My Game Plan

One thing I greatly dislike when I am doing a puzzle or playing cards is having someone observe over my shoulder.

Just last week I was on a flight to Arizona with a nice, elderly gent seated beside me. After we had exchanged pleasantries, I pulled out my iPad to do some reading and play some games. I usually play Sudoku or Four Pictures, One Word which is a new game that I have been enjoying. This puzzle works much as its name suggests. Four pictures are shown with blank spaces underneath for a word to be inserted. A choice of 12 letters is given from which to make a word which applies to all four pictures.

Now let me get one thing clear – I play these games because I enjoy a challenge. I will tenaciously and stubbornly work at them until I find a solution which gives me a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. (I’ve also been told that such activity can keep dementia at bay.) Occasionally I will turn to someone else and ask for his or her input, but generally if someone else wants to play, I think, “Get your own game!”

Well, this fellow beside me didn’t know that and was obviously watching what I was doing. I was stuck on one puzzle for a few minutes when he suddenly blurted out, “What about the word union?”

“No, there’s no u in the word and it’s an 8-letter word.” I replied.

“How about merging?” he then suggested.

“No, there’s no m and that’s only 7 letters.” I responded while thinking, “How about minding your own business?”

“Oh, it might be ultimatum,” he interjected once more.

“Well, there’s still no u or m, and that’s 9 letters.” I calmly offered. (Calm on the outside, but thinking, “Back off, buddy,” on the inside.)

“Well, I really don’t know the game, but it sure is fun,” he cheerily added.

“Maybe we’ll just leave it for a while,” I politely countered as I snapped my iPad shut.

This reminds me of playing cards while everyone looks over my shoulder and tut-tuts over every bid I make or every card I play. Of course they would know what to do because they’ve seen everyone’s hand!

I remember playing cribbage in a supposedly fun tournament. No one else in our club volunteered to play because in their words, “I don’t know how to play.”

So I reluctantly agreed to participate and represent our club. Then these same folks proceeded to stand directly behind me the entire time making funny noises every time I played a card (and I’m not that bad a player). When a hand was done, they didn’t hesitate to inform me where I had a missed counting two points or where I could have stopped my opponent from doing so. It took all my willpower to hold my tongue (which as many of you know is not easy for me) and not say, “Really? I thought you didn’t know how to play!”

I don’t know about you, but I have much more fun without a gallery peering over my shoulder. That way I can play a game my way and if I make a mistake I own it. What I don’t need is a running commentary on every move I make or someone piping up offering advice that I don’t want. As I said before, “Get your own game!”



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