Life is all fun and games…
…until someone draws the 2 of Clubs.
Yeah, I’m speaking of the cards. In poker, the 2s appear in 4 out of the 5 worst hands. In war, the 2s almost always get the short end of the stick, unless you’re playing with someone who declares aces low. In cribbage, the 2 is just awkward enough… hard to play at 31 exactly, and requires many different matching scenarios to sum to 15. In hearts, the 2 of Clubs always starts the first trick and guarantees that the person who holds it does not have control over the next play.
It’s not fun to be the 2 of Clubs. You are sort of strange, awkward and not good for much at all. It can even be vulnerable at times, knowing that you are about to be played in a situation where you are going to get torn down.
I am not a betting person, so that explains why I do not really play poker. But to knock the 2 of Clubs full-stop without further consideration is a bit of a misstep. Precisely the 2 of Clubs is a card that makes these games interesting.
In War, the 2s are saboteurs, sneaking about, trying to go unnoticed. They seemingly lie dormant until critical junctures of a game nearing its end has a lucky turn. The person left with nothing other the King of Hearts and the 2 of Clubs can actually play for quite a while. Or there’s the person on the urge of winning, someone is down to their last 7, draws a war… and the 2 of Clubs emerges as the card that permits the King and Queen of Spades to enter into the underdog’s hand. The 2s make the game interesting and add to the color of the plot.
In Cribbage, playing a hand of 2s really just mixes up the strategy quite a bit. In a game where most of the sums work by 5 and 10, the 2s cause people to think a little differently, to pause, to strategize, to mix up the math, and to invite some personal consideration. A 2 does not go unnoticed, wheres a 5 might be unappreciated because it’s always there unless you have both a 4 and a 6, in which point there’s no way the hand is happy. A hand of 2, 4, 6, and 8 may lead to a classic “19” hand without getting a really good cut, but these low-scoring hands prolong the game and have a humor all of their own.
And in Hearts, the 2 of Clubs strikes out first, braving the elements, and providing order to an otherwise chaotic game. It almost always allows the person who received it in the deal to think really carefully about how they can take charge of the other plays in the game.
So yes, even the 2 of Clubs has its place, where it succeeds in making things interesting, adding color, and changing the tempo of the situation at hand. To be sure, it often works with less than ideal situations, but sometimes getting routed is exactly the deviant plot element in an otherwise convincing narrative.
It’s about perspective, not positive thinking. But it’s about attuning to the facet of reality that gives life even when we first see death.
And thus the sense of what it means to be a practicing human. We’re not going to get everything right, we might have awkward cards, but each serves a life-giving function, even as we might have to stand the situation on its head.