Playing a six card hand of All Fours on Christmas Night I found myself down to three cards holding the King, the Ace having already been played by someone else and I, suspecting that the Jack was in the game, was paying close attention.
I was sitting there 'cocked' as it were, focused and waiting to be served up my prey (so sure was I that it was dead i began looking around for an empty bottle on which to hoist its carcass) when my partner, anxious for points, begged me by his mute excited antics to take the two tens on the board facing me, so sure was HE that Jack 'slept' and we should play for 'game.'
Now, I am a master All Fours player all humility aside, but I, being the compliant partner that I was (it being Christmas Night after all), took the two tens with some measure of satisfaction on my partner's part, only to see the Jack 'in my face' on the next play, not only escaping its 'date with destiny,' but taking the game point with the remaining two tens as well, if only to add stinging insult to inglorious injury.
The silence before the eruption was long and drawn out as it became clear to everyone what just happened.
A lesser man may have lunged over that table, killed his partner with his bare hands and used his skin to make a belt, a pair of shoes and a backpack; but I, being the good and decent fellow that I was (it being Christmas Night after all) chose to sit and stew with my pained painted on smile for the taunts at the obligatory post-mortem by those gathered around the game, grudgingly but politely agreeing with all the pundits that I did indeed play 'a bag of ass' (the term used to refer to my earlier 'decision').
Needless to say my partner's advice was ignored from then on and, in quick time the match pile on the other side become fourteen to our nine; we vacated our seats to the raucous, enthusiastic encouragement from the victors as well as the rather impolite suggestions of our replacements, they anxious to demonstrate to one and all how the game was REALLY played and we required to vacate without turning over the table (according to the rules of the game), it being Christmas Night after all.
Making my way over to the bar to irrigate my sorrows and recover from the humiliating defeat, I found myself thinking about the impact we have on each other by our smallest decisions or suggestions, the ripples we make in the collective pond.
The idea that we are so interconnected it is rare for an action on one person's part to not affect someone else's life, or, as the chaos theory says, a butterfly flapping its wings over Mexico today will cause a tornado over China four thousand years from now.
The Chinese are apparently upset over this and there are talks under way to deal with the errant Mexican butterflies now before trade and other wars erupt in the future.
Mulling over these diametrically opposite premises yet ironically parallel ideas as I poured myself a drink of good Scotch that was aging before I was born, i looked up to see my partner merrily calling me over to the scene of the former crime to replace our replacements who apparently did not have the required skill to match all 'their mouth,' their game ending fourteen one.
The game of All Fours requires equal amounts of both talk and skill and I, eager to rejoin the fray, ambled over to the table drink in hand, smile on face, anxious to be vindicated as a true 'cards-smith.'
Putting aside my earlier thoughts for another time, I knew there would be other nights to mull over the Mexican Chinese issue, of beating butterfly wings and terrible tornados.
Tonight was not the night for that though, it being Christmas Night after all.
First Jack deal?