Laugh Lines



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.

Good times.

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, puppy-dog faces.

THEN during one break in the game, Anthony jumped up, struck a theatrical pose, and made a speech 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:


la Star Wars: "It is unavoidable, Grandma. Join us. It is your destiny."

la Star Trek (I think?): "Resistance is futile. You WILL become one of us."

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 next:


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 had passed.

My mom finally relented. She was too weak from laughing to resist any longer.