mad in pursuit memoir notebook

DISPATCHED FROM THE intersection of yesterday and forever

Why I Hate Card Games

When I was a college freshman, we'd put off our school work by sitting on the dorm room floor playing 500 Rummy. Good for killing a few hours now and then.

Fast forward to summer. The high point of my young life: a trip to Spain! What an amazing country. There were about 10 of us in a group of young women, plus a priest. Led by one of my favorite nuns Sr. K, who had first inspired me with Spanish in high school before she got reassigned to Mundelein. The itinerary involved 4 weeks of touring in a small bus, then two weeks of intensive summer school in Santander, a resort town on the north coast.

Spain was magical in many ways, including the fact that young men were interested in me and I was learning how to flirt back. The world felt so safe there.

But here's the rub: the group broke into two social circles and I somehow got stuck on the wrong side of the divide. The fun girls (including the Jesuit) partied, partied, partied. For my roommate, I was assigned a young nun, Sr. Pat, who was about 3 years older than me. This meant that we wound up hanging out with Sr. K and her friend Tina.

It was all really okay till we got to our last two weeks. Santander was so perfect, with its beaches and sidewalk cafes and quaint streets. The party girls partied and I guess they figured I was a junior nun or something or maybe they partied too much and I pulled back. Anyway, during the glorious Santander evenings, our foursome retired to K and Tina's boarding house room and played 500 Rummy. I was only 19 and didn't know how to say "Come on, you guys, let's live!" I just gritted my teeth and played the damn card game hour after hour, night after night. The newspapers told me that the world was going to hell outside our enclave: Russia was rolling tanks into Czechoslovakia and the Chicago police were beating the hell out of hippies at the 1968 Democratic Convention. And the summer ended.

When I got back to the dorm that fall, someone pulled out a deck of cards and the old routine began. I announced that I was NEVER going to play another stupid card game. There was LIFE to be LIVED!!! Then of course I went back to my literature and language books -- maybe not exactly LIFE, but closer than Rummy was.