Bridge, the game of cards, is not for the faint of heart. I know this because I once tried my hand at the game. It’s complicated, exasperating and mentally demanding. Bridge is like work, only worse, because you don’t get paid and you can actually lose money. I never played bridge without going home with a migraine. Still, a lot of folks around here think it’s a fun way to spend a few hours with friends. Me, I’d rather wax the car, but maybe I’m just jealous of those smart people who can tolerate it.
My wife, on the other hand, is pretty much addicted. She plays several times a week with different groups. There is one group, a certain clique of ladies who, along with Joan, will take a three- to four-day “bridge trip” to some remote, resorty place. It’s nonstop bridge at St. Simons or Lake Lanier or Destin. It’s bridge in the morning, bridge in the afternoon and bridge in the evening before bedtime. They pause for breakfast, lunch, cocktails and dinner. Cards and food, but mostly cards.
Joan came home yesterday from such a trip to Savannah. She looked like she’d been dragged through the Marshes of Glynn. Totally frazzled, she teetered into the house slump-shouldered, glassy-eyed, physically exhausted, mentally out-of-it altogether. A bridge hangover. I could tell she’d had fun.
I welcomed her, “Hi, honey. You have a good time?”
“Did you have a good time?” I repeated. “You know, bridge.”
“Bridge, oh. Uh.”
“Good,” I said. “Did you win?”
She mumbled, “I won a dollar.”
“Oh, nice,” I said. If you know anything about bridge, a dollar means you lost. It’s like a consolation-consolation prize.
Towing her rolling suitcase, she lumbered down the hall to the bedroom, eager to unplug. I said to her, “Dear, before you unwind, you have a message on the answering machine. It’s from Bonnie about bridge. Better listen to it, sounds important.”
“Who’s Bonnie?” Joan asked.
“Bonnie, from your other bridge group.”
“Oh, Bonnie. Sure, righty-o.” Joan was in La La land. She padded back down the hall to the kitchen nook and pressed the “play” button.
Recording: “Joan, hi, it’s Bonnie from the Thursday bridge group. Listen …”
Joan: “Oh, hi, Bonnie. How are you?”
Recording: “… I know you sent an email to everyone about bridge next week…”
Joan: “Yes, I sure did. Did you get it?”
Recording: “Well, somehow, I’ve lost that email and I don’t remember what time …”
Joan: “Oh, no problem, I’ll just send it right away. What’s your email address again?”
Overhearing this conversation between Joan and the day-old recording, I jumped in. “Joan! Joan, it’s a recording, honey. You’re not actually talking to Bonnie …”
Joan to me: “Shh! Shush! I can’t talk to two people at one time!”
Recording: “So if it’s not too much trouble, could you just give me a call?”
End of recording. Dial tone.
Joan: “Hello? Hello, Bonnie?”
Joan to me: “Well, the nerve of that woman! She hung up on me!”
I couldn’t help it. I started laughing so hard, I couldn’t breathe. Just couldn’t stop. Tears were rolling down my cheeks, my sides were burning. God, bless her, I thought. She’s a bridge basket case. She’s exhausted, but I don’t care. This is the funniest thing I’ve ever witnessed.
All the while, Joan was looking at me like I’d lost my mind. “What’s gotten into you?” she asked. “You're acting crazy.”
A few more minutes passed before I could gather a serious voice. “Honey, I’m sorry. But, maybe you’re overdoing the bridge thing, you know?”
“That’s ridiculous,” she replied. “Bridge keeps me mentally sharp.” And, with that she trudged to the bedroom muttering softly to herself, “Double, high card, double, transfer, dummy …”
Brent and Joan Carroll moved to Big Canoe in 2014. He is an avowed frustrated writer, recognized by mixed tenses, copious commas and run-on sentences. Still, he is widely published—in his own mind.