Whenever I have to survive something in my life, be it a boring day at a mindless job or a brutal midwestern winter, I tend to cinema-tize the experience. I art-direct my challenges visually or dramatize them emotionally in order to enjoy what otherwise seems unenjoyable.
Surviving the recession this winter was quickly becoming a flat and un-fun affair, so I decided to heighten the experience into something atmospheric and ultimately enriching. I romanticized an escape from the material wants and worries of our current times by revisiting the old-school sources of a man’s wealth: family, friends, and family-friendly games.
I endeavored to have my mother re-teach my Pinochle over the Christmas holiday. As a daughter of German immigrants growing up in post-war Detroit, it was an important part of my mother’s childhood and heritage. “We Germans take our Pinochle very seriously,” she said, as she led my family through the ins and outs of the game at my sister’s kitchen table. “When in doubt, play a Queen,” she instructed.
Gaining this knowledge from my mother was only half of my recession-fueled master plan. The other half was inviting friends I should’ve spent more time with these past years into my house for a self-made supper and Pinochle lessons from a newly-minted master: Myself.
Watching my friend Matt mumble to himself, “When in doubt, play a Queen,” just as my grandpa had taught my mother, and she had re-taught me, and I had now taught my sorely missed friends…well, it was just the kind of cozy, connecting scene I had set out to direct and delight in amidst this economic hassle everyone’s hoping to survive.