I belong to a meet-up  group that meets to play a different game each week; it’s very informal.  I post the time, place and game on the meet-up site, people rsvp and I go to the appointed place at the appointed time (game in hand) to see who shows up.  There could be as few as three people or  as many as  eight. We play rummy cubes or Mexican train dominoes, drink coffee  and eat pastries   It’s all very casual, friendly and informal.  No one cares or  even asks about what kind of work  anyone does or where they live, no one shows pictures of children or grandchildren or pets, no one talks about vacations or health problems; we exchange first names and we play. Period.    I might wonder about the guy with the tattoos up and down his arms or the woman who absolutely refuses to  even consider playing  for money (not that I or anyone else want to,  but why is she is vehement about it?)   or the couple who are obviously together but always arrive in separate cars.  but I don’t ask and neither do they.  Our conversation is limited to the rules of the game and discussions about said game.  We talk and laugh and congratulate the winners and bicker a little bit about possible moves.

“Are you sure that’s legal?” ) a questionable move in dominoes) and  “could you possibly play a little faster?” to a newcomer who seems to go into a trance when it’s her turn in rummy cubes. “Come on,” I want to say as she sits staring at her board, “either you have twenty-six points or you don’t; it’s not rocket science.

. The games  are challenging (but not too much) and competitive (but not too much) and most important, fun. We play for two to three hours and then say “good-might, see you next time” and go our separate ways.

In another life I played bridge but my heart wasn’t in it. It’s too serious, too intense, too scary.   My late husband was the expert bridge player and I had to promise, when we got married, that I would learn the game. If he could have, he would have put  that condition into the wedding ceremony.”I promise to love , honor and  learn to play bridge.”  I did manage to play a passable game  but I was never what you would call good at it.  I once committed the unpardonable sin of opening with a four card minor suit!   If you don’t play bridge I will tell you that  is a very bad thing to do.

My bf Mitch likes games too. We can play Spit (a sort of frantic form of double solitaire) for hours and when we  get tired of that we switch to Jenga or Sequence and our latest favorite, Bananagrams.   We like to have company for dinner and then finish the evening with a game or even a puzzle.  We have these really challenging puzzles.           “There are only twelve pieces, nothing to it , give it a try” we tell our guests and then sit back and watch while they struggle.  For the record, we can’t complete one of them either even with the hints  on the puzzle’s website.

I  sometimes play mahjong but I’m not in a regular game and I love scrabble  especially since I’ve learned some great two letter words like za(pizza) or ai (a three-toed sloth) or Jo (sweetheart) or qi ( i haven’t any idea what it means but it’s legal) If there is no one else around, I play  hearts and solitaire ( I confess that I sometimes cheat a little)  on the computer. I recently went to a brunch and we played Pictionary, remember that? and we laughed  at what really bad artists we are.  My grandson came to visit last month and he challenged me to a game of Monopoly.  “I never lose”  he said but he did.  Guess who won?  He was impressed.

There are so many games to play; games I can’t seem to master like backgammon or chess, old standards like checkers or bingo, gin  rummy or Scattagories,   games l’ve forgotten how to play like canasta (does anyone remember the rules?) and even games that don’t require a board like “In my grandmother’s attic i found…. In case you don’t know the game, what you do is take turns going  thru the alphabet one letter at a time  starting  with A (I found apples). Each person has to repeat the list each time   and add the next one.   This  is a great game for memory skills and for when you are on a road trip and have run out of conversation.

So, back to game night. When I arrive there are two women and a man  waiting and  another couple walks over to our table.

.  “Hi, I’m Barbara ”

“I’m Diane,”

“I’m Ray.” Let’s start the game.”