We’ve always been big fans of gaming. Not the online role-playing stuff, just good old-fashioned card- and boardgames. For me it’s the result of being an only child; I was a Solitaire phenomenon by the age of 6. David’s obsession with all things Settlers of Catan and Munchkin is harder to track. By the ages of 22 and 23, we would rather stay home and play games with my bestie Melinda than go out. Yes, some of that was out of necessity: we were poor grad-school students who couldn’t afford the $2 it would cost us to take the T into Boston, even if the concert in the Public Garden was free. But, yeah, most of it was simply our geekiness.
After being taught Canasta by my equally game-obsessed cousins, J. D. and Kate, David and I had a new addiction. The word Canasta conjures images of blue-haired ladies around a table in South America, right? Not for us.
Canasta was invented in the 1930s in Uraguay, and it made its way north to America during the next two decades. By the mid-1950s, it was a craze among 20- and 30-year-olds. My father remembers his parents dragging 4-year-old-him to his Aunt Cora and Uncle Joe’s house and playing Canasta until 3:00am. My grandparents were obsessed. They had a mother-of-pearl Canasta basket that has since departed the family, probably in a 1980s yard sale.
This new generation of Womack-family Canasta players considers the basket’s sale one of the great “tragedies” in our family history. We are stuck using poor plastic imitations. Tonight David and I are in fact going to J. D. and Kate’s to play Canasta. Last night we played with Melinda–and she trounced us.
Knowing us, we’ll be getting together with our dear friends, the Pittses, in the next few days to play Canasta until the wee hours while their adorable 2-yr-old plays with his own laminated Canasta cards until he passes out on our couch. I wonder if he’ll remember these late nights of watching his parents play as fondly as my father remembers watching his?