Itsy Bitsy Spider and the Old Maid
I've always loved "hanging out with the guys." When I was young, it was building forts, jumping bikes over homemade ramps in the desert and endless games of ‘smear the queer." I probably had the tightest spiral of any ten year old in the neighborhood when it came to handling a football. As I grew older, the games developed into hobbies like trap shooting, deep sea fishing, deer hunting and the weekly bowling night with the men.
It wasn't that I wanted to be a guy. No...it was more fun being THE woman hanging out with a bunch of guys. And it certainly beat the hell out of sitting at a Tupperware party or talking about little Johnny's potty training for the hundredth time. There was only one event, almost sacred, that I had not been invited to...yet. The all male poker night.
Okay, so I don't really know how to play poker, but then again...I didn't exactly know much about deer hunting either when I was invited to go along. I can tell the difference between a full house and a royal flush...it's just the bidding that confuses me. Well, that and I lack the ability to keep a poker face. Um...okay well it's worse than that. I have this tendency to dance around in my chair and chortle in a gloating fashion when I have a good hand. Not very subtle. Still, I wanted to do it. I longed for the opportunity to spend one evening, hanging out with my buddies, swilling beer, telling tasteless stories and playing cards.
Finally, the opportunity arose. Jim, my boyfriend at the time, was torn between spending the evening with me and living up to his responsibilities as the host of this week's poker night. Our relationship was still in the early stages, teetering precariously on my every whim. Perhaps...I could use this to my advantage...
"I think you should go and play poker with your friends tonight, "I said magnanimously. "I'm sure it must be a lot of fun...I've always wanted to learn how to play poker..." With that said, I turned my big brown eyes on him.
Jim wasn't what I would call a stunning intellectual...but he was rather quick at picking up on subtle hints and making them sound like it was his idea. "Would you like to come to poker night, Laurie? I'm sure the guys would LOVE it!" he responded on cue.
"Well...I don't really know how to play poker," I replied all feminine and demur now that I had my way, "Would you mind teaching me?"
A quick "you are my hero" look and it was done.
Jim's friends weren't that in love with the idea of having a girl friend at their manly poker night. It felt downright strange to them, well...until I opened a bag of pork rinds and they decided I might work out after all.
The game was dealer's choice. I fumbled my way through several hands under Jim's tutelage, never quite grasping the entire concept but somehow managing to not be a huge liability. Eventually, however...the deck landed in my hands and four men looked at me expectantly.
"So...dealer's choice, right?" I began shuffling the deck, "...that means any game I want, correct?"
Around the table, the players nodded their heads in agreement. Yes...I could choose anything I wanted. Looking at the avid curiosity on their faces reminded me of another situation, with a different group of men...and I couldn't help but think, if had worked then...perhaps it might work again. Men could be tricky at times. How far you could push really depended on group dynamics.
I like to meet new people. It's a bad habit of mine. Late one night, or rather those wee hours of the morning when one can still consider it night, I was walking home from my job at the local Burger King. Even though I was very careful to take the same route to work and back home again, wending my way through familiar suburban streets where every family knew me and called me "hamburger helper" occasionally a strange car would find itself hopelessly lost in the maze of streets.
On this particular night, an old beat up sedan, full of young men, blew by me, cranking out music by Lynard Skynard. A voice yelled from the dark interior as it passed by..."I love you!!!" Without hesitation, I laughed and yelled back "I love you too!" Stupid...really. The car squealed to a halt and backed up slowly. "Oh crap...what have I done now," I muttered to myself.
To my amusement, one of them leaned out and said that I shouldn't be walking out alone at night and it was only right that he should walk me home. At first I declined, but he insisted...saying, "Look...I'll keep my hands up in the air the entire time. Just to prove I mean no harm."
