Monday, March 19, 2007

Wit, whist and whimsy

I've decided something: I need to learn how to play whist. I'm not sure why exactly. Maybe because they always seem to be playing whist in novels. Observe these very literary references*:

* Edgar Allan Poe wrote about whist on his tale The Murders in the Rue
Morgue: "[...] Whist has long been noted for its influence upon what
is termed the calculating power; and men of the highest order of
intellect have been known to take an apparently unaccountable delight
in it, [...]"

* Al Shockley and Jack Torrence play Whist during a flashback scene in
Stephen King's The Shining.

* Phileas Fogg, the hero of Jules Vernes novel Around the World in
Eighty Days, is a dedicated whist player.

* Edward Gorey made a mention of whist in his illustrated book The
Glorious Nosebleed, the selection reading:
"They played whist distractedly."

And of course, Scarlett O'Hara was always playing whist with carpetbaggers, and I read that book as a kid and it affected me greatly (from then all all my Barbie games were set during the Civil War, which also served to explain the lack of Kens most conveniently).

Whatever the cause, this inexplicable desire has remained in the foggier parts of my consciousness for some time, but today I learned something that set the urge ablaze once more, namely that there is a version of the game called "Three-Handed Widow's Whist" – and immediately I had to have it.

In Widow's Whist, you deal out one extra hand, which sits at the left of the dealer. Three other hands are dealt, one for each player (it's a 3-player version) and the player to the left of the dealer has the option of keeping their own hand or trading it for the "widow" hand.

All of this is marvellous for many reasons, not the least of which is that I can finally start my own Whist Society.

Can't you just picture a society of genteel ladies, faded Southern belles perhaps, sipping whiskey and playing a rousing yet decorous game of cards? I can see it now. And as such I have officially decided to found the Widow's Whist Society and Temperance League, Queens Chapter.

For the edification of potential applicants to the league, rules are as follows:

1) Temperance is suspended while cards are in play
2) Bourbon is to be served at all games. In the absence of servants,
use children from the neighborhood. I suggest using orphans.
3) Appropriate attire is encouraged. This includes, but is not
limited to: hats, gloves, stockings with garters or with that seam up
the back, dresses. If you can't afford stockings, use eyeliner to
draw a seam up the back of your leg.
4) Men are welcome if they adhere to the rules of appropriate attire.
5) If at any point the lights go off and when they come back on again
we find there's been a murder, the game will be considered a draw.

Light refreshments will be provided.

* Literary references stolen from Wikipedia :)

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