Al Batt: I can’t handle cards even with an automatic shuffler – Albert Lea Tribune

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

Hasenpfeffer, Euchre, Hucklybuck, Sheepshead and Pepper.

Are they personal injury lawyers?

Al Batt

No. Card games. Hasenpfeffer (pfeffer) is also a rabbit stew. Hucklybuck is sometimes referred to as Hucklebuck. Euchre, should not be confused with Bob Uecker, the Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster who played anchor Harry Doyle in the movie “Major League” and said things like “Heywood leads the league in most offensive categories, including nose hair. When this guy sneezes, he looks like a birthday present.

These are games that follow the fundamental laws of math, skill, strategy, and luck, played for coins, camaraderie, and competition. A stay-a-wake coffee or other adult drink could be involved. Attendance has declined due to video games and the ability to binge-watch television.

One day a few years ago I was in a hotel when some expired food had aged an hour. It was a long walk from my room to the hotel office where I was to leave. I liked it that way.

As I walked past the corner of the vending machine, a woman made exasperated sounds somewhere between anger and prayer. Being sold to had become a thing of my past. I can’t remember the last time I used one. The products are laid out attractively and I would expect items on the left side of a vending machine to sell better because that’s how we read – left to right. The woman, whom I didn’t know from a can of pop, seemed jet lagged or tired from the road and needed a candy bar, which refused to reach her. Instead, it lodged in place. Attracting close, he taunted her with his distance. His vexation was minimal outrage by today’s standards. She frantically pressed random buttons on the jazzy machine, hoping that one would offer a solution to her problem. Why was she dealing with a vending machine? Maybe she didn’t want to engage with a human.

As I put my bag in the trunk of a rental car before heading to the airport, I discovered his car parked next to me. I had to ask him if the vending machine gods had relented and presented him with his purchase. They hadn’t. She explained that she was in town to play in a Texas Hold’em poker tournament and needed a Snickers bar vending machine for good luck. She needed to find another Snickers bar in another vending machine. I wished him good luck.

I remember a young man in my hometown shaking a pop machine, either in an effort to vandalize it, or to get change, or to get some free pop. The machine tipped over him, pinning him to the ground as if he were a star wrestler. He was not seriously injured, but needed help to be freed. It was the stuff of legends.

In my limited travels as a youngster, I was more interested in vending machines than card games. I was particularly interested in pop machines and collected bottle caps of a certain brand. I needed a lot of them to get a free bike. It took a few eons, but I filled up a cardboard box and mailed it, only to be informed that the promotion had ended a year early.

I saw people playing cards. Pfeffer, euchre, hucklybuck, pepper and mutton were popular. Many claimed it was a world title match. The elements of laughter and malarkey were in the cards.

I once had a roommate who liked to play solitaire. He had bad luck at the game because he cheated. “I’m just fooling myself,” was his excuse.

I’ve seen older boys, who had unfairly disqualified from driving after racking up numerous traffic violations in a few days, playing penny-ante poker in the back of the school bus. A classmate did some smart things after studying car tricks.

I gave my stepfather a new cribbage board. I played it without knowing how. I heard: “Fifteen twos is all I can do”, “Fifteen twos, 15 fours is no more” and “You lost.

I was a skilled player in a 52 card pick up deck. I would scatter the 52 cards on the floor and say, “52 cards picked up!” But I never became a card player.

My Aunt Helen gave me an automatic card shuffler.

It didn’t change my life.

Al Batt’s chronicles appear every Wednesday in the Tribune.

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