Any endeavor benefits from some fresh air once in a while. I’m so entrenched in research and writing that I often forget to take it easy, breathe a bit, and walk a little lighter. Lucky for me I remembered that on Friday. As I was leaving a downtown appointment on my way to catch the light rail into St. Paul, I passed a few gentleman playing crib outside Lyon’s Pub. It was a beautiful day, start of the holiday weekend, and I strolled on, thinking, “smart guys.” Half a block away I stopped, decided I had plenty of time to kill, and turned around, heading back down 6th street toward Hennepin Avenue and Lyon’s Pub. I interrupted them mid-peg. I introduced myself, said a few words about what I’m working on, and they invited me to sit for a game after they finished theirs. I guess that’s one thing about cribbage–it’s a universal language, provided you know how to count to 15 and 31. We settled into a 3-player game (what my family has always called cutthroat), with a little friendly wager on the side; $3 per loss, $6 per skunk, call it beer credit.
I only sat for a single game–a game which I lost by a good margin–although I did save skunk for respectability and a cool three bucks. I suppose you don’t anticipate a bar game with friends will be interrupted by a random passerby. I don’t know if I’ll make it to Lyon’s again soon, but I did make one important contact. A grandfather of one of the guys was a Japanese POW during World War II. He was incarcerated for over four years. During that time, however, his captors allowed him two things within the cell; a small bamboo shoot for which to fashion a cribbage board, and a scuffed deck of cards to go with it. We exchanged information, and hopefully will chat about it soon. You never know where this crazy game will take you.