For nearly 10 years now, people have been asking me to learn this game. And for 10 years, even though I have a beautiful retro set from my grandmother, I have said, “No, I do not want to learn. Thank you.”
So, now, after my second lesson and two winning games (albeit open hands with lots of help) I am trying to understand what kept me from this game before.
Before I tell you the revelations that I’ve excavated from the recesses of my odd little mind about what my problem is with Mahjong, I want to tell you what I’ve learned and what I like about this game.
What I’ve learned:
- Suits don’t have to look alike to be alike. Be one with the suit.
- A dragon can look like a bar soap instead of like a dragon.
- Crak is not an illicit drug.
- Bam is not just what Emeril says.
- Four different tiles put together are not necessarily a set.
- Flowers all look different. But they’re the same.
- Left, across, right, across, left, left stacked…. (I think?)
- If you’re the one who dumps the tile that makes someone else win? You pay double.
- Stick to one area of the card.
- Relax. And don’t commit too early.
- It’s hard to remember how much trail mix you eat when you’re concentrating on the hand.
- Playing hooky rocks.
- It sure is fun to be with friends for a couple hours with no distractions.
- I sure appreciate my patient teacher.
Back to the scheduled programming. Why I resisted learning this game for so many years. I think I might have figured it out. First of all, that tile mixing makes the most distinctive (and annoying) sound. It brought back memories of my childhood. I hate that sound.
And until recently, I didn’t know anyone younger than my mother’s generation that played mahjong. And though my mother played when she was younger than me, I had no perspective. So to me, only older women played. I imagined more of my grandmother and her friends clicking their tiles at the club.
And it seemed to me that people had games every week. More than one time a week. Surely, I couldn’t imagine signing up for a hobby that was that frequent. No time! Plus, it felt like a secret club. Know what I mean?
So why did I relent?
I don’t know. Maybe I wanted to be in a secret club. Maybe I just got asked at the right moment when the stars were aligned. Maybe I figured I’d be losing my hearing soon and the tile-sounds wouldn’t bother me for long. Maybe my schedule opened up.
I have no clue.
But if it keeps being fun, I’ll keep playing.