When Enlightenment Just Isn't in the Cards

By Mia Geiger
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, October 20, 2008

It all started at the library. After digging around in the big plastic box filled with pencils, stickers and other rewards for diligent readers, my daughter ran over to me.

"Mommy, I got my prize!"

I looked at the card game in her hand and cringed.

Old Maid.

We already have this at home, I told her.

Yes, she said, but it's been missing a long time.

Technically, this is true. The game is hidden in the basement. A while back I had picked up a pack of Old Maid at a yard sale. It was still in the wrapper and 25 cents. Brand new! A bargain!

But after I got home, I remembered why I hadn't bought this card game before. Did I want to teach my young daughter what an "old maid" was? But she saw me bring it into the house and wanted to play. After one or two games, I "accidentally" misplaced it. When she asked to play again, I said I wasn't sure where it was, and secretly hoped she'd forget about it. Which, in all her sweetness, she did.

Now here I was, a year later, face to face with the game of Old Maid.

When I really stop to think about the game, I'm confused. Where is the "Old Bachelor" game? Bachelor, though, carries with it visions of fun and frolic, big-screen TVs and beers all around. Given that attitude, toy companies would have to change the focus of the card game from being "stuck" with the bachelor to winning with the bachelor.

The rest of the Old Maid deck features a person with his or her occupation depicted. There's "Waitress Wendy," joyfully carrying a plate high in the air, topped with a burger and drink; and "Cookie Connie," tripping on the ground, a pie slipping out of her oven-mitted hands.

Happily, the deck includes "Labtech Lil," "Artist Annie" and "Tutu Terri." No "Doctor Debbie" or "Physicist Phyllis," but I'm glad to see the arts represented and a segment of the medical profession addressed. The guys are "Quarterback Jack," "Fisherman Fred" and "Moonwalker Wally."

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