Those who can’t do teach” is a time-honored axiom. It certainly fits my becoming a Bridge instructor at the Forest Park Public Library. The first Bridge for Beginners class is on Sept. 21, from 7-9 p.m.
I’m a mediocre player but I know more than novices, and I had a similar gig at the community center a few years ago. We filled several tables with players and some of my former students are still playing Bridge on Tuesday mornings.
For that class, I provided students with typewritten sheets containing Bridge basics (librarian Sarah Beth Warshauer is using the computer to bring my cheat sheet into the digital age for the library’s class.)
For some time now, Sara Beth’s been looking for the library to offer more community-minded social activities, like Scrabble and Trivia Night, so Bridge is a perfect fit.
Sarah Beth always wanted to learn the game, because it’s popular with her grandparents, and aunts and uncles. She was also looking for a game to play with friends at dinner parties. As host of the library’s Bridge night, she’s enticing players to come by offering non-messy snacks.
I have a long, complicated relationship with Bridge. Forced to learn at age seven, I was traumatized at many a card table. It was tough enough to hold 13 cards, let alone play the right one. My adult partner would roll their eyes at my bids and glare at me while I played the hand. I wasn’t the only victim. My sisters still cringe at the mention of Bridge.
It didn’t get any easier in adulthood. I played duplicate Bridge with my parents in large rooms where no one cracked a smile. I was also at the mercy of a cranky uncle, who no one else would partner with.
Bridge, of course, had its lighter moments, too. None lighter than the Friday afternoons we played at our office on Circle Avenue. We had a perfect system. Reports and invoices went out, checks went home and my uncle wasn’t there.
I tried to interest my friends in learning Bridge, once luring them over with leg of lamb. After dinner, they weren’t interested in playing what I call the “chess of card games.” Unable to find players in my age group, I mostly played with people who had mastered the game during the Great Depression.
My father had warm memories of that dark era. He recalled an America whose citizens had simpler values and were not as materialistic as we are today. Family life was often at the center of everything, and people had plenty of time for Bridge games. I believe we’re facing similar circumstances now: having friends over for dinner and Bridge can be both cozy and cost-effective.
The greatest reward for a so-so player like me is introducing people to an endlessly challenging game that could improve their social lives. And students will likely get some satisfaction out of kicking my butt after a few classes.
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.