Friday, January 23, 2015

The Chronicles of Skip-Bo, Volume II

The second in a 3-part series examining the possibility of playing a game of Skip-Bo and still having an enjoyable weekend. Part One is
Once again the obligatory photograph per "blogging" "rules."

Earlier we examined the pain suffered in setting up a game of Skip-Bo and wondered aloud if the cards had been properly shuffled to ensure a fair game devoid of any unnatural runs.

It's apparent early in the game that those fears have been allayed. Like ship wreckage, all of the 1s, 2s, and wild cards that would have opened the game with a flourish have filtered to the bottom of the stack, leaving all three participants with an unplayable morass-- the Skip-Bo equivalent of a Scrabble rack full of vowels. Any hopes of a quick, clean game have thus also sunk to the bottom of the drain. Sigh.

Here we invoke the 33rd Law of Cards: In any non-poker card game, you will at some point hold what would constitute easily your all-time best poker hand. This hand, in tandem with inexorable patience, impeccable timing, steely nerves, sunglasses and the face of an asshat, would win you $800 kajillion dollars on ESPN's World Series of Poker. (You may even get to wear an asshat.)

Instead you're stuck with four 11s with a 12 kicker when only 1s and 2s will play in the middle, and a 9 on your Skip-Bo pile, left to continue wondering how college will get paid for, when ESPN will start televising Skip-Bo tournaments, and where your weekend is going. And if they had Skip-Bo tournaments, would you even play, just out of principle? Pretty sure they would be held in a smoky, dark, joyless room full of Skip-Bo nerd-snobs who look down their noses at you when you make a joke about a bad beat. As you convince yourself no, no you wouldn't play in their stupid tournaments, you feel the room grow quieter and quieter, the activity seemingly waning...

"Oh, my turn?"

"YES, Daddy!"

The next card you draw holds a ray of hope. It plays in the middle, and while it is only one card, maybe it will help break this game open. Then the competitive fire gets you. You see that if you play the card, you will open up your son to play off of his Skip-Bo pile. Conflicted between just moving the game along and not letting your kid win under any circumstances, you hold the card, prolonging the agony but remaining comfortable with the knowledge that you're playing the game as it was meant to be played. Plus if you opened up the game for only one child, the other one will get upset and accuse you of hating her, just like she did that time you accidentally bought the orange juice with the pulp...

"Daddy! Your turn!"

"Sorry, sorry..."

At some point after several turns, when you were wondering why only orange juice has pulp, your daughter has managed to reel off a big run that has sliced her Skip-Bo pile in half. It slipped your notice because your younger child no longer screams in protest at the slightest hint of a sibling's good fortune nor throws his shoes in the fireplace in protest. He just rolls his eyes like a teenager even though he's 5, already learning the art of smug.

Meanwhile, you haven't played a blessed thing off your pile, that 9 still staring you in the face, but now the middle piles accept only 11s, 12s, and 8s. You have a wheelbarrow full of 11s but no tantalizing 8 that will lead you to the Promised Pile. You re-arrange your discards like the deck chairs on the Titanic, not realizing that the 11 opens up your son's 12. You're thankful your daughter doesn't notice, doesn't care, or doesn't mind your letting someone back in the game. She's nice like that. Surely there are there other juices with pulp, no? Let's Google it...

"Daaaad. Quiiit playing on your phone..."

What happens next? Does Dad launch a big comeback and steal the game from his daughter? Does the son launch a medium-sized comeback and secure his first ever win at this wretched game? Does the 3-year-old fly off the coffee table like Superman into the middle of the cards and wreck the game completely? (Spoiler alert...) Stay tuned for the stunning conclusion when we wrap up this Iran-Contra-affair-length game of Skip-Bo.


Leslie Carnacchi said...

Jonathan, you are just TOO FUNNY!!! I loved this!! Keep writing………

Blessings to you and yours!

Jonathan Criswell said...

Thank you so much...You make my day! I'll keep doing it as long as someone keeps reading :-)

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