A Pair of Dice? Paradise
To say that I grew up in a strict household is an understatement.
My folks were serious churchgoers, and Job One of the church was to make
sure the Devil did not sneak into our lives through our daily activities.
I figured that the Devil must have been a pretty busy guy, because there
was a long list of things we were not allowed to do and the list got longer
every time something new was invented.
Drugs and alcohol, of course, were forbidden. But those were just the
tip of the iceberg. I was not permitted to attend high school football
because there was a rumor that people there drank alcohol and bet on the
games. The other works of the Devil included television, movies, any type
of music except gospel music, immodest clothing on women (our church voted
to withdraw from the Southern Baptist Convention when the pastor got a
brochure in the mail with a picture of the SBC's summer youth camp featuring
boys and girls in swimsuits at the same pool), playing cards, dice, and
anything related to gambling. Checkers and dominoes somehow got a pass
from this requirement, even though people could obviously bet on checkers
and dominoes if they wanted to.
The gambling ban was so strict that, for Christmas one year, I got a Monopoly
game with the dice removed. I have no memory of how we played Monopoly
without them, and for some reason just seeing a Monopoly game bums me
out till this day.
I'm one of the few people in the world who don't know how to play cards.
Any kind of cards. No Uno, no Rook, nothing. Apparently Rook was invented
by Parker Brothers in 1906 and was nicknamed “Missionary Poker”
because it allowed Puritans and Mennonites to squeak around the no-card
requirement. They did not fool the Missionary Baptists, though, as least
not our group.
A co-worker many years ago invited me to his house for poker night, and
because of his wife's famous homemade hors d'oeuvres and his bottomless
supply of ice-cold specialty beers, I decided what the heck. He assured
me that I could watch the other guys play a hand or two and sort of pick
up the game by osmosis.
No such luck. Trying to internalize the rules gave me a splitting headache
that required a good portion of his beer supply to counteract. I've never
tried cards again. I don't know if I'm just stuck in my ways, or if my
genes have been permanently tattooed, at some level below conscious thought,
against Devil stuff.
Come to think of it, I guess I'm stuck in my ways, because I sure don't
hold any grudges against television, movies, and skimpy clothing. Sometimes
you can even see movies on television about people with skimpy clothing,
which is bound to be a trifecta, whatever that means.
What brings the whole subject to mind is that I was waiting in a long
supermarket line the other day and found myself staring at a rack of impulse
items that included Bicycle Brand playing cards and, lo and behold, Bicycle
The dice were marked down from their usual price. I figured it was fate,
and I got them.
The lady checking me out smiled and said, “Are you going to have
a dice game tonight, hon'?”
I explained to her that I didn't know how to play dice, but that I wanted
to learn because I was never allowed to own any as a child. And as the
great Tom Robbins once wrote, “It's never too late to have a happy
She got a serious look and leaned a little toward me, conspiratorially.
“You're not going to tell your momma I sold you these, are you?”
I assured her I would not.
Seven come eleven. Baby needs a pair of shoes. Fade me. Cover me. Get
Whatever that means.
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