The time-honoured family tradition of playing cards enjoyed a comeback in our house this Christmas New Years.
It was great because it got people off their mobile phones and engaging with humans who were actually in the room.
They were trying to work out things like "why the hell did my partner just lead with a low heart when they called Clubs trumps?"
And "are they trying to tell me something with that weird facial expression and constant winking and nodding? I think my partner is having a stroke."
Such are the rollercoaster antics of card playing during the summer holidays.
Best performed after a day at the beach and maybe one too many bowls of Christmas pudding and custard.
We took to the ancient and instructive game of 500 this year, and it was something of a revelation - mainly about how little we know about the game.
That's was because we only re-learnt it recently from our card-playing friends.
I'm going to call them card-playing mentors because they always spark up a game.
They were the people who taught us the dark art of Texas Hold Em poker and betting exuberantly with fake chips.
That had been great fun - even that brief stint in gamblers anonymous afterwards.
Such was our enthusiasm for being relentlessly humiliated in 500, we thought we might try and pass on the experience to our bewildered children.
Bewildered because what we were trying to show them a) did not involve the internet b) required face to face social interaction and c) was quite possibly not accurate.
It was a lot to take in, and I don't think it got any clearer the slower we emphasised things, like "left bower", "right bower" and "got it?"
Experienced card players love a good monologue. Particularly in front of you, often about you, as if you weren't there.
So we tried emphasising things louder, and the more we played, the better we thought we got, even if purists might not have recognised what we were playing.
Learning a vague approximation of any card game really tightens the family unit, I think, and reminds me of the good old days when cards was serious business and everyone knew how to play a range of games, intensely, even properly.
Indeed, I remember back before the internet, TV and possibly electricity, playing what I'd call "combat" euchre with my nan, parents and assorted aunts and uncles.
Such was the fierceness of the competition, If someone blew a hand, you didn't make a fuss, you simply didn't talk to them for the rest of their life.
My relatives used to impress on me that to not know how to play, or be a good partner, reflected poorly on one's character and quite possibly their upbringing. We weren't playing for sheep stations, they'd often say - it was much more serious that that.
There was never any doubt about what to do if a tricky situation arose with the rules. People just knew because they had iron traps for minds. My how times change.
Luckily those mobile phones mentioned earlier were never too far away these holidays and we could look things up.
Like what is Misere in 500, and if No Trumps is bid, does that make the Joker the Riddler? Sure seemed that way.
A quick Google revealed Misere is a call by which a player undertakes to win no tricks.
Something a bad card player usually has no trouble achieving, but a mind-bending feat for a novice to nail on purpose.
We're still not sure about the status of the Joker in a No Trumps scenario, such are the varying schools of thought down the online 500 rabbit hole, so we just made up a family rule and if you don't like it, you can get off our property.
The fam felt good bonding against the world that way. It reiterated the importance of sticking together employing strategy, cunning, subtlety and a poker face. Four things I lack, according to my card-playing mentors. They love outlining in detail why that is so every time we play.
Part of the mind game, they say. Experienced card players love a good monologue. Particularly in front of you, often about you, as if you weren't there. The worst part is that, in general, they make a compelling case.
I've never been a great card player but I can't afford to let them know that, even if they appear to be saying quite openly that is the case. One day I dream of bluffing my card-playing mentors into thinking I have no idea, which shouldn't be a stretch, and then revealing I do have an idea by winning a hand. Or two
Playing cards breeds ambition that way and inspires the odd pearls of wisdom. Like "it's not the hand you're dealt but the way you play your cards that matters". People who say that usually have a good hand.
Bitter and twisted veterans of the card caper know the general key ingredient to winning any card game is being dealt a good hand. But just like my poker face, you can't always rely on that.
The more important cliche to master is knowing when to hold em, fold em, walk away or run.
At least you can hum that one.
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