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Saturday, July 29, 2017

(4) I SLAPPED HIS BIG IRISH MITT.

February 4, 1962
     Ed and I haven't had a squabble in ages, but we had a good one in front of the Brewers. Typically, Sally couldn't think in terms of anything except slams. As she does with uncanny regularity, she was drawing hands of 17 to 22 points, while I was having my usual paltry holdings.
     My partner bid and lost two slams in a row, both of which I had to play, after mentioning a suit to keep the bidding open. While Ed joyfully marked down the second profit, Sally said she thought I would surely make that one.
     "I probably didn't play it very well," I murmured insincerely.
     "Yes you did, dear," Ed chortled. "It's just that Whitey and I play better."
     "Never mind, Barbara," Sally said, sorting her cards. "We've got 'em this time."
     She opened with a heart, I ventured two clubs and bang, we were in Blackwood again.
     "Five diamonds," I sighed. (One ace.)
     "Five no trump."
     I tried to pass, but no one would let me. "You can't pass," Whitey said. "It's a criminal offense."
     "All right. Six diamonds." (One king.)
     "Seven clubs," said Sally.
     Ed doubled. Sally looked up to see if he was serious, examined her hand again, then redoubled . Ed led, and my slam‑happy partner put down her cards. I didn't see how I could avoid losing at least two tricks. I took the first trick in the dummy, then studied my predicament. What did Sally think I was going to do about the missing ace? I started to draw a card from my hand, and Ed said, "From the dummy, please." There was something about his tone of voice that made me want to call my lawyer.
     "Why do you say it like that?"
     "I'm merely pointing out that you were about to lead from the wrong hand."
     "But why do you have to be so mean about it? Why didn't you say it nicely, like I think you're in the dummy, honey." From the corner of my eye I could see Sally looking at Whitey.
     "Because I don't feel nice; I'm in trouble."
     "You're in trouble! You mean, you're afraid I might make this? Well, cheer up, you have nothing to worry about."
     Perhaps I would be down only one if the kings were in the right place. Whitey hadn't said anything except "pass." Ed had doubled, and moreover, he was worried. I would finesse toward the dummy and hope he held the two missing kings.
     I led a small diamond, Ed played low, and Whitey blandly covered my queen with his king. Down one.
     "Good for you, Whitey!" Ed said. "Now if you just make the right lead -- "
     The big cheater was like a kid with a lollipop, lapping away in front of a kid who didn't have one.
     Whitey led a spade, Ed took it with his ace and led a low heart. I had no choice but to try the finesse, and again Whitey gave my queen the axe. Down three.
     "Attaboy!" Ed crowed.
     Bridge can do strange things to a sweet and gentle nature. As Ed was gleefully raking in the third trick, I smacked his big Irish mitt. A shocking way to behave, especially in front of company, but it would have been a lot more shocking if I'd shot him. Sally would still be on the telephone, and I'd be in jail, playing solitaire.
     "What was that for?" Ed asked.
     "That was for being such a mean, gloaty winner!"
     "He's not gloating," Sally said. "He's just a little bit pleased‑‑who wouldn't be?"
     "Not gloating? Look at his face! Look at that smile!"
     Ed hastily tried to arrange his features into something less incriminating. "Just look at him," I said. "If that isn't gloating, what is it?"
     "Now, Barbara," Whitey said, peering at me through his horn-rimmed spectacles, "you don't want to spoil the evening for the rest of us, do you?"
     "No," I said, blushing. "I'm sorry, I'll be good."
     But of course, this wasn’t the only occasion when I felt Ed needed some comeuppance. There was, for example, the time I pushed him off a dock. (See blog's Ed Boatguy, Part 4)

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