December 10, 2020

My grandmother taught me to ride a two-wheel bicycle. She taught me to distinguish a salad fork from a lobster fork and how to make the perfect hospital corner. She also taught me a mean game of Gin. We played for hours, like two old dames, in a 1940s movie. “Breast your cards,” she’d whisper from the other side of the kitchen table. She had beautiful hands; I loved the sight of her French manicured tips pressed against her cards. Years later, my little Florence flat turned into the Gin headquarters, where we’d all convene to play cards, cook and drink Italian plonk. When we travelled, Jason and I always packed a deck of cards for long flights, delays in crummy airports, and rainy days stuck in a hostel with little to do. In Koh Samui, where it rained everyday, we must have played a thousand games of Gin on the porch of our little straw hut. And Shithead. By then our repertoire had expanded to include two games. Shithead is good, too. But there’s nothing like Gin Rummy. Last week, I taught the children to play, and they’ve since made Gin their evening activity. They play for hours. My grandmother’s version was the classic, and ours permits picking up the entire discard pile. We’ve made other adjustments that she’d likely turn up her nose at. But I think she’d be happy to see her great grand children playing cards. “Lucky in cards, unlucky in love,” she’d say to us all, peering over her reading glasses.


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