11 November 2011

go fish

I was drinking black coffee out of a white IKEA coffee cup. It came in a set of six—along with six blue and white saucers—for one of those impossible IKEA prices, like $3.00 or something.

When you're first setting up house, it's difficult to ignore the siren song of IKEA, beckoning to you just off the expressway, and it's only much later that you realize that nice furniture doesn't involve fake wood veneer that can peel off, nor is it made of compressed layers of something that was, perhaps, maybe at one time, wood.

Or those compressed layers that are making up your stylish yet frustrating-to-assemble bookcase {why isn't the faceless IKEA man on the directions ever shown fighting with the person who's trying to help him assemble the furniture? Because that happens all the time and is pretty much part of the process}—those layers could just be scraps of Swedish newspaper that have been skiied over by blonde-headed Swedish people as they chant in practically unaccented English about how they will draw America's youth to them with promises of cheap meatballs.

But these white coffee cups from IKEA have stood the test of time and two moves. In IKEA world, they are heirlooms now.

I was drinking out of one when I suddenly thought of Grandma Walker. It was the black coffee in it that reminded me, I think.

She had coffee throughout the day, I seem to recall, and it was always black. My grandparents had these milky glass mugs that showed the faintest outline of the coffee through as she drank cup after cup.

Grandma Walker would always have a cup of black coffee on the kitchen table as we played Go Fish when I was just a very little girl. Because my hands weren't big enough to hold all the cards, I would use the swivel kitchen chair as my card stand. I'd swing the chair around so that the back was facing the table.

High-backed, no arms, and covered in a light brown plasticky material that made them easy to clean, those chairs were set-up for me to play cards.

I'd crouch on the chair, studying my carefully-arranged cards—they were propped up in between the seat and the back—and peek around the side to study my grandma, to see if she was giving away any clues in her face.

Glancing out the kitchen window: did that mean she had 3s?

Looking at the orange and brown flowered wallpaper: maybe it meant she had no 3s?

Hard to tell. My grandma's thin but sturdy face and milky eyes rarely betrayed a tell.

I'd pop above the back of the chair as she took another drink of her coffee. "Do you have any 3s, Grandma?"

"Go fish," she'd say.


"Oh, you got me! Here you go," she'd say.

And I'd retreat to my hiding place to study her some more and wonder if I'd ever like coffee as much as she did.

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