,NYDGLNJ Dn DOO-WRPHN FDUG JDPH LV nr ELJ GHDO

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Play­ing cards is fun. I quite en­joy it. But be­ing the only PDn DW D FDUG JDPH wLWK fiYH other women … well, that could be chal­leng­ing if not han­dled tact­fully.

And some­times, tact is not my strong suit. Know­ing that, it was with some trep­i­da­tion that on our re­cent YDFDWLRn GRwn WKH VKRUH, , sat down to play cards at a ta­ble full of forty-some­thing women.

These were long­time pals of The Blonde Ac­coun­tant, a few of her run­ning bud­dies from when they were all 20-some­things and spend­ing sum­mers in Sea Isle City. Back then, I was spend­ing my sum­mers in Iowa and ,OOLnRLV FRUn­fiHOGV DnG JLYHn what I know now, I’m pretty sure life in Sea Isle City in the 1980s was a lot more fun and in­ter­est­ing than it was in East Jablip, Iowa.

These days, some of the wRPHn DUH wLYHV, VRPH DUH moms and some are sin­gle moms. It was a week­end away from the real world of jobs, men­folk and kids, a chance to lie on the beach dur­ing the lazy sum­mer days and then blow off some steam dur­ing the breezy sum­mer nights by in­dulging in two pop­u­lar VKRUH DFWLYLWLHV — thor­oughly LnYHVWLJDWLnJ the won­ders of FROG DGuOW EHYer­ages and play­ing a card game with an ob­scene name that can’t be printed in a fam­ily news­pa­per.

Of course, as the only man in the card JDPH, , PDy DV wHOO KDYH just painted a big bull’s eye on my fore­head. My fiUVW WKRuJKW RnFH wH VDW down to deal the cards was WR VWRS, GURS DnG UROO. , fiJuUHG , GLGn’W KDYH PuFK RI D FKDnFH RI VuUYLYLnJ, PuFK less win­ning a hand or two.

BuW LI LW’V DnyWKLnJ ,’YH learned as a long­time mem­ber of the Stupid Man’s Club, it’s that when in a card game, just shut up and play cards.

The name of the card game it­self is a one-word les­son in anatomy that of­ten­times is a syn­onym for the word “jerk,” as in “That guy is a real [jerk].” For the pur­poses of this dis­cusVLRn, KRwHYHU, wH will call the game “Go­pher­hole.”

The ob­ject of the game is to get rid of one’s cards. It re­minded me a lot of the game UNO. But this game has the added at­trac­tion of creDWLYH nDPLnJ FRnYHnWLRnV and mu­si­cal chairs. And, of course, there is some drinkLnJ LnYROYHG.

The win­ner of each hand LV FDOOHG VRPHWKLnJ ,’YH DOready for­got­ten, so we’ll call it “Grand Poohbah.” The per­son who gets rid of all her cards next is the “As­sis­tant Grand Poohbah.” The per­son who gets rid of her cards sec­ond to last is the “As- sis­tant Go­pher­hole” and the last per­son hold­ing a card is the “Go­pher­hole.”

One’s or­der in get­ting rid of cards de­ter­mines where one sits for the next hand, hence the mu­si­cal chairs por­tion of the game. And so it goes.

For­tu­nately for me, the women seemed con­tent enough to al­low me a seat at the ta­ble, as long as I kept UHODWLYHOy TuLHW. AV D IRUPDOOy WUDLnHG REVHUYHU, , FDn on oc­ca­sion keep my piehole closed long enough to ac­tuDOOy REVHUYH VRPHWKLnJ. AnG here is what I learned about play­ing cards with a group of women:

• 7KHy DUH SUHWWy KDUG Rn WKHPVHOYHV DERuW KRw WKHy look at this stage of their OLYHV, DnG IUDnNOy, WKHy DUH EHLnJ unIDLU WR WKHPVHOYHV. They all looked fab­u­lous, just like they did when they were about 28 years old. I made sure to stay out of the crosshairs on that one when the op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self by say­ing, “vou all look fab­u­lous, just like you did when you were 25.” (Al­though I didn’t ex­actly ad­here to the “Mike Needs to Just Shut Up Rule,” I did cut three more years off the age com­ment just to be safe.)

• SDOWy ODnJuDJH LV nRW H[FOuVLYHOy OLPLWHG WR PHn’V FDUG JDPHV. /LVWHn, ,’YH some­times got more salt in my lan­guage than there is in the At­lantic Ocean, so I am fa­mil­iar with the words. But I am not ex­ag­ger­at­ing when I say the lan­guage used in WKLV FDUG JDPH wRuOG KDYH made sailors, truckers and pi­rates blush. I will add, KRwHYHU, WKDW wKHn SODyLnJ cards, women seem to spit and scratch a whole lot less than men do, which I think is prob­a­bly a good thing.

• PDyLnJ DWWHnWLRn WR WKH card game and not to the FROG DGuOW EHYHUDJHV LV Dn HIIHFWLYH wDy WR VWDy RuW of the Go­pher­hole chair — which is ex­actly what I did DOO HYHnLnJ. ,n IDFW, , GLGn’W lose a hand the en­tire time, WKuV , GLGn’W KDYH WR VwLWFK chairs. Not once. Hey, I’m D FRPSHWLWLYH Juy wKHn LW comes to card play­ing. I GRn’W EHOLHYH WKH wRPHn re­al­ized this un­til it was time for The Blonde AcFRunWDnW DnG PH WR OHDYH. And rats, I wish I could KDYH WKH VDPH NLnG RI wLn­ning luck at the casi­nos in At­lantic City, where there LV DFWuDO PRnHy LnYROYHG.

But it was a fun and en­terWDLnLnJ HYHnLnJ DnG , TuLWH en­joyed play­ing cards with the Friends of TBA. It’s a good group and I hope we get to play more cards on our nH[W VKRUH YDFDWLRn.

At the risk of sound­ing too much like a go­pher­hole, I SODn Rn wLn­nLnJ HYHUy KDnG the next time, too. Deal the cards, ladies.

Mike Morsch is ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor of Mont­gomery News­pa­pers and au­thor of the book, “Danc­ing in My Un­der­wear: The Sound­track of My Life.” He can be reached by call­ing 215-5420200, ext. 415, or by email at msquared35@ya­hoo.com. This col­umn can be found at www.mont­gomerynews.com.

Outta Left­field Mike Morsch

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