I am in a coffee shop. I’m trying to get some work done, tapping away on my laptop. The two old women behind me are playing cards, talking louder than jayvee football coaches at football camp.
It’s impossible to get anything done with their noisy conversation.
“So how do you like your new phone?” bellows one old lady.
“I love it,” shouts her friend. “It’s just like my old phone, but this one’s gray.”
“That’s nice. My phone is gray, too.”
“I like gray.”
“Gray is a good color.”
“It really is a good color.”
“I like gray better than mauve.”
“My couch is mauve.”
“Mine was, too. But now my couch is gray.”
The two women are playing rummy.
It’s funny, you don’t see many people playing rummy anymore. I find myself distracted by their game because, you might not know this, but for many years I was international grand rummy champion. I could not be beat.
I first learned how to play the game when I was in third grade. I used to attend a daycare because my mother
and father both had full-time jobs.
I lived at that daycare center. I ate suppers there. I slept there when my parents worked nightshifts sometimes.
The woman who presided over the whole place was an elderly lady named Miss Pat, who smoked Virginia Slims and had a voice like an eight-cylinder diesel engine.
She was a large woman with a great bosom, hard eyes, and white-blond hair that looked like it had been treated with industrial-strength Clorox.
Miss Pat did not have a reputation for being a friendly woman. Children were terrified of her. Rumor was that she had once killed a boy for sticking bubblegum beneath his chair. Word on the playground was that she ended his life with a stapler. His remains were never found.
But by some warped stroke of fate, Miss Pat adored…