Rummikub Drama

So, this is what retirement has come to. The calmness of no schedules to keep, no meetings to run to, has been partially filled with the excitement and intrigue of my two, not one but two, Rummikub games.

And how come I’m having so much fun with these two groups that are different and similar in such interesting ways. Game playing often reveals interesting bits of personality and differing levels of competitiveness. And while there are hints of both personality and competitiveness, what’s more important is that we just want to have fun.

For those who may not know, and you are few, the game is like rummy but with tiles instead of cards. Players try to make runs and three of a kind match ups. Numbered tiles in four colors are drawn and played until someone goes out. There’s lots of playing on the tiles of others; and sometimes the only chance to get rid of that difficult tile is to wait and hope for that perfect spot.

One of my groups is in the building where I live. So, it’s made up of people I’ve known for just a short time. Let’s call it John’s group because we call him our Rummikub guru. He’s got the rules down pat and holds everyone accountable.  And let’s call the second one Betty’s group because it’s at her house. This one is made up of girlfriends I went to Door County with for many years.

Betty calls her gathering Afternoon Delight, emphasizing there’s no sex involved. She’s pretty lax with the rules though she teases anyone taking too long to play: don’t’ make me get that timer! John’s group can be up to eight people. It just depends on who shows up and we often have two boards going. Betty’s group is strictly kept at four. Each involves food, of course, with both focusing on an equally small amount of preparation. That means snacks.

I laugh when I wonder what would happen if John and Betty sat down to a game. John is very certain about having all the groups of tiles laid down in a neat and precise row, numbers in ascending order of course. As new tiles are played, John jumps in, swooshing tiles around the table in an ice skating kind of action to maintain his perfect order.

With Betty, we continue playing for second and third place. With John, we keep score. Not with Betty. Betty’s quirk is that the tiles of each group must line up next to each other perfectly. No space between. No tile off-center. I wonder who’d win the war of the tiles. My money is on John.

Both groups have differing types of conversation. One of the great things about this game is that you don’t have to think hard and that leads to lots of chatter. Some people talk constantly and others not so much as they stare furtively at their tiles.

Betty’s group is all women which leads to more intimate talk. We recently had a long and revealing discussion about how often we have a day when we don’t get dressed. Then we confessed our varying degrees of acceptance on how many days you can go without a shower or doing your hair. Revealing stuff.

John’s group begins at 4:30 and ends at 7:00. On the dot. With Betty, we play until we no longer want to. Last game began at 1:00 and ended at 6:30. And it was only the coming rainstorm and the impending darkness that stopped us. Also, how many more beers did Betty want; since we were at her house she made good use of not needing a designated driver.

There are many web postings about how to pronounce the name of this popular game. Some call it rumi like the poet or rummy like the card game. Some say cube as in ice or cub as in bear. Most popular is rummy like the card game and cube as in cube. There are multiple web sites including Wikipedia that discuss this very important dilemma. No answer is definitive.

Rummikub, however you choose to say it, was invented by Ephraim Hertzano, a Romanian-born Jew, in the early 1930s. It was hand-made for his family to play in their backyard He sold sets door-to-door and on a consignment basis at small shops. It went from being Israel’s biggest exported game to the bestselling one in the United States in 1977.

So much for its interesting history and the naming controversy. I’m just grateful for this not too complicated pastime; it gives me an opportunity to keep my brain active while enjoying the company of like-minded people. Now, it’s time for true confessions. Call me crazy but I also have an infrequent and impromptu Rummikub game with Kathy, another resident in my building. I guess I’m addicted!




In my twenties, no one told me
that one day,
I wouldn’t be able to sleep through the night.

In my thirties no one told me
that one day,
I’d no longer be able to walk five miles each afternoon.

In my forties no one told me
that one day,|
I’d be dealing with one chronic illness or another.

In my fifties, no one told me
that one day,
my recall would be too slow to perform well at Jeopardy.

In my sixties, no one told me
that one day,
my main topic of  conversation would be doctors and  medication.

In my seventies, now I‘m anxiously awaiting to see
what else I haven’t been  told.



Corky and Bea (an acrostic)

An exercise of an acrostic done at Write by the Lake poetry class, June 2016

Corky was a cop and that should explain a lot. He proudly said he ran a tight ship and
order ruled the day.  Certain mantras guided his life.
Respect your elders; children should be seen and not heard.  It was easy to
know where you stood with  Corky every day.
Young, so very young, Corky and Bea’s married after a two month courtship then
a two year WWII separation leading  to two  strangers locked in daily  arguments
Never having lived as a couple before children, no shock when after 45 years Bea wanted a
divorce. Corky said go ahead.  I‘m not going to change.  This is all your fault.
Bea has a mind of her own he said. She lost her nerve and they settled into an uneasy truce.
Equal rights were unknown in those good old days.
After 63 years, one thing was clear: they’d have been happier married to someone else.


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