This evening we were playing cards (snap/beggar-my-neighbour – all the sophisticated games) and when the game was over I picked up the pack, shuffled and started playing patience. I did this without really thinking. Herself and Daniel have seen me play before but this time they seemed more interested and wanted to learn the rules (possibly because it was bed time). Then they played a game each, very slowly. I commented that the more you played the more likely you were to get it out. In the slightly sanctimonious middle-aged parent manner which I am perfecting, I told them: “When I was a child and at home sick from school, there were no electronic devices and there was no daytime television, so when I got tired of reading, I used to play patience. By the end of a couple of days, I almost always got it out all the time. It seems impossible when you don’t practice, but there it is.” They were suitably impressed and trooped off to bed, determined to work on their patience playing tomorrow.
After they went up, I said to Mr. Waffle, “Did you play patience when you were sick as a child?” “No,” he replied as I laid out the cards. This time it came out. As I was stacking the cards in the pile at the top, he asked “Is that it, will it definitely come out now?” “Of course, it will, you know that” I said. “Actually,” he said, “I’ve never played patience and don’t know how to play.”* I am astounded. How could he have kept this from me? Honestly, it’s like only discovering your husband never learnt to swim 15 years into your marriage. How can a child of the 70s have developed without extensive patience experience? He muttered something about lego. I played with lego too but, really, who didn’t play patience? I am shocked to the core of my being.
Can you play patience? Seriously, can’t everybody? Even Mr. Waffle can now.
*Note that we were a good hour and a bit playing patience with Mr. Waffle giving the impression that he knew all about it before he came clean. There is some moral about gender there, I feel. It reminds me of my mother’s story about how when she was going to study in Germany in the 50s (when Germany was where it was at in terms of chemistry), her professor of chemistry in Cork summoned her to his office and said, “Now, they’ll have a lot of equipment that we don’t have here, but you just don’t say anything and you’ll learn what it is and how to work it fast enough.”
My siblings and I all learnt patience, and chess, as fairly young children. My brother, who is more of an outdoors action man, plays spider solitaire on his computer to pass the time and has done for well over 10 years. My mother enjoyed spider solitaire too, and when she bought a lap top age 76, had me put a short cut on the desktop to stop ‘the computer hiding it from her.’
I used to play when I was a child – my mother taught me. She used to watch me play and clear her throat when there was a play I hadn’t seen. I have sometimes played on my iPad, but it’s too tempting to cheat. Playing with cards is more satisfying.
I wonder if people mean different things by ‘patience’? The game I remember doesn’t really have much to it, though you certainly do get a sense very quickly whether you’re going to be able to complete it. I’m with Mr W – lego was definitely better for getting you through to when the tv started again for the evening. I suppose the not wanting to admit to weakness must be a gender thing, as you say, though the foremost exponent I know, of either gender, is our Polish-British former colleague from Brussels. She must be pretty high on your list too, surely!
Thalie – it’s funny isn’t it? My 91 year old father has spent many happy hours playing patience on the ipad; I don’t think he would be able to deal the cards very readily any more so this is an excellent subsitute. Ellen, I think that he is too high minded to cheat, but I certainly wouldn’t be and prefer playing with cards.
Praxis, I was under the impression that that particular colleague DID know everything; what a startling and somehow distressing insight.