Sunday, September 16, 2012

What's Important

In a junk mail company I once worked for there was a young woman who was a joy to know, simply because she generally bubbled over with enthusiasm for whatever the subject happened to be.

Most of the friends I had in that company were fifteen or twenty years younger than I, mainly because that was true of the company's general population. Some would from time to time visit my office, close the door, and ask for advice on one personal problem or another, or just vent about a problem and wait for advice. Pet (we'll call her) fell into that category.

One morning she arrived at work a couple of hours late, and instead of going to her desk came straight to my office. As soon as she sat down the tears started, although not in a flood - from the looks of her these tears were the aftermath, and the flood had already occurred.

She explained that she and another young woman had agreed to rent an apartment together. Pet had put down the non-refundable deposit, about $800 if memory serves, and this was the day they were to move in. But the night before - can you *imagine*? - the other person had called and said she had changed her mind.

Pet was devastated. She couldn't afford the apartment alone, she couldn't afford to just lose the $800, and she had given notice to her current landlord and today was the last day she could live in her current apartment.

There was much more discussion about the situation, but at the end her eyes lit up and she said, "But I feel better now. I had a Frosty on the way here."

This was a person to whom all things were equally important.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Vietnam and Games

There were a couple of places that GI's gathered in the early evening, one being the Day Room and another being the Mess Hall. With many tables, the latter was the choice of most of those who would play games.

  • Dominoes

    I had seen dominoes but never played any of the various domino games. However, during the evenings there were frequently two or three tables of domino players in the Mess Hall, all playing a game called Muggins. I kibitzed a bit and learned that they were playing for five cents a point. Now I am nothing if not competitive when it comes to games and I decided that I just *had* to learn to play this game.

    One evening, when a game broke up, I stopped one of the players and asked if he would teach me the game. I said "I'll even play for the five cents a point while I learn."

    "Nooooo, *ten* cents a point."

    Well. What're you gonna do?

    When it comes to games I am fairly good at strategy, very good at tactics, and top notch at simple calculations. I figured I'd get my money back before long. I signed on, so to speak, and learned the game.

    Before long I was a regular in the domino games and winning more than my share of the nickles. I bought a domino set of my own and made regular appearances in the mess hall, and one night, as I entered, I heard someone halfway across the Mess Hall say, "Here comes Hendricks and his Goddamn dominoes."

  • Scrabble

    One evening in the Day Room, Buddy approached me and said "Let's play something."

    Donnie: "OK. Coon Can? Rummy? Dominoes? What?"

    Buddy: "Let's play Scrabble."

    Donnie: "OK. How about five cents a point?"

    Buddy: "Nooooo. Fifty cents a point."

    Donnie: "Let's go."

    We drew tiles and I won the right to go first. With an excellent draw, I plunked down the seven letter word "saintly," dropping the four point "y" on a Double Letter square. With the fifty point bonus for using all seven letters, I got 78 points, or $39.00, for this.

  • He fell further behind during the game and I won perhaps $60.00. Word gets around and it was the only game of Scrabble I played in Vietnam.