The Other March Madness…

The Other March Madness…

The blog post I intended to write has been preempted by the early arrival of…is it necessary to even say the word??

It usually comes around March 31st/April 1st, and some of us plan our Maj games based on its expected ETA.

Non-players who nonetheless hear of its arrival, often ask, “why does it come at the end of March?” We Maj players don’t even ask the question, because it’s one of those things that just IS — like when a child asks his or her mother, “Why?” and the response is, “Because I said so.”

Of course there’s always a flurry of conversation when it first arrives, and then again when it’s on its way out. The sentiments of “Yay, it’s here,” quickly give way to, “I’m SO ready for a new one.” (I hope no one’s husband has ever walked by at the very moment this complaint is aired, as he might become alarmed)

Have you ever wondered how something so small can bring out such opposing views?
For instance, where one person loves the 3-6-9 section, another says, “Oy, the 3-6-9 section gives me a headache!” Or, “There’s no way to switch once you’ve exposed,” alongside, “The thing I love most about it is that it’s so easy to change hands.”

If the discussion gets really heated, best to beg off and say, “we’re not going to change each other’s minds, so we better just agree to disagree…” What happens when it arrives and no one supports it? Luckily, in my many years playing Maj, I have yet to experience a bipartisan revolt…

I’m a purist – I consider it a legal document, not to be messed with, altered, written on, defaced, amended, or anything else that changes its intent or purpose. I suppose you can call me an Originalist (only when it comes to Maj). I don’t even like getting it dirty; that’s why mine is encased in plastic, which may also be a symbolic gesture.

That’s why I’m surprised that upon its delivery–it’s one of the few things for which we still run to the mailbox– some players break out the yellow highlighter and mark all of the closed hands. I’ve always thought that the C at the end of the hand is enough of a reminder not to expose, however, everyone’s visual processing is different.

Others make little dots or check marks next to the hands once they’ve made them, which I suppose provides an incentive to make all of the hands during its 12-month life span.

I even have one friend who talks about how her ‘other group’ adds certain hands that don’t make the cut that year.

One of the things I appreciate about it is that it’s not electronic (my apologies to our East Coast comrades who kindly send us a sneak preview online). It’s something that we still touch, hold with both hands, read, study, fold up, and put away for safe keeping.

So why does it arrive at the end of March/beginning of April? The answer seems obvious: Springtime is the season of new beginnings–when plants sprout new growth and flowers are blooming. As the snow melts and the rain gives way to warm, sunny skies, we welcome it with open arms as it gives us a sense of transformation and renewal—of life’s and Mah Jongg’s endless possibilities.

I welcome your comments.


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