I don’t know why I am remembering so much about my Dad these days. This is one anecdote that I am posting because it’s so typical of him and how he behaved.
When I was in high school, I was pretty much a wallflower, a nerd, a geek. In fact one of my best friends in school whom I knew from the 6th grade nicknamed me “braintube”. He still calls me that and I call him “Jimmie” to this day in our emails even though we are both grandparents.
Anyhow, it was the 60’s and my high school friends and I played bridge pretty seriously. At our parties on Friday nights during junior high school, a bunch of us would get together to play bridge. Our parents also played. My best friend, Martha, used to invite me over for sleepovers and her parents would play cribbage or gin rummy by themselves, and bridge when the two of us made a foursome. Sometimes Martha’s brother Joel would spell one of us off. Her parents chain-smoked like chimneys while we played.
My brother, D., is eight years younger than I am, so when I was a junior in college, he was still in junior high. But he played bridge too. One weekend, my parents invited some friends over for dinner. While we were waiting to eat, my Dad asked if anyone wanted to play a couple of hands of bridge with him and one of the guests. My brother and I were partners as we sat down opposite my Dad and his partner. That my father barely deigned to play with me and my brother was pretty obvious. But as the play went on, my brother and I were dealt a lucky hand of cards. We bid a small slam. My father looked at us as if we didn’t know what we were talking about. I saw two tricks that we could lose, one sure one, and one depending on who had the high card for a finesse.
Dad doubled the contract. My brother, who is no slouch at being strong-willed either, redoubled. For those of you who don’t play bridge, what that doubling and redoubling meant was that: a) my father basically challenged us that we did not have a prayer of making the small slam contract; and b) my brother’s redoubling was like saying, “oh yeah, just watch us.” If my father won his double and we lost the contract, his side would have gotten 50 more penalty points. If we did make the contract redoubled, then we would get 100 more points than we would have without all this macho challenging stuff going on.
You know what happened, right, or I wouldn’t be writing about it. My kid brother and I won the small slam contract. The crucial finesse worked to our advantage so we only lost one trick. We got the redoubled score. And my Dad, bless his heart, never played bridge with us again.