That is the way it begins. Last night I sat down to play bridge for the first time since 1967.
When I was a child, I played slap jack and go fish. Both are mindless games and they never held my interest. When I was 12 years old, my dad died and my mom and I moved to the huge city (20,000) of Odessa, Texas to live with my aunt and uncle.
My uncle was an engineer, who worked for Gulf Oil, and I thought he was one of the smartest men I had ever seen. My aunt was my mom’s sister and I am sure that the two of us moving into their house was a big burden, but they did and that was how I moved off of the Oklahoma farm.
My aunt and uncle introduced me to the card game called hearts. Now this was moving closer to a real card game. The more I played, the more competitive I became, but I could never beat my uncle.
My aunt and uncle played bridge once a week with some neighbors of theirs. I watched them play several times, but the game was too complicated for me to grasp. Still I was interested in the game because my uncle played it.
When I went to college, I started playing hearts again while we were waiting for the lunch line to open. With college students it was very cut throat and became a little more of a thinking game for me.
In November 1964, I graduated from college. I am the only person I know of that completed all of the requirements to graduate in the middle of a semester. I got a letter from the dean so that I could start looking for a job. I was hired by McDonnell Aircraft Company in St. Louis as a Loft Engineer.
The Loft department in McDonnell was the department that calculated the mathematical definition of the ship’s surface. In fact, that is where the term Lofting comes from. It was originally used for ships at sea and often, the lines of the ships were laid out in lofts in full scale. The point is, I was working with some pretty smart people. This was when I first heard those words, “We need a fourth”.
Working with several PHDs and others with Master’s degrees in mathematics, I was a little intimidated. No make that a lot intimidated. After watching them play bridge for a couple months during lunch and them telling me they needed a fourth and would I like to play, I felt pretty certain that I was making a mistake. None the less I agreed. I went out and bought a book and studied it.
Over the next few years, I played every now and then, playing my last game around 1967. I did play a couple of times in 1970, but had trouble finding a pardner and stopped.
So when I once again heard those words, “We need a fourth”, last week I felt a twinge of deja vu. The person looking for the fourth said it was just like riding a bicycle. You never forget. That is not true. Having sex is like riding a bicycle. You may not be able to peddle fast or for as long, but you still remember how to get onto the seat.
Playing bridge is more like balancing a checkbook and I have almost given up on balancing my checkbook.
I read a quick study guide on bridge fundamentals for a day and then found an online practice site. The online site convinced me that I was making a mistake.
Not being a quitter, I showed up on time, hoping that my apprehension was not too obvious. We played for about 2 ½ hours. I made the types of mistakes I expected to make. I can tell the old brain cells are not as fast or as strong as they used to be. I didn’t make a complete fool out of myself, and will try playing another time. I think with a little more practice I will be able to make a complete fool out of myself.
I may have already done that by writing this post. 🙂