Copyright © 2005 Henrietta W. Hay
Fun and Games
July 8, 2005
I've always loved games -- of almost any kind. After the athletic
days, and when the kids left home, other things took over. But now at the Commons, I'm back to games, the kind that don't take too much energy.
When I was a little girl, all I knew about pool halls was that they were dark and full of men smoking cigars and knocking a ball around with a stick. My father had warned me never to go into one, but one day curiosity overcame what good sense I had. When Dad caught me I lost my interest in pool halls.
I still know nothing about them, whether they even exist today, but about 50 feet from the door of my apartment in a big, bright activity room there is a handsome pool table. Nothing would do, of course, but that I would have to learn to play pool, a somewhat ridiculous thing for a little old lady of 91 to do. But even George Washington enjoyed the game, so I guess I can too.
Anyway, with a lot of help and practice I am gradually learning. I think that it is not unlike field hockey at age 20. If I am too lazy to go to the table, I can even play pool on my computer -- sitting down. Oh yes, people with oxygen tanks get along fine playing pool.
I was surprised to discover that billiards/pool it is a very ancient game. The origin is not definitely known. It may have begun in France, Italy, Spain, or China. Billiards was played in Europe in the late 16th century and came to North America with the Spaniards in 1565.
As an ex-athlete, I like to play darts. This game is , of course, not new to me, but I have not played for years, and this is a professional dart board. It looked so easy when the Activity Director casually tossed a dart that hit the red dot. My first 10 or 12 tosses not only missed the dot They missed the board. But gradually I am earning the physics of flight and find it is both challenging and fun. Several people in wheel chairs are formidable opponents in this one.
There are many less strenuous activities going on around here. There is game called by the utterly ridiculous name of Chickenfoot. It's played with dominoes and is a very social game, much more so than Bridge. I look in on the Bridge games occasionally and absolute silence prevails.
In Chickenfoot you are allowed or encouraged to yell at the player who spoiled your play. It is very competitive.
And Bingo, good old Bingo. It too had ancient beginnings. Apparently the Europeans didn't have enough to do since they went heavily into games. A major problem with modern Bingo came in making the cards without repeating number groups. The math professor who did it got a dollar a card to start with but toward the end the price per card had risen to $100. Eventually, 6,000 cards were created at the expense of the professor's sanity.
Once a week a very intense game of Bingo takes place and I am usually there. The prizes are not extravagant. I won a Hershey bar one day.
There are lots of other things going on here, but this is all I can handle. After all, I have to write a column and save time to communicate with Mercury the Wonder Cat.