES."
And then finally, he put an arm
around her, gestured toward us, and said, "They may take our spoons,
Grandma, but they will never take... our FREEEEEDOM."
That kid will go far in improv. I would have NEVER been so quick with the lines... they would have
come to me in the middle of the night or a day later, long after the moment
My mom finally relented. She was too weak from laughing to resist any longer.