It’s fascinating that the game of Mah Jongg reveals so much about who were are as people, a fact about which I’ve written in previous blogs. This holds true not only in how we play the game, but the importance we give the game.
It seems to me that we can divide Mah Jongg players into two categories:
1. The serious players
2. The not-so-serious players (those who enjoy the game, but don’t love it as much as the folks in category #1)
If you’re not sure which category best describes you, the examples below should reveal your true commitment to the game:
Cancelling in Favor of a Better Invitation: Are you someone who will cancel a Maj game because something else comes up? I have a friend who was invited to a fancy party where a famous Hollywood director was the guest of honor, however she turned down the event in favor of her weekly Maj game. We don’t have to guess which category she falls into. To her, the Maj game was the better invitation.
Finding a replacement: When someone in your maj group is sick and you’re left with only three players for tomorrow’s game, how hard do you work to get a substitute? Some players might say “let’s just cancel this week’s game.” However, if you go through your entire Maj rolodex to find a replacement (even if you’re not successful), your efforts are worthy of placement in category #1.
Impromptu Game: Most of us don’t do well with last minute plans. We’re much more comfortable when our activities are planned in advance. Therefore, if you’re a person who will call (or text) your Maj buddies on a Friday and say, “hey, it’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so who wants to play Maj,” I would consider you a serious Maj player.
Several years ago I was at a funeral reception that was winding down. A friend came up to me and said, “can you stay a while and play Maj?” I didn’t even have to think about it. After the rest of the guests went home, four of us (including the woman whose home we were at and whose family member had passed) enjoyed a spontaneous game of Maj. It actually was quite therapeutic for this woman, who chose to wind down a sad and stressful day by playing her favorite game with good friends.
Length of Play: If your weekly Maj game is from 5pm to 7pm with an hour devoted to dinner, you’re not a serious Maj player. I play in a game where we start at about 6 or 6:30pm. While this group loves to eat (and some are gourmet cooks), we prefer to eat while playing, rather than taking a break to dine. We’ve gotten quite adept at holding a plate with one hand, picking our tiles with the other. At 10:30pm, those who need to be up at 5am might yawn a bit, but we usually forge on until about 11pm, when eyes start closing and heads start hitting the table… The category into which we fall is rather obvious.
Number of Maj Games in One Day: In the unusual (or usual) event that you have two Maj games scheduled for one day (one in the morning/afternoon and one in the evening), do you say, “I can’t play Maj twice in one day?” Or, do you say, “I just need to get some exercise in between games, but what time do we start this evening?” No secrets here as to who belongs in which category.
Travel Time: I’ve spoken to Maj players who say to me, “really, you drive 30 minutes to play Maj?”
Their question shocks me. Being that Los Angeles is quite spread out, if you’re not willing to drive 30 minutes, your activities are quite limited. Work, friends, great restaurants, Dodger stadium, the beach – you name it, it’s 30 minutes away. So why on earth wouldn’t I drive 30 minutes to play Maj? Those who stay within a ‘10-minute-Maj-drive’ radius are not serious players.
The examples above are good indicators of basic Maj resolve, however this last example is like the SAT’s, LSAT’s and Bar Exam rolled into one:
It’s the Inclement Weather Test: Last Friday, when Los Angeles was hit with the worst storm in centuries (or so it seemed), a few of us braved the elements to drive “30 minutes” to a hotel to play Maj with a group of ladies. The heavy rain and fog (partially obscuring our view) didn’t stop us. Back spray from trucks and freeway spinouts didn’t stop us. Downed trees and major flooding didn’t stop us. I must say the drive was nerve wracking, but our driver was great – she simply turned her windshield wipers on full blast and we powered through Mother Nature’s ire to arrive at our Maj destination. Once we were back home safe and sound, I questioned the wisdom of venturing out that day. Did I really need to prove to myself that I belonged in the Serious Maj Player category? Probably not, but the lure of Maj was simply too powerful to resist.
I welcome your comments.