Going Alone

Being from Michigan, I am very familiar with Euchre.  Since it’s possible you are not, let me tell you a little about this card game…..

Euchre has been around since the early 19th century, possibly originating from German and English immigrants in the U.S.  Even the earliest written teaching of the game in the U.S. is around 1850 in Philadelphia, so we’re talking about a card game that has even been in this country for a very long time.  It has apparently waned in its popularity, but it is still going strong in some of the midwest states like Indiana, Ohio and Michigan.

I’m not about to go into telling you how it’s played because it isn’t an easy game to learn (especially just reading about it).  But suffice it to say that once learned, it is a very addicting game and loads of fun with the right people!  (By the way, one of the best ways to learn this game is to have only one person instructing you–instead of everyone giving you their input and opinions–and just start playing, but with all of the cards visible to everyone.  Do that enough and you really start to get a handle on the game and how it’s played.)

I grew up with my parents being a part of a Euchre Club in the area, which was really just a group of good friends who played who knew other friends who played who knew other friends….so needless to say, from what I remember of my parents’ involvement, there was rarely a shortage of members or subs.

As I recall, Euchre Club for my parents was usually a Saturday night, which meant that my brother and I had a babysitter while they took a crockpot of food and split for the evening.  Any time that they were away before we were in bed, they would always come in and say goodnight–even if we were asleep.  My brother and I always knew that they were home and in our room because inevitably the cigarette smell on them would be so strong that it would wake us up out of a dead sleep (there were a few smokers in that bunch–interesting the memories that stick with you).

I remember that they had an old desk bell that once belonged to my great-grandparents on my Dad’s side.  My parents used it at the head table of Euchre Club to signal the beginning and ending of each game.  (Euchre Club consists of ten games in a night’s play [the number of tables corresponding to the number of players with one table being lowest and the highest being the head table], each game being scored and points tallied up at the end of the night for prizes of various kinds.)  And interestingly enough, that very same bell has been passed down to me by my parents, because we have had two different Euchre Clubs that we have been a part of and that bell has been used at every one of those games (even as currently as last night!).

In our Euchre Club, we also play with some additional “rules” (taken from the official Hoyle card rule book), which makes things more interesting and also allows for the maximum amount of points since we are playing for prizes at the end of the night.  One of those fun rules is called the “Jamboree”.  Here’s the set-up without going into too much detail:  Each player is dealt 5 cards.  You determine if you have enough cards in your hand to not only determine which suit (diamonds, hearts, spades or clubs) becomes the highest suit for that hand, but also if you (with the help of your partner across the table) can get at least three of the five “tricks” that comprise each hand of the game.  If you feel you can get all five tricks on your own, you can “Go Alone” (and, like in our Euchre Club, you can slide a card you don’t want from your own hand across the table to your partner and take your partner’s best to do so).  Well, it is quite a rush when you realize that, in your hand, you hold the five highest possible cards.  It’s unbeatable!  Especially when you get an additional 16 points for yourself!  Thus the name “Jamboree”, because you do yourself a little dance around your table as you write down your extra points on your score sheet, eyes dialated and beads of sweat showing on your forehead as adrenaline courses through your veins….

So why am I telling you all this?  Because each Euchre Club we’ve been to has truly been a great time with some really great people!  We have come away from both Euchre Clubs (the first one being ’06-’09 and the second one January ’15-present) with some really great memories and growing friendships that really mean something.  And in the Big Picture of things, that’s what really matters when it comes down to it.

So do things with people.  Get to know them.  Make yourself available to be liked by others.  I’ll bet you’re more fun to be with than you realize….

That’s been my experience.