We had just finished lunch at my Wifey’s parents house. The taste of spicy curry was still swirling in my mouth. The kids were screaming and running around the freezing pool outside, trying to escape the humidity of the evaporative air-conditioning.
It was suggested that we play some Mah Johngg, a Chinese tile based game sort of like Gin Rummy. I had played before when I was a kid, but I have always been apprehensive to play with the Aunties. My speed of play would be too slow for them, they’d have to explain the rules to me, and help me read the Chinese characters that I can’t read.
But I was allowed in! I quickly tried to memorise all the numeric character tiles. I couldn’t be bothered about the winds.
And then it was on. A whole $1 at stake!
At the end of the first round, I was up 30 cents! The aunties couldn’t believe it. Beginner’s luck? How could this Australian born Chinese even know how to play mah jongg? Was it bad for me to win? Would that be disgracing the older generation? I didn’t care – I made 30 cents and I could feel the tendrils of gambling addiction starting to creep into my body.
Suddenly I won another 40 cents! Small fry think the Aunties. Aunty across from me said she’s going in for the kill. No point winning little bits at a time with a small number of doubles. The real way to play is to win really really BIG.
The afternoon was moving along and Wifey was starting to nag me to leave. But I thought – one more game – I was up nearly a whole dollar!
But boy was that a bad decision – said Aunty across from me wiped us all out. Suddenly I was down like 5 cents. Where had my beginner’s luck gone? Had Wifey stolen it with bad karma by saying I sholdn’t have played this round?
Wifey said I really had to go now before I lost more money and I reluctantly complied. My mother-in-law took my spot and promised to win back big for us.
On the drive home, I got an email saying she had won BIG for us! Ahh.. I really am still a grasshopper – a young padawan Mah Jongg player with much to learn.