As I’ve mentioned before, three friends and I have been invested in a year-long battle with our brains (and sometimes each other) to learn how to play bridge. Lately, we’ve taken to including a few fellas when we need a fourth or want to mix things up (my parents always played with other couples, after all), but most often, it’s just us girls. In the absence of any real instructor, we’ve learned what we know from books and the shared wisdom of moms, dads, aunts and grandmothers. (My aunt, who’s learning how to play with girlfriends in Atlanta, does have an instructor but I sent her one of the books we love and she consults it when her codgety teacher becomes too intimidating to question further.) If my group and I lived anywhere near Florida, however, Maggy Simony is the lady we’d ask for help.
Last night, Maggy commented on my last bridge post, asking about our ages and progress and passing along her web site for reference. Turns out, she’s a 90-year old bridge expert veteran who says her “unlikely end-of-life cause is the preservation of ‘sociable’ bridge.'” Sociable bridge–so there IS a name for what we’re doing! As opposed to “serious” bridge, which has an official governing body and is kind of intense and unemotional, sociable bridge is about more than just the game; it’s also about women playing and cooking and laughing together. As Ms. Maggy says in the book she published last year, Bridge Table or What’s Trump Anyway, “It took two women’s movements of the 19th century merged with a classic card game to create the ladies-only bridge club tradition. It deserves to survive another hundred years.”
I have to admit, I love that my husband has taken an interest in bridge. Playing cards together is such a simple, pure kind of group activity that makes me feel smarter and, I don’t know, more wholesome somehow. But there is a definite difference between playing with the girls and playing with the boys. And no one articulates that better than a 90-year old card-carrying historian of ladies’ bridge culture.