Family Game Night on the last night of camp for The Writer's Cramp. :)
|The last night at camp had a ceremony to it. Steaks grilled to perfection and smores over the fire. My dad playing guitar at the fireside while we all took turns making up silly refrains to a blues riff in E.
Then into the house for games. Any game to start with but at the end of the night my mother would send me on a very specific mission to the hallowed game shelf.
It was packed to almost overfilling, each game fitting in like a puzzle piece. I’d replace whatever else we’d been playing and I would carefully pull out the white and black Yahtzee box. An old, but still pristine copy from the late 70’s.
The family sat around the table, hushed and expectant. I handed the box to my mother. She would place the box on the table and slowly pull off the lid. I’d reach over to run my fingers over the mock velvet casing. Each piece had its place, the sacredness of the game was never tainted by something as arbitrary as putting the pens back the wrong way up.
No one knew how such reverence came to be placed on this game more than the others. No one really knew why mom liked it so much. She’s wasn’t a lucky woman. She got one Yahtzee for every three of mine. Often less.
The reverent silence stretched while everyone got a sheet of paper, while we all got a pen. Four of each for four of us. Mom, Dad , me and Emily.
My mom looked at each of us in turn and then, with all due solemnity, she would pluck out the cup and neatly drop the dice in. She shook, the dice cracking off of the sides of the cup and with that the hushed silence was broken for the rest of the night. Forgotten in a whirlwind of numbers and logic and luck.
We played all six games through and by the last game it didn’t matter who was winning. Nothing mattered except trying to work together to get lady luck to grant my mother just one Yahtzee.
Each time her turn came, each time she had four of a kind, we all shouted and pounded the table, all of us hoping in our own ways. It was down to brass tacks here at the end. Mom had used up her chance section in a disastrous attempt to get her yahtzee with ones. She had crossed out her small straight and her large straight slots. It was now or never.
She shook the cup of dice, gently. More gently than she had all night, the dice sliding across the bottom rather than bouncing. She turned the cup upside down on the table and pulled it up to reveal her die.
Three fives. A one and a two.
She quickly swiped the odd ones out and threw them back into the cup. A shake and a reverse and . . . A one and a two again.
We all groaned. All of us but my mother. She smiled a small smile and dumped those two offending dice back into the cup.
A shake, an upended cup. She didn’t lift it. She paused for dramatic effect.
We all erupted into wild cheering and laughter. After that, we didn’t even bother to add up the score. My mom was clearly the winner no matter what.
Later when I was getting ready to sleep, after the game had been carefully tucked away and we had all gone to our separate rooms I heard my dad ask my mom how she’d managed to pull a Yahtzee at the very last moment like that.
She said, “Haven’t you heard?”
And she started singing Santana’s Black Magic Woman, changing the words to from she to I. “I’m a black magic woman. I’ve got my spell on you, baby.”
My dad’s rich quiet laughter followed her as he started softly plucking the tune out on his guitar.
I fell asleep thinking that maybe my mom and us were lucky for more than just rolls of the dice. We all had each other.