Written by Stanley Greenberg Friday, 14 May 2010 00:00
I have never been much of a card player. Somehow, myself and three other gentlemen formed a Monday night gin rummy game. It has been classified as a Damon Runyonesque experience because the players are alumni from the streets of the Bronx and Brooklyn circa 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.
A description of the cast of characters:
Player One begins each session by declaring his curfew time. He must be home at 10 p.m. meaning that the game must end by 9:45 p.m., to allow 15 minutes traveling time, even though he lives only one minute away. We are all suspicious of his reasons for the early curfew. He is an “early knocker.” He knocks when only a few cards have been played. He constantly asks for the “knock card” and the time, which can be distracting and disconcerting. However, we still “love” him for his weird sense of humor.
Player Two is more reserved. He is the expeditor and constantly tries to speed up the game. He likes to hold two kings, which are 20 points and are bad to get caught with. However, he has an arsenal of good jokes, which lighten up the darker moments.
Player Three is a retired dentist who is a student of the world. Never at a loss for words he entertains the group with stories of his and others’ life experiences. He has written about his life in a book and in an article he pens weekly in a local newspaper. A solid gin rummy player whose only apparent weakness is not remembering which cards have been played. (Editor’s Note – I think I am player number three) Characterization – by player number.
Player Four is the co-writer of this article. He is the youngest of the group (65+). He is scorekeeper, timekeeper, money counter and the one appointed to remember the knock card. He has an M.A. in statistics. Very capable of multi-tasking but cannot always discard the proper card. Seemingly searching for a new career he has turned to writing. This entire article is based on his ideas and words.
The side conversations of this group are quite entertaining and sometimes enlightening. From the streets of New York City come the stories, the sports analogies, and the optimistic pessimism of four old guys.
I look forward to each Monday night and hope desperately not to get caught with too many points in my hand.
Life message – the Bowery is full of guys who should have knocked.