Friday, August 05, 2005

Tough Competition

It's another Berwick/Bloomsburg weekend. More cleaning, more organizing. And hopefully, more drinking and poker. The last time I was there, I told an 89 year old woman that the next visit was going to involve a game of poker. I also asked her to take it easy on me and not take too much of my money.

Last weekend was the first time I met BigMike's (Great-)Aunt Sarah. She's a small, slightly frail-looking woman. I'd heard stories about Aunt Sarah... about how she's always trying to manipulate various members of the family and what a general pain-in-the-neck she is. When I sat down at the dinner table last Saturday for our meal, I couldn't reconcile this pleasant little woman with the image of the dragon I had created in my mind. As we ate, Aunt Sarah, BigMike, his cousin Steve and Steve's mom Carol were talking about family happenings - how is so-and-so doing, did you see so-and-so's new car, so-and-so just had a baby, and general small talk. Here's where I first started to see the smoke... Aunt Sarah looks over at me and nonchalantly says, "Who the heck are you?"

The table burst into laughter. BigMike had thought we'd been introduced before, so he hadn't bothered with it this time. He explained to Aunt Sarah who I was, and she seemed happy with his explanation. BigMike tried to rile her up further by telling her I was Polish - their entire family is Italian, and Aunt Sarah thinks everyone else should be too. She didn't take the bait (or possibly didn't hear it) that time, so I was safe for a little longer.

The conversation took an upward swing for me when BigMike mentioned that Aunt Sarah was the person who taught him how to play poker. She smiled and got this wistful look in her eyes as she thought about her poker playing days. She'd told me that she had always kept a huge jar of change around specifically for the poker games. She'd give BigMike and the rest of the kids a handful of money to play with, then proceed to win every single cent of it back. She'd have to give them more money sometimes 3 or 4 times in a night, but they never left with a penny. BigMike started laughing and agreed with her 100%.

She started retelling stories of the old days where she'd go over to her friends' houses and play until all hours of the morning. She made me laugh when she started talking about the neighbors. "I was never embarassed for my husband about what time I got home. He was in bed sleeping and knew I was playing cards. I was always embarassed for the neighbors, having to see me come home at 5:30 in the morning." This woman sounds like someone I would have been great friends with, had we been born in the same generation. I suggested that she should have brought home doughnuts so that the neighbors thought she'd just gone out to get them, but Aunt Sarah just laughed and said she really didn't care what the neighbors would think anyways.

We talked a little more, but it was getting late and we still had a lot of work to do. When we got up to leave, I said goodbye to Aunt Sarah and promised her a game of poker during our next visit. I have at least 3 jars of change ready. I know I'm going to need it.


Blogger StB said...

If she starts taking your money, switch to Razz. That'll teach her!

Sounds like a sassy little lady there. Bet she is firecracker!

11:31 AM  

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