I was born and raised in Indiana, the heart of the “Euchre Belt.” Along with understanding all things basketball and eating dinner plate-sized tenderloin sandwiches, I learned how to play euchre, right?
My father, a card-shark-turned-pastor, nixed cards. Even Old Maid made him uneasy. While friends learned to play euchre and that favorite pastime of the devil, poker, I grew up calling clubs “clovers.”
Instead, our default family activity consisted of singing around the piano.
Once, at an Indiana University summer music camp for high schoolers, I sowed the wildest of oats. My sort-of boyfriend, who also attended, volunteered to teach me euchre. He became my partner.
By evening’s end, he was crying. Why, I didn’t know. The clover issue bothered him. Also, I considered spades hearts too — pointy black hearts. He took that personally.
The relationship crashed.
Dad was right. Playing cards messed up your life.
Then, I met my dream guy: taller than me, with bigger feet and a cute smile. Like me, he enjoyed school. More important, he shared my Christian faith, as did his family.
Eventually, he invited me to his grandparents’ get-together.
I was ecstatic. Until everyone started playing heathen euchre.
Worse, no piano graced their living room.
How could this relationship survive?
Especially, as I learned his parents and grandparents played euchre every week. Grandma and Grandpa even gambled (gasp!), winning penny pots and cans of applesauce and beanee weenees.
My parents would want me to be polite. When my hosts insisted on teaching me euchre, I tried to learn.
Only now do I realize the extent of their kindness. Even Grandpa didn’t pounce on me — mostly because Grandma fixed a steely eye on him when I, his partner, trumped his aces.
Fortunately, my future husband was too in love to notice when I trumped his.
However, even he tired of waiting while I pondered various plays. He joined the others in extended coffee and bathroom breaks. Grandpa built a garage.
“With practice, you’ll do fine,” my sweet, future mother-in-law assured me.
She was right. After 25 years of marriage, I could play without anyone building garages.
Of course, our children caught on to the game as preschoolers. Their children also are fast learners.
When we play with friends, the card sharks my father warned me about, they can’t play plain euchre. No, we must bid and think high and low and upside down.
You mean the cards read the same upside down?
My euchre education continues.
Occasionally, even the friendliest card sharks lose patience with me. But the important relationship hasn’t crashed.
He still possesses a cute smile. And Hubby can sing around the piano, too.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What in-law tradition tripped (trips) you up?