Shoot the Moon

My new life goal: find things I’m bad at and use them to my advantage.

Take card games. In the house I grew up in, several decks of cards with rubber bands around them were kept in a big steamer trunk in our den along with other games like Battleship and Monopoly. I could shuffle cards, and I knew about Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces. But I never played cards much except Go Fish.

Let’s talk about a game called Hearts. The name is ironic because in this game, hearts are bad. It should be called Heart Attack, or Heart Disease, or Your Heart’s Not Doing So Great Because You’ve Been Eating Nothing But Comfort Food Since March for Obvious Reasons. Catchy, no?

One weekend in 1999, I was playing Hearts with my husband and friends. I was frustrated. Here’s why: 

  1. The other players could simultaneously play the game, have a conversation about something other than the game, and recall what cards had been played.
  2. I do not have that kind of brain. It’s all I can do to play the next card and breathe. Chewing a piece of gum is out. Conversation is out. Winning is usually out.
  3. In this game, you try to get rid of hearts. But my friends kept passing me heart after heart. I had a handful.

“Another heart?” I said. “Are you kidding me? I’m glad we’re not playing for money.”

My friends joked about all my hearts. Then one of them got wide-eyed.

“Wait,” she said to her husband. “Do you have any hearts?”

“No,” he answered. “Do you?”

“No.” She turned to my husband. “You?” My husband shook his head.

“Does Wendy have all the hearts?”

An important rule in Hearts: If you have a lot of hearts, you can take a risk and keep hearts in your hand. If you end up with ALL the hearts, your opponents get a lot of points. That’s bad for them because Hearts is like golf: you want a low score.

If you can get all the hearts, it’s called Shooting the Moon. It has nothing to do with showing your naked hind end. That’s mooning. Not that I’ve ever done it.

(I’ve always been too sober for that. Not kidding. I didn’t drink in high school or college. I also took my Bible to homeroom. I left religious tracts in the bathroom at school. I was a piece o’ work. Ask Jesus. I drove him nuts. So how did such a religious person grow up in a household with decks of cards? We were Presbyterians. Enough said.)

“Wendy is going to shoot the moon!” exclaimed my friend.

I started to realize my situation and grinned.

“I have a lot of hearts! Good for me!”

More hearts came my way, and I won that hand the only way I win any game: the person who made the rules felt sorry for players like me. Hearts is my kind of game. If I play badly and have rotten luck, I win!

I think I’ll make this my resolution for the rest of the year. Find stuff I’m bad at and turn it to my advantage.

Sounds like a 2020 kind of resolution, no?

When did you Shoot the Moon? What are you bad at, but it turned out to be a good thing? Maybe you met a friend because they were good at the thing you’re bad at. Talk to me. I read every response.

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