- Some Call It Luck - Chapter 23by Jim Wile
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E.J. and Abby play bridge for the first time.
Some Call It Luck
: Some Call It Luck - Chapter 23 by Jim Wile

A brilliant and beautiful but insecure, nerdy young woman befriends a going nowhere older alcoholic caddie. Together, they bring out the best in each other and collaborate on a startling new invention

continuation of the chapter E.J. Budrowski - August, 1986
(E.J. feels ready to try an actual game of bridge after reading Abby's books, and she has just left to go set up the game.)
I watched her walk away. I couldn’t help being attracted to her beauty, but I could never act on it. I’m almost twice her age, and way out of her league in terms of desirability. She deserves someone who doesn’t have all my baggage and has a better future in store for him. Plus, I wouldn’t want to jeopardize our budding friendship in any way. I’m content just to look.

After I took the bus home, I ran upstairs to take a shower and neaten myself up. As I said before, I look a little like Ratso Rizzo, but he was able to clean up in the movie, so I tried to improve my appearance. After my shower, I did my best to comb out my longish hair. Tomorrow, I promised myself to go get a haircut since this mop was difficult to make look very good. I ended up putting a lot of grease in it and combing it straight back. I shaved my three days’ worth of stubble, then put on my cleanest shirt and pants and some old penny loafers I kept in the bottom of my footlocker. I was barely presentable, but it would have to do.

I still had about 15 minutes before Abby would be here, so I headed down and out of the building. I made my way over to Bohack’s food store on the next block and picked up a bag of potato chips to bring over to Abby’s, then I headed back to Lee’s Laundry to wait for her. In about two minutes she drove up, and we rode over to her place.

She lived in an august old neighborhood near Brentwood. She had an apartment for the summer months over the garage of her Aunt Helen’s house. It turned out that her great aunt was Helen Olsen who, along with her husband, were members at Brentwood. I had caddied for them both. It was her husband whose clubs I had lost in the pond that time, and I wasn’t so sure Mrs. Olsen would want to be socializing with me at the bridge game tonight; she was so above my station in life. But she proved to be very gracious and welcomed me to the game.

I handed Abby the bag of potato chips when we got in. She thanked me and put them in a bowl for us to snack on while we played. She had some other things to munch on too.

Pretty soon, the other member of our group arrived. “E.J., this is my friend, Marj,” said Mrs. Olsen. “Marj, this is E.J. Budrowski. He’s new to the game of bridge.

“Hello, E.J. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Thanks, Mrs…. ”

“It’s Honeywell, but Marj is just fine.”

“For that matter, you can call me Helen too,” said Mrs. Olsen.

“I feel kind of funny about that, Mrs. Olsen. If I slip up and call you that at the club, it could be very uncomfortable for us.”

“Well, call me whatever you want, E.J.”

“Marj is just fine with me,” said Marj. “What does E.J. stand for anyway?”

“Edward Joseph, but I’ve always been just E.J.”

With introductions out of the way, we sat down then and cut for partners. I knew nothing about the etiquette of the game and had to be taught almost everything: about dealing and shuffling, where to place the cards after shuffling the deck just played with while the dealer deals out the other deck, how to stack the tricks so you can tell the status of the hand, and all sorts of other things like that. But it all made sense, and after a while, I got the hang of it.

We switched partners after each rubber (which sounds awfully risqué unless you know bridge parlance. A rubber is a pair of games: another unit of play.) Thus, we got to play with each other three separate times that night.

Abby and I seemed to play the best together, which is understandable, because she was a really good player. When we totaled up the points for the night, she came in first by a long shot, and, surprisingly, I came in second. I couldn’t believe how fast the time went, and it was 10:30 by the time we were done. I’d been so absorbed in the game that I didn’t think even once about having a drink, but now that it was over, I began getting that craving again.

I thanked Abby and Mrs. Olsen and Marj for having me over, and they all agreed we should do it again soon—perhaps next week. We said goodbye and Abby and I headed down to her car.

On the way back home, we discussed the game. Abby said, “I can’t believe how quickly you’ve picked it up, E.J. And you just started reading about it yesterday. Incredible!”

“Yeah, I just love the logic of it. You have to plan out each hand. Then you have to really concentrate on what’s being played and draw inferences from it. It’s a terrific game.”

“Keep reading the books. There’s a whole lot more to learn. I have a feeling you’re going to become really good at it.”

“Well, thanks. I sure appreciate your letting me play with you tonight. You’re a whole lot better company than I usually keep.”

“That’s okay. We were happy to have you join us. We could try to make this a regular game if you think you’d like to do that? I know I would.”

“Yeah, I think I would like that.”

We spent the rest of the ride talking about different things. She told me about the types of courses she took for her math major, and I shared with her my love of mathematics too. We talked so easily together.

We finally arrived at my place. I thanked her again for the ride and for hosting the game. We said goodnight, and I headed upstairs to my apartment. I was starting to miss the alcohol now and headed straight for the bourbon, but soon realized I had finished the last bit earlier before the game. The liquor store was long since closed, so I had to make due with a couple of beers I kept in the refrigerator for just such “emergencies.”

I finished the beers, which helped settle my edginess, got undressed, and went to bed. I replayed one of the hands in my head on which I had gone down 2, but in thinking it over, I realized the mistake I’d made that cost me the contract. Dumb! Oh well, I was learning. I fell asleep thinking about another hand and slept soundly.

Author Notes
So, golf first and now bridge--two "shovels" to help him dig himself out of the hole he's been in for years. And, more importantly, a new friend in Abby.


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