Beginner Bridge

trumpsIt all started a few years ago, when a good friend took me by the hand and said, You’re retired. Time to learn Bridge.  And golf.

Good grief.  I had avoided both my entire life, and here I was, face to face with a petite blonde retiree, another teacher, with an iron will.

I sighed and asked, can we start with Bridge?  It was winter, raining cats and dogs at the time, and probably 40 degrees below zero, which was admittedly a bit unusual for California Bay Area weather.

So we started with Bridge.  She had done her prep work and was prepared with all kinds of handouts and notes for me.  She didn’t realize I was functioning at the lowest possible remedial level, with no math skills whatsoever, but she had all kinds of expectations for what I could eventually do.

Eventually being the critical word.

I struggled to hold the definition of a “Trick” while “Trump” was mystifying long before politics ever entered the picture.

But, she was incredibly patient and would repeat explanations without flinching. Nothing much helped.

Then I moved.  I wouldn’t exactly call it payback, but before the movers showed up, I nominated my friend for a county board position and now she’s an officer, which probably cuts into her Bridge and golf time.  I do feel marginally guilty about that, even though she’s doing an exceptional job.

It wasn’t long after the move, that another dear woman and new friend — actually, another petite blonde woman with a similar iron will — said she was teaching a beginner Bridge group and needed a fourth.  Thursdays, 12:3o. 

She was also well prepared with notes, a book, and cards that were pre-set so the three of us would get a lot of practice on the lesson of the day.  The other two women have also been incredibly patient, being more experience beginners than I.

That was almost eight months ago, before a more or less permanent sub was needed for yet another beginner Bridge group.  Tuesdays, 1:00.

Bridge has also become almost fun, albeit challenging, though not as enjoyable as the talking and laughter shared afterwards in the Sports Lounge.

I think I’m beginning to figure out the game.  Kind of.  The bidding process remains a constant challenge and scoring is still a mystery. 

But, now, I can confidently share that I actually understand the definition of a “Trick.”  I even get “Trump” but only as it applies to card games.

It’s probably the only thing about the Trump that I understand.


boringMy Sister Jane came up to visit over the holidays and, of course, the late night topic of conversation turned to dating.  Or not dating, as the case may be.

I shared that, having been blogging now for a whole few months, I’ve had the occasion to read a plethora of blogs about dating experiences by women in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

ACK!!!  We all report pretty much identical stories.  Age doesn’t seem to matter. And, that’s a pretty dismal statement.

I had also read an interview with Kristie Allie, who was back once again in the dating scene and made a plea to the more mature man:

Don’t be so freaking boring! Don’t have the life already sucked out of you.

We must have dated some of the same men.

What I found even more interesting were some of the comments by men who had read the interview. Many lacked photos of themselves, but had posted pictures of sport cars, dead fish and guns.


There was the man who wrote that, in his forties, he had taken up fishing, golfing, four-wheeling and how dare she describe him as boring.  Ah, hint:  those are hobbies.  Good for any man (or woman) has hobbies, quilting, gardening and painting included, but if that’s all you can talk about it on a date, boring just about fits either gender.

And then there were the men who wanted to take another nap before leaving a comment.

There were also the men who understood Alley’s comments. 

Boring is not a function of what you do but who you are. Do you strive to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and try new things? Are you always learning? Do you reach out and try to offer things of value to the people you care about? Then you will not only not be boring but you will also be the best self you can be, and get the most out of life.

Whoo Hoo!!  I’d sure like to meet that wise man, even if he is a forty-something college professor who lives 3000 miles away.

 I do wonder if the current economic situation hasn’t added to the life sucked out of you observation, at least for some of us of retirement age. I can’t tell you how many professional men I’ve met who didn’t plan and are now faced with working for the rest of their lives because they have to, not because they want to.

If that doesn’t drain life out of someone, I’m not sure what does.

Sadly, I also think these men may be the harbinger of things to come, as increasing numbers of retirees will need to rely on 401Ks, given defined benefit programs are fast becoming the safety net of the past. If Frontline predictions hold true that 401Ks are both a gamble and train wreck waiting to happen — all while underwriting increased company profits — then we can pretty much forget about boring dates.

We’ll be far too busy surviving to be concerned about the folly of coffee dates.





Beginners Golf

I had a friend. She IMG_2453was a golfer. She is a golfer. It is her life.

We were retiring at the same time.  Her plan was to play golf for the next 100 or so years and, as far as I know, she’s kept to her plan.

At the time, just before retirement, she was fairly certain that if our friendship was going to continue in any meaningful manner, I needed to play golf.

I was game to learn even though I had never held a golf club in my life.  Actually, that’s not true.  I did take golf in high school and the coach told me to pick up the ball and throw it; it’d go farther. Those words no doubt colored any thought of my ever taking up the sport.

I did need a hobby …. or at least, I thought I did as I also knew nothing at all about retirement.  As it turns out, I am far busier in retirement than I ever was when I was working.  I’m not quite sure how I had so much free time when I had a full time job.

One spring afternoon, my friend and I met at the local golf course, where she introduced me to her pro, a very nice woman who was very encouraging and helpful, especially in signing me up for a whole bunch of lessons.  I showed up for each and every lesson and soon realized that this whole golf hobby was far beyond what I had originally bargained for.

The thing about golf is that you need clubs — a whole lot of clubs, as it turns out, most of which I have no idea when to use.  The clubs also need a bag in which to reside.  Actually, the clubs need two bags, a small one to walk a couple of very special clubs to the green — that’s where the ball eventually finds the hole — and a large bag to carry all of them along the rest of course.

There are also balls, tees, a cloth to keep everything clean, place markers, a divot tool, gloves, caddy, a visor and a whole assortment of colorful thingamajigs that go inside the pockets of the large golf bag and then promptly get lost somewhere at the bottom. But, because they’re critical to the game, you need to keep replacing them.

It’s rather like kids’ socks and the washers that eat them.  You have no idea where they go, just that you have to keep replacing the socks or, in golf’s case, the thingamajigs, in order to keep everything balanced and in its proper order.

Once properly outfitted, the bag is far too heavy to carry, especially with all those missing items at the bottom, so that means investing in a push cart for short courses and a golf cart for longer ones.

In order to actually get onto the course, you need both the proper clothes and shoes, neither of which can be used for anything other than golf and are season specific.  Women’s clothes and shoes, while a tad pricey, are very cute to wear and are easy to color-coordinate with the bag, clubs, balls, markers, tees and shoes.  My personal color preference is deep purple which goes with my silvery-white hair but unfortunately clashes with the light green golf bag that was purchased when I was a blondy-auburn.

I think golf is actually about as expensive and time intensive as owning a horse which is another activity that drains the bank account.

After taking the lessons, practicing at the range, buying the irons, woods, balls, tees and thingamajigs, I went out to lunch with my former friend.

When are we going to play?

It’ll be a while. I’m moving to La Quinta.  Maybe when you visit…

For a brief moment, I thought about wrapping my driver around her neck, except it was in the bag on the push cart in the garage and, besides, I wasn’t exactly sure which club it was.

Regardless, I was pretty sure the club was too darn expensive to even consider bending it.