Game: From Old English gamen, amusement, jest, pastime.

I was invited to a birthday party in Butler, Pennsylvania, when I was 6 or 7. I was allowed to walk across Elm Street by myself. My mom had wrapped up a gift.  I could hear the excitement of the other kids even before I knocked on the door. It sounded like fun.

Someone took the present and placed it on a table in the dining room. A few girls looked me over and asked if I wanted to play “52 Pick Up.” Sure, I said. I so wanted to fit in.

I soon realized that I was the game in the game. The tallest girl said, “OK,” and threw the pack of cards all over the porch floor. “Go ahead, pick them up. There’s 52 there.” Laughter from the crowd as I knelt down to begin to “play the game.” Soon the girls drifted into the living room as I continued to pick up 52 cards, which had flown everywhere – under the chair, under the glider and under the table.

Finally, I’d put them back in the box and handed it to the tallest girl. She barely looked at me and put the cards in a drawer. Another group was playing “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.” Lots of laughter as the blindfolded one had the tail hanging from the donkey’s nose. By the time cake and ice cream came, I was having fun, too.

“52 Pick Up” taught me many things, some of which still resonate as I soon turn 81. Don’t say “yes” to anything you don’t understand. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain, so to speak. Don’t be embarrassed by foolish games. You will survive. Wisdom is worth the temporary pain.

Phone and internet scammers play “52 Pick Up” every day, especially with the elderly and shut-ins. Once we say “yes,” they can barely contain their laughter. We’ve been had. We’ve been gamed. We’ve lost money. So this early introduction to “52 Pick Up” taught me a lot. I never played it again.

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