Monday, April 26, 2004

Weekends up north with the in-laws sometimes involve gambling. It's usually a simple card game or a throw of the dice deciding the gain or loss of a few quarters, dimes and nickels. Judy, my mother-in-law, kindly collects the pocket change I subconsciously leave lying around her house during our visits. She knows Deb and I will need all the silver we can get our hands on so that we are able to stay at her kitchen table for more than a couple of rounds.

Gambling at Glenn and Judy's kitchen table is loud. Six, seven, sometimes eight people all with nice, pink, smoke-free, lungs involuntarily shrieking over how the dice turn up. Not to mention the fact that these people don't merely toss dice. They slam a leather clad cup on the table as if they could actually muscle the black and white cubes into doing what they want them to do. This is no effete exercise in recreational gaming. For these people, gambling with family is a visceral affair that demands fist slamming, arm waving, grimacing, grinning, belly laughs and screams of rage or delight.

Last weekend was a record breaker. My brother-in-law, Mike, had previously held the distinction of taking home the largest pot of dough ever won in Glenn and Judy's kitchen: $40. This time it was Deb that raked in the mother lode by taking $54 (or something like that) away from her family.

It was Deb's sister Pam's fault the pot got so large. She suggested we play for dollars rather than the customary quarters Michigan Rummy requires. And as the pot got bigger and bigger the room got louder and louder. Allie tried to stay in the kitchen with us but kept leaving with her fingers in her ears. "You guys are scaring me," she said.

This is a good thing. I didn't want Allie in the room with the adults. I kept suggesting that she would have a better time in the living room but she wanted to see what all the noise was about. I couldn't blame her. However I wasn't too keen on her seeing her mother and father get a little nuts over a big pile of bills in the middle of her grandma's kitchen table. When she sees her friend Maddie this weekend I half expect to find them upstairs shooting dice for Barbie clothes.

That didn't stop me from playing side game of dice with my daughter. We rolled dice for a couple of dollar bills that we would borrow from one another to play another game after losing. Once again my sense of "what not to teach your kid" was twitching but she was having fun and insisted that we continue to roll the dice. I should tell you, we weren't just acting like we were gambling. Allie understood the rules and looked to the dice and not me to tell her when she had lost or won.

I'm guessing she's going to have ton of new Barbie clothes come Friday night.

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