Lokkal- todo SMA
The Old Farts' Gin Game

by Gray Wolf

Dad was proud of me, proud of my success, my vocation, my character. Most of all he was proud of my gin game.
I remember that when I was a young boy, Dad spent his afternoons playing gin rummy with his friends in a rented room at the faux-Polynesian Aku Aku Motel on Monroe Street, chosen primarily for its cheap weekly rate and bar with room service. I also remember Mom explaining to me that, in her marriage with my dad, she could have competed with another woman, but that she couldn’t compete with the two mistresses – golf and gin rummy.

When I was eight years old, Dad taught me the rules of gin rummy. He taught me Hollywood scoring, the eleven-ten deal, the sporting house cut, and the philosophy: Those who gin, win some. But those who win, only gin some. For the next thirty-one years my relationship with my dad would develop intimately at the kitchen table over numerous rubbers of gin rummy.
After college, I would return north for summer visits to my family’s lake cottage in Michigan, and again, every Thanksgiving to Mom and Dad’s winter home in Florida. Our first rubber of gin would begin after finishing our breakfast, the morning newspaper, and a pot of Gevalia coffee. Our last rubber would often end just in time to shower and go out to dinner. Though we played for high stakes, a penny per point, no more than a few dollars ever changed hands at the end of my visits. He was my teacher, my opponent, my equal at gin. He was my dad.

Many years had passed when Mom and Dad finally sold both our family home in Toledo and the lake cottage in Michigan and retired year-round to their home in Florida. I remember getting a call from Dad: “Hey, Wolf – when ‘ya comin’ down? I’ve got a group of old farts I play gin rummy with at the club on Wednesdays. They wanna’ meet ya’. Bring plenty of money. They’re sharks at gin!”

So it came to pass that Dad and I would arrive to the Crescent Oaks clubhouse on Wednesday morning for the weekly Old Fart’s Gin game. We arrived to be greeted by the club manager. “Good morning, Arliss! The guys are waiting on you. I hope you brought plenty of money!” We wound through the empty men’s locker room and into the private game room. The aroma of coffee and sweet rolls transcended the shuffle of cards and weekly health updates. Tables had been arranged for team play. I was their guest in this holy of holies because I was Arliss’ son. After introduction to the two Charlie’s, Gil, Bert, Max, and Nate (with his walker and attached oxygen tank), cards were pulled, teams

established and seated, then play began. The play was fast and strong with idle talk only tolerated for a few moments between hands. Most of these guys had spent their lives in the Northeast as power-brokers making cut-throat business deals. Now they had come to retire in Florida and humbly create their final community with each other on the golf course and over rubbers of gin rummy. After an hour of play one of the Charlies asked, “You need a break, Nate?” Nate adjusted his oxygen tubes and nodded yes. Charlie got up, walked over

to help Nate stand up and - like two elderly sisters walking affectionately arm in arm - made a slow and gentle journey to the bathroom. Nate could barely walk and struggled to breathe, but with his winning play complete for the day, he stuffed his earnings in his pocket with a confident grin of victory. Playing gin at the club on Wednesday mornings kept Nate alive; it gave him something to look forward to each week. Nonetheless, his love of a Hollywood rubber and a double schnichter couldn’t keep him from his inevitable grave. My next visit to the Old Farts would find Nate’s seat empty and the guys dedicating the day’s game to him. Amid the aroma of coffee and sweet rolls, after the weekly health updates, with cards shuffled and cut – once again, play began.

Today, many senior expats living in San Miguel are creating their final community over rubbers of Bridge at the Duplicate Center. Another group of expats can be found playing Backgammon at Jardin Rama. Myself? You can find me playing rubbers of Gin and Backgammon in the Café at Instituto Allende. I was born into a gaming family and have been gaming ever since. I assure you: I shall be gaming until I take my last breath and make my transition to that great gameboard in the sky.

In memory of Arliss Wales,
a good father, a great gin partner.


Gray Wolf holds a B.S. in pre-medicine from Lipscomb University; is certified in traditional massage therapy from the Florida School of Massage; is certified in Ericsonian Hypnotherapy from the Institute of Integrative Healing Arts; is an initiated Reiki master; is a graduate of the Stillpoint School for Spiritual Direction; an initiated neo-shaman (International Foundation for Shamanic Studies) and initiated shaman (Lakota tradition). Gray Wolf currently resides and practices in San Miguel de Allende.

Gray Wolf Healing

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