There is sometimes great profundity in the most mundane tasks. For example, last night I played a game of Solitaire.
I grew up in a family of card players and was a bit of a prodigy. One family story has it that at a parent-teacher conference, my mother was told, "Steve's a very bright boy. But it really doesn't matter in Kindergarten that a Jack is higher than a 10." We played Canasta and my hands were too small to hold all the cards, so I would spread them out on another chair under the table. I won fairly often; as the years passed, the games we would play would be the ones I didn't win all the time. Now, at family get-togethers, we eat and we play cards, always the games I don't do well, though I'm the only one who remembers that that was how the games evolved.
We had family dinners where no distractions were permitted, with one very notable exception: my mother would leave the radio on to hear the end of Minnesota Twins baseball games. To this day, I believe I could tell the difference in sound between Harmon Killebrew hitting a ball and anyone else. Meals got earlier by decade; first, my mother would listen to games while washing dishes and then, after. She would pass the time by playing solitaire while listening. As Alzheimer's ravaged her brain, she needed more and more help playing and eventually she ended up just watching me play her games for her. It became a ritual; one of the signs that her bedtime was approaching was that I'd be playing Solitaire. In the last stages of the disease, it no longer mattered what I did, day and night were the same to her, and I stopped playing.
Four years later, I felt like playing again, picked up a deck of cards and played Solitaire.
I used to write. When I was about 25, I burned everything I had written and put down my pen (yes, the dark ages before I had a computer on which to type). I met Lori when I was 33 and she was one of those rare creatures who read poetry; she knew I used to write poems for early girlfriends and I told her that she was too sophisticated to be fooled by childish scribblings. I'm thinking of writing again.
I Never Wrote Her Poetry
We were each others' second choices
And I for one had profited by trade
So I accepted presents of too too-large shirts
And meals of unknown favorite foods
For she only called me the wrong name once
When angry, not in joy
And surprised me that she was still angry
That he had left so soon
And now that she too has gone away
There are no more presents
And no third choices
Just third acts without rhyme or reason.
5 days ago