This is the only man to ever double skunk me. His name is Andrew Varney.
Varn and I met very early in our college careers. We were neighbors in Brandt Hall, Luther College. As collegiate neighbors do, we came to know each other via testosteronic shenanigans with the rest of the floor and good old-fashioned Midwestern Nice (I’d say Minnesota Nice, but Varn hails from Lone Tree, Iowa, so I’ll extend the benevolence past Minnesota’s southern border). I don’t remember how we learned that we each played–do you, Varn?–but over time our friendship grew as the games mounted. Of his many qualities, Varn boasts a mean Harry Carey impression.
Along with my roommate Evan and a few other friends, we took a J-term course together; after lunch each day, Varn and I played cribbage, just two or three games, almost every day for three weeks straight. As cribbage folk are superstitious folk, I believe it was decided to wear glasses or hats while the 15s were being thrown. The digital tag on this photo reads January 27, 2004, so it was one of the last days of J-term.
I don’t recall Varn holding 28 or 29 at any time, but there must have been a 24 or two. I don’t recall our rivalry being tipped too heavily in anyone’s favor. I don’t even recall what we did immediately afterward. I do recall, however, the bizarre dichotomy of the embarrassing defeat coupled with the elation of the gargantuan victory–did that just happen? Did I just get double-skunked? And what is the appropriate response when one’s good friend cleans his clock on the cribbage board?! I know what we’d do now–crack a beer and wheel the paper–but it was 2 PM in the afternoon. And I don’t think I had any beer.
To commemorate that win, those times and our friendship, Varn crafted me the only Luther College Cribbage Board in existence. It has been featured on this blog before, but it was made late in 2004 and given as a gift at Christmas. It is a thing of beauty, finished and sanded and sharp, smooth to the touch and cut in perfect symmetry in the shape of Luther’s faceless Viking helmet. If I were a wood-smith, I’d have better words to describe it. For the next two and a half years of college, I always mounted it on a wall within an arm’s reach of wherever the cards were stored.
Varn is currently saving lives in the NICU as a registered nurse in Providence Alaska Medical Center, downtown Anchorage. We’ve managed to keep in touch about as much as a guy in Alaska and a guy in Minnesota can; I had hoped to visit him three summers ago while my brother worked outside Anchorage, but timing and resources simply didn’t make it possible. I hope to make it to Alaska sometime in the foreseeable future, see Varney again, learn about his life since college and see where’s going. I can’t imagine a better way for us to do that than to play some 15-2 on one of the most unique boards I’ve ever seen. Thanks for the memories, Varn!
Have YOU ever been double skunked?