We have a reunion each year for my mother's side of the family. She has many brothers; I'm not even sure how many. There are approximately a hundred and fifty thousand of us aunts, uncles, and cousins at this reunion. We see each other this one time every year.
Like most families, we have our own traditions. One of our favorites is playing a game where the host of the party sets up a table strewn with a bunch of junk like pencils, dish scrubbers, bungee cords, and tea light holders. Everyone's name is written on three slips of paper and placed into a bowl. Someone draws the names and reads them one by one. As your name is read, you choose a piece of junk from the table. When all the junk is picked, people whose names are then called may "steal" any object from any other person. When the names are all called, what you have left is yours to keep.
You may be familiar with this game; it is often called White Elephant Trade or Chinese Auction. We used to employ these names until my brother made the point that we were racists by using an indirect Asian reference to junk. We now call the game Junk Table.
This year there were several Walmart gift cards on the Junk Table. My grandfather, who is 93 years old, selfishly took two of them for himself, knowing that no one would dare steal from an old person.
He obviously underestimated his granddaughter, who orchestrated the Junk Table herself and who had every intention of going home with a Walmart gift card.
Shortly after my name was called, I walked back to my seat and pumped my prize trimphantly in the air. I was heckled by members of my own family, astonished that I would stoop so low as to take from my elder, who was flagrantly displaying his collection of prime bounty in front of him on the table instead of hiding it in his pocket or under his chair like the rest of us were doing. And who, incidentally, was also doing his fair share of heckling.
The game ended and I had only the gift card in my hand. I kissed it goodbye as I handed it goodnaturedly back to Granddad, who gave me a crinkly smile and asked me if I was sure I didn't want it.
He didn't even give me a chance to answer as he slid the card into his shirt pocket, along with the other things he had hoarded. I might have heard him mutter "sucker" under his breath.
Next year there will be no mercy, old man. No mercy.
|Don't be fooled.|
The man is a hustler.