Grandma’s Card Trick


When I was small, maybe only ten, I was at my Grandma Gray’s house for Thanksgiving.

“Do you know how to play 52 Pick-Up?” she asked, shuffling the cards in her hands. She had one eyebrow raised, expectantly.

“No, what’s that game?” I asked. I was sitting cross-legged at her feet, while she reclined on the blue-and-green checked futon. She had an orange pillow behind her, and her cat by her side. The futon has since been moved to the living room, but the orange pillows still reside on the new sofa in the family room. It was on these pillows she was propped upon, and eyed me shrewdly.

“You’ll only ever play it once.”

I was intrigued. What sort of game did you only play once? Was it secret? Did winning or losing determine if you were worthy of playing it again? What sort of fancy card game was this??

“Really?” I asked excitedly. “Why?”

“You’ll only want to play it once.”

“What if I want to play it again? I might like it.”

She laughed. “No one likes this game.”

“But I might,” I said indignantly.

“Fine,” she said, smiling. “We’ll play. Are you ready?”

I nodded my head enthusiastically and scooted closer to her. She, with great solemnity, aligned the cards into one stack, and placed them in one palm. Curling her thumb over the topmost card, she lifted the deck until they faced me, her hand showing the number “four” with the cards nestled between her thumb and her palm. I held my breath in anticipation. Slowly, she placed her middle finger on top of the cards and her pointer finger behind.

Then she flicked the cards. With a plbthtbth sound, the entire deck flew about the room.

Cards sprayed everywhere. Under the futon, over the coffee table, even on top of her eclectic DVD collection.

My jaw dropped.

Grandma laughed, startling the cat who blinked sleepily at her. “There are the 52 cards,” she grinned. “Now pick them up!”

I pouted.

She smirked. “Do you want to play again?”

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