A Secret Grave 37: Playing Games


I had high hopes for myself learning mahjong. Once I put my mind to something I can usually do it. But while I understood the game’s concept and even some of its finer points,  I just couldn’t focus on details long enough to be an effective player. The clack of the tiles distracted me. What the women were saying. The speed of their beringed fingers picking up and discarding pieces. The names themselves: Sticks, Dots, Cracks, Winds.


Maj 2 PS


There were four players plus a number of women sitting around kibitzing, so really it was like a party. Lots of munchies – popcorn, nuts, m&ms, veggies with elaborate dips, pretzels, olives, cookies, mints. I’m a good kibitzer, so that part was fine. But there was instant friction between me and the hostess, a woman I’ll call Mme X because she made it clear from the start that I was not to write about her or her house on my blog. So all I’ll say is this: the house, situated in Westlake, was magazine cover beautiful. And Mme X herself, in a white silk blouse and creamy pearls, bright red nails, platinum hair, skinny Pilates body, was the kind of beautiful featured in society columns. (In fact, she is often featured in society columns, but I’m keeping my mouth shut.)


Mme X blurred

Mme X


Anyway, the most important person in the room for me was Betsy Shapiro who herself looked very beautiful in a clingy black dress and thick gold bangles that clacked together every time her hand shot out to pick up a tile. She was a serious player – you could see that from her brow knit in concentration and the tight set of her Angelina Jolie mouth. I spent a good deal of the evening trying to think of a way to engage her in conversation. I could ask about her new headhunting business. Or about buying a house for one of my children. Or about getting on a committee to help with next year’s mental health gala, her big thing. Finally I said: “How’s Ranger?”

She glanced up at me, confused.

“Victor’s dog. You said you took him after Victor disappeared.”

“Who’s Victor?” asked one of the women.

Margot gave me a secret little wink. She was the one who’d brought me to the game. “This guy who was a fabulous healer,” she said, discarding a tile.

“Oh is he the one who cured your daughter Gigi’s alopecia?” said Mme X.

“Yes, I kept telling you to go see him for that little problem you had, remember?”

“What little problem?” asked the first woman.

“Fungus toe nail,” said Mme X. “How’d he disappear?”

Silence for a moment. Then Margot said: “Ask Betsy. She was his landlady.”

All eyes turned on Betsy who had that butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-your-mouth look as she reached with a clack of bangles and picked up a tile.


Lips & Skin



To be continued…


Cover photo ~ Mahjong auf dem Dach, Stefan Weiß, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/


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