Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Pan Player+. This entry in the "Aunt Sophie" series covers pan (or panguingue), which is a multi-player form of rummy, often played for money.
Aunt Sophie visits the sick
I heard a knock at the door, followed by a familiar voice. “Yoo hoo, Dollink,” said the voice, “it’s me. Can I come in?”
“Come on in,” I groaned. “The door’s open. I don’t think I can get up.”
Aunt Sophie entered, carrying a bed tray on which were a large soup tureen, a tea pot, a container of Jackson’s of Piccadilly Earl Grey Tea, and a loaf of Levy’s Real Jewish Rye. She took a bowl from the cupboard, and ladeled hot soup into it. She popped two slices of rye into the toaster oven, filled the kettle, and put it on the stove. She went back out, returning a moment later, arms laden with grocery bags. These she set on the kitchen table, and proceeded to unload them into the refrigerator and freezer.
The smell of chicken soup filled the apartment. I hadn’t said anything for a while, just stared blearily, amazed.
“Aunt Sophie,” I finally exclaimed wearily, “I can’t eat all that stuff. I’m sick. I think I have the flu.”
“Tsatskeleh, I know,” she responded. “That’s why I’m here. My chicken soup should have you feeling better in no time. And so you don’t eat anything heavy, a little tea and toast I got for you.” My mind and stomach were reeling as she rambled on. “I know you’re not up to it now, but I brought you a few things for your freezer for when you’re feeling better. I didn’t think you’d feel like cooking, but, when you’re up to it, you’ll pop something in the microwave. I made up several ramekins, so you don’t have to do any cooking. I made Tipsy Brisket and latkes, some of my sweet and sour cabbage, a roast chicken, a veal roast with mashed potatoes and gravy, some barley soup, and a few other things. Now come on, first a glazel varmss with some of your favorite tea, and then, if you keep that down, a bissel soup.”
“Aunt Sophie,” I protested, “I’m not up to it. I feel horrible. It’s that 24-hour flu that’s going around.”
“Shah,” she soothed. “A bite you’ll have, and then a bit more, and you’ll see, soon you’ll get your strength back. Trust me: I know. Haven’t I taken care of you most of your life?” She set the tray on the bed, its feet straddling my chest. The tea smelled good, and I took a tentative sip, along with a nibble of the toast.
“I won’t be staying long,” she offered, bringing the soup bowl to the tray. “I just want to make sure you’re okay, and have a little nourishment in you. And maybe a little conversation we’ll have, to maybe cheer you up.”
“Aunt Sophie,” I rasped, “it will not cheer me up to have you kvetching about your pan game, nor am I up to any advice.”
“Dear boy,” she chided, “what do you think I am? I came over to help you. I can see you’re not able to take care of yourself.” She glanced around the room, eyes lingering on the pile of dirty laundry in the corner. “Don’t worry, I’ll do the washing for you, and iron you a few shirts so you’ll have something to wear when you’re up to showing your face out the door again. You know, you really need a wife to do these things for you. Not that I mind, of course, it’s just that I won’t last forever.”
“Never mind about that,” I growled.
“You know,” she persisted, “today I saw Mrs. Slivovitz with her fourth grandchild. It would be so nice to have my own grandnephew or -niece. Boy, all that stuff I brought in for you was hard to hold. You know, I’m starting to get arthritis in my hands. Of course, I don’t mind carrying all the heavy stuff. Heaven knows, I’m not complaining, but it would sure be nice if you had someone to care for you. I’m not going to last forever, you know.”
I was too weak to argue.
“You know,” she continued, “I bought this book. Free Money, it’s called. It’s all about how to win in the cardrooms of California. It has good advice about poker, but who’d want to try to make money at poker when they could play pan?”
“Aunt Sophie,” I managed to gasp, “I will give you some pan advice, which I wasn’t going to do. Don’t play poker; you’ll only lose if you don’t get some help, and I’m not up to coaching you right now. So go play pan, don’t lose all your money, but please leave me to die in peace. I’ll talk to you in a few days when I feel better. And thanks for the stuff.”