Sunday, November 2, 2008

Politics, Not Royalty, Should Dominate Playing Cards

I enjoy a few games of cards occasionally, but can never really get excited about playing. Shuffling that same deck all afternoon or evening becomes too much like just sitting there spinning one's wheels.

My mind tends to drift off to other things: All those kings and queens! What is this fixation we still have with royalty? After the Revolutionary War why didn't some loyal colonist design a new, truly American deck? One with presidents, veeps, chief justices and secretaries of state? The cards could display caricatures or photos of the actual office holders. After elections, card sales would boom as players brought their equipment up to date. Certainly no one would want to play with an obsolete deck. Old decks would quickly become valuable collectors items.

All of the card games I play are "male-oriented,' with the kings outranking the queens. Even the jacks, when they happen to be the bowers of trump, can pull rank on the queens. Where are all of our militant feminists? Why aren't they beating against the glass ceiling that prevents our poor queens from attaining equal power? We could change the rules perhaps allow the red kings to outrank the red queens and the black queens dominate the black kings. But that would be too confusing. And smack a bit of
discrimination by color..

And then there is the matter of those male jacks. If we are really seeking sexual equality, we should add female counterparts to the deck. The simplest way to accomplish this would be to give each sexless ace a gender – make each a feminine card. We could decorate them with pictures of beautiful ladies. But not attractive or suggestive enough to raise the hackles of those who have fought so valiantly and long to eliminate the bathing suit competition from beauty contests.

As long as our deck of cards is already committed to royalty, why not add a princess? A jack is often referred to as a knave. It is not unlikely that a princess card would at times be called a wench, or worse.

What would I suggest for a proper illustration for each of our new ace-princess cards? You have to be kidding. There is only one real princess! Each ace should be given a tasteful caricature of Britain's beautiful Diana, Princess of Wales, complete with her blonde hair and those soulful eyes as big as saucers (no aces wild jokes, please). No, I am not a devout member of Princess Diana's fan club. I am still actually a mite piqued that she didn't come out and say, "Hello," or at least wave, when we walked past her Kensington Palace a year ago last fall. Oh, sure, I realize she was probably busy doing "princess things," or whatever it is that a princess does. I'm no historian, but the lovely Princess Diana must certainly be the brightest star to have illuminated that whole royal facade for centuries.

Back to our deck of cards. We still have the joker to deal with – a male card usually portrayed as a court jester. The joker isn't used in all card games. Maybe we could get by with letting that one remain a male card. We still haven't given an assignment to
Prince Charles....


With much of my life behind me
I look back now and I see
So many plans unfinished, with
Much missed opportunity.

The wasted time, the days, the years
That brought me no real rewards –
Hours watching television and,
Much worse yet, just playing cards.

In most types of activities –
Almost anything I do -
If I keep my eyes wide open,
I can learn a thing or two,

But playing cards makes few demands
On a lazy human mind.
The brain can just relax and leave
All thoughts of progress behind.

Most anyone can "talk the talk,"
Even the loud and obscene:
"If you'd just played your goddam Ace,
Then led back the friggin' Queen ...."

"I haven't held a decent hand
They just don't deal me a thing!"
"All I had was the Ten and Left He
had the Right and King."

"Stop peeking at my cards or I
Will quit. For just once play fair!"
"To change my luck I will get up
And walk right around my chair."

Yes, I have spent a lot of time
That's brought me no great rewards,
But my one regret's all the time
That I've wasted playing cards.

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