Well, how could I resist that? I made him walk that way for about a quarter mile, while his friends followed us in the car, before I told him that he looked silly and to please put his arms down. We walked all the way to the end of the sidewalk about twenty or so yards from my front door...and then, I did an impulsive thing. I looked at the house...and then I looked at the carful of boys...and I decided there and then I didn't really want to go home. At least not quite yet.
I jumped into their car as one of them cranked up the radio yelling, "It's Lynard Skynard Hour...let's party!!" It was sort of sweet when "What's Your Name" came on and they all sang to me. Finally, we ended up back near where I had originally started, parked behind a gas station across the street from the Burger King.
With a smile, one of them nonchalantly extracted a joint from his shirt pocket, lit it and began passing it around. At seventeen, I had managed to navigate socially without being tempted by alcohol or drugs. Well...until now. I shrugged and figured, what the hell...it wasn't like I'd made very many smart decisions so far tonight...why stop now?
I ROFLMAO'd when I watched this one..
I like this version better...
It began to rain...I heard the soft ticking sound of it landing on the roof of the car and watched the droplets chase each other slowly down the window that I was sitting by. It reminded me of a little song that I knew from childhood and inspired me to ask them if they knew "Itsy Bitsy Spider."
They shook their heads and gave me blank stares. "What's Itsy Bitsy Spider?" one asked solemnly. I was only too happy to share my knowledge, guiding their hands into the proper choreography, teaching each of them the words to the song.
It took about five or ten minutes, tears of laughter poured down our cheeks, our sides and stomachs ached painfully, but I managed to overcome their clumsy finger movements and hone them into a well-oiled Itsy Bitsy spider machine. Well, one guy had a hard time distinguishing between the rain and the sun...but his efforts were endearing nonetheless. Exhausted, we collapsed in the car, trying not to look at each other, afraid it would send us into whooping gales of laughter all over again. Each of them agreed that it had been the most fun they'd had in a long time. And then...they drove me home.
Perhaps, I thought, looking at Jim and his friends waiting expectantly for my choice as dealer...I could pull off another Itsy Bitsy Spider moment. It was worth an attempt...
"Okay...my choice is..."I said drawing the moment out, "...Old Maid!"
"That's not POKER!"
"You have to pick a poker game..."
"Didn't you say it was dealer's choice?" I argued. "I thought you said I could pick ANY game I wanted to play. Have you ever played old maid?"
Not wanting to start an argument, they sullenly agreed to play the game I had chosen...but they made damn sure I knew they would not enjoy it.
Deftly, I extracted three of the queens and explained to them that the Queen of Spades was now the old maid. The rules were simple...draw from each other's hand, discard any matches...red cards to red cards, black cards to black cards....and the person left holding the queen of spades was the old maid. I dealt out the cards, before they could change their minds.
The game began quietly as each player sat brewing in their own misery...determined to not have fun. Then, just has I had begun to despair, the player across from me muttered the word "shit" under his breath after picking a card from his friend's hand. It didn't help that the old maid donor made a giggling sound and sat there with a smug little grin on his face.
Despite the initial response, competitive spirit began to nudge its way into the game. It was probably the most serious game of old maid that I'd ever played, judging by the furrowed brows and the squinty-eyed narrow looks given to each other right before the card selection.
Round after round, play continued. Before too long, Jim was out, I was out and another player had just relinquished his last card. The tension was palpable, watching the remaining two players try to outfox each other, rearranging their hand each turn in an attempt to lure the other player into taking the queen. In the end, one threw up his hands in victory and began chortling viciously, pointing a finger at his opponent.
"Old Maid! Old Maid!" he yelled before cackling madly, "You're the OLD MAID...hahahahaha!"
As the laughter slowly died down and the loser good-naturedly admitted that yes, he was the old maid, the deck was turned over to the next dealer.
"So...what's your choice?" I asked.
He shuffled the deck thoughtfully and then smiled. "Dealers choice is...Old Maid! I want a rematch!"
What can I say that I haven't already said? I just love hanging out with the guys...they really know how to have fun.