The Benton League

Lilly taught me how to play canasta in high school.
Her mother taught her how to play.
Hence the Benton League.
I've taught friends to play,
and it breeds a sort of competitive spirit people didn't know they had.
I didn't know I had,
and have,
until I pick up those decks of cards.We used to play every Sunday under Lilly's lemon trees,
we'd bake brownies from a box,
and order crap pizza.
We'd sing songs and create rituals that we still perform to this day.
Like we used to always say, while shuffling 108 cards...
It's a nice day, for a clambake.

The rules are not so simple,
but once you know them
a whole world of strategy and thoughtfulness opens up.
No game is ever the same,
but you learn tricks, and how to spot certain things.
You begin to get a feeling for the deck,
and what's coming up,
and what your opponent is holding,
though you can never know,
and sometimes she'll surprise you
with a Sneaky Pete (a Benton League=ism)
and you're stuck with all the points in your hand.
Or sometimes you luck out,
and pick up a juicy pot
and sweep the score and the game's almost over.
Though there's always time for an upset.
Never the same game twice,
but a ritual that builds over time,
filled with meaning, and friendship,
creating a bond to another person that is unlike any other thing.
An innocence and a timeless well of creation and thought.
We are accused of being old ladies,
which we like.
So we started a club, O.L.I.T.
Old Ladies in Training.
We smoke a lot of cigarettes,
and drum our fingers,
sing opera and ignore phone calls.
The neighbors must think us mad.
But we care not.

1 comment:

Contributer said...

i really love this. ash