Wiesenberg (s040 pan): Sophie quells kvetsch

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.

Michael Wiesenberg index.

Black and white photo of Michael Wiesenberg

Michael Wiesenberg

Aunt Sophie quells a quarrelsome kvetsch

“What do I do about a constant kvetsch?” queried Aunt Sophie, setting down on a poolside table beneath a large umbrella a tray that contained lunch for three.

“Hmm?” I mused, tearing my gaze away from Sophie’s second cousin Minnie’s niece, Sara. I was not the only man by the pool who kept watch to make sure the string bikini covered what it was supposed to.

“Yah,” Aunt Sophie whispered, “I see what you’re watching. Let’s get you a closer view.” Louder, she declaimed, “Sara! I got some lunch for us.”

“A little later, thanks, Sophie,” returned the naiad.


Aunt Sophie ladled red gazpacho into an ice filled, stemmed container in which nested a smaller glass hemisphere. She sprinkled parsley on the surface of the soup, and pressed a lemon wedge across the double rims. This she set before me, and helped herself to a similar serving. “What can we do,” she repeated, “about this constant kvetsch in the pan game? Always she complains nonstop, win or lose. Most of the time it’s lose, but that don’t make no difference. Kvetsch, kvetsch, kvetsch, all the time kvetsch. I can’t stand it. Neither can anyone else in the game.”

“Ah,” I responded, sampling the spicy concoction, “then you all concur in your opinion of this person?”

“Yes,” she assented, “we all do. I tell you, I feel sometimes like just getting up and quitting, so unpleasant she makes the game. And I know the others feel the same like I do. A story with every card she’s got, or, I should say, a complaint with every card. If I should call for a card, heaven forbid, she’s the first one to jump down my throat. And you know, ever since we had that conversation long ago about courtesy at the table, I hardly ever call for a card. Just once in a while when I’m on a big hand maybe I’ll forget myself and call once for a card. But once is about it, because then I remember your advice. But Mrs. Kvetsch, she don’t let it go, that I can tell you.”

“And what’s her name?” I questioned.

“Queenie Quillman,” Aunt Sophie replied, “only she’s more of a princess. Maybe a little old for a J.A.P., but a princess just the same. If she draws a smoker, let’s say it’s one of the three bum fives she’s got, she can’t just quietly dump the card in the muck. Oh no, she’s gotta pull the three fives out of her hand, saying, `I could use that card, y’know, if this dealer didn’t give me nothin but smokers all the time,’ and she slams those three fives down on the table for all of us to admire, as if anyone is interested in her goddamn cards.”

“Aunt Sophie!” I gasped, recoiling in horror. I could see she was really upset. This was not her normal language.


“Excuse me,” she offered, “but that woman just gets my sheep. And she’s one of those that’s always gotta sneak up on every card. She has a long pencil, you know, unsharpened, with a new eraser, and she uses the eraser to slide the cards off the deck. Each card she pulls over in front of her. And then she slowly lifts up one corner, and peeks at the card. You know she’s got these long red nails — she’s a beauty shop operator by trade, and I think she has a manicure every day — so it’s even harder for her to turn the cards up. In fact, I don’t know how the business runs, because she’s never in there, always playing pan, unless maybe she goes in before nine in the morning, because she’s always in the club by nine fifteen, before the game is full, so we can’t even keep her out by ourselves filling up the game. Probably her employees are happy she’s never in so they don’t have to put up with her. Where was I? Oh yeah, the card. She slowly, slowly turns it over, till I’m ready to scream, `Turn the stupid card up, Queenie! You’re supposed to play your cards face up in pan.’”

“Hasn’t anyone tried saying this to her?” I put in.

“Oh sure,” she answered, “someone did once, and nobody’s tried that again since. She just slowed down from a walk to reverse. Oy, and when she gets a hit, and it comes time to discard, she always can’t make up her stupid mind, and the action gets back to her. Sometimes the player on her left gets annoyed and turns up his card or mucks his discard before she’s even discarded from the last draw. Even with the edge of seeing the card coming to her she don’t know what to do half the time. And boy if someone goes out with her card, they’ll never hear the end of it. She refused to pay up when time when a card went over her head and put Marty Goldblum out. Not that the alte cocker deserves the money, but we couldn’t play another hand until the matter got resolved. It wasn’t until the pan manager came over and told her he’d cash her out if she didn’t pay off that she did. And she screamed at him too. I’m surprised he didn’t throw her out just on general principles.”

“Well,” I remarked, “the pan section puts up with a lot more than the poker section. I suppose that’s just because the players expect them to, or maybe they’re more used to it from pan players. I don’t know. She wouldn’t get away with that kind of action for long in the poker games. Particularly if she played in the size of poker games that correspond to the condition pan you’re playing. But, you know, I think I see a solution to your dilemma.”

“What?” she demanded. “I can’t stand it with this woman already.”

“Well,” I went on, “you’re sure all the players feel the same?”

“Yeah,” she confirmed. “They all agree. Many times I’ve heard one or another of them say when Queenie isn’t at the table they feel like quitting when she’s in the game.”

Get up

“Then that, my dear,” I continued, “is your solution. Do just that. I remember once, years ago, when I used to play in much smaller games there was one really obnoxious player whose personality grated on everyone. He deliberately needled the players, and was a sarcastic son-of-a-bitch. He took forever to make decisions. He never looked at his cards until the action had stopped on him. And, worst of all, he was the tightest player in the house. No redeeming social values. One time he went to the bathroom, and when he came back to the table, we all picked up our chips and hit the cage. We all then asked the floorman to put ourselves up for the next game he would be starting. About that time one more player walked in, and they started a new game for the eight of us without this fellow who was sitting all by himself at the table in astonishment. But you know, that guy had a hide like a rhinoceros. He put his name up for the new game. Fortunately no one left for a long time, and he eventually got seated in a different game. You might try the same thing at your table. Wait till she goes to the bathroom, and when she returns, all of you get up at once. But be careful about this. It’s not a very nice thing to do, and you might really hurt someone’s feelings who’s vulnerable. I wouldn’t want you to do it unless nothing else would work.”

“Don’t worry,” interjected Aunt Sophie, “this woman has no feelings to hurt. She likes being obnoxious. We’ve tried asking her nicely to speed it up. We’ve also tried not so nicely. Makes no difference. I don’t think anyone will feel in the least shy about leaving her to an empty table.”

About that time Sara emerged from the pool to join us for lunch, and I heard no more of Aunt Sophie’s conversation.

Note: There is no Aunt Sophie 041 in this series.
See Wiesenberg (s041): No entry (explanation)

Next: 042 Aunt Sophie goes cruising


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