(In our first installment, we learned that I play competitive bridge with a bunch of weirdos, and have made a lot of enemies during tournament play.)
The first enemy I made in the bridge world was a menacing giant with halitosis. The guy would hunch his misshapen body over his cards, transforming himself into a bulky question mark. And with his dragon breath, he’d belittle and intimidate one of my regular bridge partners, a sweet, gay man who’s too timid to fight back.
Each time we’d face off against this bully, and his equally loathsome partner, my maternal hackles would rise and I’d start jabbing before he could attack my partner. He’s a homophobe so I’d focus on remarks that questioned his fragile manhood. “What dainty, girlish hands you have, Frank!” I’d exclaim, which never failed to rattle him, allowing us to easily kick his sorry ass at the bridge table.
Most of my bridge enemies are like Frank: combative loaners with zero social skills. In the real world, I’d be generous and forgiving of these oddballs. But put playing cards in my hand and sit me across from some outcast who wants to avenge all the wrongs in his life by being rude to me and my partner, and I become a jerk.
Also, I’m routinely cranky on game nights because, as I outlined in the first installment of this column, no eligible ladies play this stupid game. Yes, there are lots of women, but they’re straight and many are quite elderly. Over the years, out of desperation, I’ve tried flirting with youngish female players with suspicious haircuts and spinsterish sensibilities, but it always ends in disaster. They mistake my clumsy come-ons as an invitation to bore the hell out of me with details about their tedious hobbies. It usually ends with me invited to a Daughters of the American Revolution luncheon followed by an interminable tea service at their parents’ home. (They always live with their parents.)
For the past several weeks, I have been courting a new bridge partner, which is as tricky and delicate as negotiating a new romance. But this person—a coolly, attractive woman and an excellent bridge player, who has traded intense gazes with me across the tournament room for several months—was already in some type of indentured partnership with a brutish but clever tax attorney who hates my guts. I won’t get into why he hates me because unless you play bridge it will make no sense. Let’s just say there was an “incident” over his lack of sportsmanship and he’s been out for my blood ever since. It didn’t help that I’ve been campaigning to woo his comely partner away from his vile side and make her my own.
By the end of the game, in which I charmed her with both my superior playing skills and witty remarks about the scandalous private lives of the face cards, I knew I had won her over. Her now-former partner seethed as he watched her slip me her number, and shadowed us menacingly in the parking lot as we arranged to play together the following week.
Since then, I’ve experienced a series of misfortunes. I left for work one morning to find my front car tires mysteriously deflated. I’ve received a threatening letter from the IRS. Everything I drink tastes like it’s been poisoned.
Have I made one too many enemies in the bridge world? Is my life in jeopardy? I suppose my fate is now in the cards. But it will all be worth it if I get something other than a tea party out of this.
Bridge players: if you’re looking for a partner to play online, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.