As Luck Would Have It
We all know one or more of “those” kinds of people. Maybe you are one. Well, then, more luck to you. Not that you need my wishes. You are the type who could break a mirror on Friday the thirteenth, carelessly walk beneath the open ladder, ignore nineteen black cats crossing your path, and fall into the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
You make money buying lottery tickets. You win the snowmobile door prize at the Volunteer Fire Department’s fundraiser. Whenever there is a raffle, you buy one ticket and win the prize.
You get the good seat at the ball game while I’m peeking from behind the post. You snare the last sought-after-item on the shelf while I stand empty handed. You walk into the pizza parlor and as the lucky one millionth customer, are presented with a certificate for free pizzas for life. I’m next through the door. I purchase rolls of raffle tickets and never win so much as a John Deere cap or Insurance Company calendar.
Do you think I sound resentful? Me? Well, maybe. A little bit.
Let me tell you about my latest brush with Lady Luck. I enjoy playing cards. I win some; lose some. No big deal. Playing is fun. That is why it is called “play”. Some days the cards come my way. Some days they don’t. I like a complicated game, something requiring a smidgeon of skill along with holding the right cards.
My friend and I play a card game or two or three most mornings. Over the last several weeks we have enjoyed a particular, rather complicated game, one with a gigantic pile of cards, one with several strategy points. Some days I am lucky. Some days she is lucky. Some days we split the difference: Win one; lose one. To fracture a cliché, ours is not to win or lose, but to enjoy the game. Our mornings are full of banter while we deal and play.
All well and good. Until three weeks ago. How can I explain what happened. The cards abandoned me. They turned on me. They began to hate me and showed their hatred by sticking out their collective tongues and chanting neener, neener, neener. I swear this is truth.
Three days pass and I don’t win a game. Four days. Five. Nada. The cards seem to swoon over my friend. They love her, adore her, leap into her hand in perfect order. We play longer hours, more games. She wins every stinking game. Sometime into the second week, we quit bantering. I handled my cards with a grim determination. She not only beat me, she skunked me, time after time. I felt like I sat stuck in a traffic jam on the freeway, engine off. She buzzed around me doing ninety in her little red sports convertible. Toot! Toot! Know what I mean?
“What’s wrong with me?” I forced through clenched teeth in the third week of being a loser. “Why am I not getting any cards? I’m not making bad plays, laying down the wrong cards. I’m not playing any cards. I don’t mind losing if I at least get to play. Well, I do mind losing every game for three solid weeks. I feel like something is wrong with me.”
“The cards come,” she said. “I just play the cards as they come. This isn’t fun for me either, you know.”
I snorted, embarrassingly close to tears. After she left, I went to my best friend, my trusty Oxford English Dictionary.
Luck. The action or effect of casual or uncontrollable events affecting (favorably or unfavorably) a person’s interests or circumstances: a person’s apparent tendency to have good or ill fortune: the imagined tendency of chance to bring a succession of (favourable or unfavourable) events. Italics are mine.
I grabbed the deck of cards and stomped out the door and down the street to a quiet little park and parked my posterior beneath a banyon tree. Making sure nobody could hear me, I growled to the deck, fingering each card, “Listen up, you flippity pieces of cardboard. I feel like you hate me. For pity’s sake, you are inanimate. You have no power. You can’t do this to me. But if you don’t turn the tables and begin shuffling my way, I’m tossing you in the trash, one torn and tattered card at a time. Got that?”
I didn’t wait for an answer. But the following morning, I won the game. A hard-won contest, card for card battle to the finish. Lucky me.
HDN: Looking out my back door
October 9, 2010