From the category archives:

Mah jongg


by Marinka on June 7, 2014

The other night I won three games in a row at mah jongg, improving considerably my 2014 record of winning zero games in a row. The thing about me and winning is that for reasons that science cannot yet identify, once I win, I become completely intolerable. The wonderful, kind person that you’ve come to adore is transformed into a wonderful, kind person who cannot stop boasting about what a winner she is and lets you guess what exactly that means for you, you huge loser. Some people don’t like it. Who knows why, there are a lot of psychos out there.

So I won three games in a row at mah jongg, and after I made sure that my mah jongg group bowed at my feet, I decided to take my boasting outside the confines of the group. And not just because the group asked me to leave. Politely, of course, but there was no mistaking their ugly jealousy. Ugly loser jealousy.

I called a friend of mine to let him know the good news.

“Guess what!” I said and before he had the chance to guess incorrectly, I told him about my winning mah jongg three times in a row.

“What’s mah jongg?” He asked, probably because as a way of buying time to come to terms with what a huge winner I was.

“Mah jongg is an ancient tile game that’s based on skill and good looks,” I explained. To be fair, I’m not that great at explaining what mah jongg is. I’m much better at winning at mah jongg. It’s sort of my thing.

And then this friend said something that was so hysterical that I still tear up thinking about it.

He said- oh, excuse me, there’s something in my eye. He said “I can master this game and beat you at it.”

Now I don’t know if he has some sort of Tourette or some other condition that makes him blurt out inane shit, but I just laughed merrily. I won thrice, after all. Which is practically the Triple Crown, except no one was going to make glue out of me. Probably. Hopefully.

But then he mentioned it again, and you know what? It sort of started to chafe at my three games in a row win. Like the only reason I won (THREE TIMES) is that he, the Gary Fisher of mah jongg, wasn’t there throwing tiles. So I said, GAME FUCKING ON.

So few days ago, some (loser) mah jongg friends and I gathered to teach him the art of mah jongg. I was confident in my prowess as a mah jongg champion, but because it never hurts to have a little help, I suggested to these friends that we make a few “mistakes” in teaching him. Mistakes that would lead to confusion and most importantly, losing. This is what we refer to as “insurance” in the industry, but apparently my friends had recently became Jehova’s Witnesses because they were all “why would we lie?” and “why would we cheat like that?” And look, I don’t mean to be all judgmental, but there are people who understand exactly why you’d lie and cheat and I’m sorry to say that these women were not in that category. And I didn’t have the energy to explain it to them.

“Well, obviously, I don’t want to do that,” I lied while stuffing a few tiles in my bra. “I just wanted to throw it out there in case you guys wanted to!”

We said no more about it and trained this guy. Unfortunately, he was a quick study and without my insurance policy, he soon won the first game.

We call this “beginner’s luck” and cross-file it under “Fuck it, where is the justice in this world?!”

“I won my first game,” he said.

Personally, I don’t understand people who boast like that. But I guess some people feel better about themselves when they do it.


Ever wonder what winners read? I’m over at Alpha Mom, discussing “David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell.


The Friendship Club

by Marinka on April 28, 2013

When you get to be my age, it’s hard to make new friends.

I used to blame myself.

Maybe it was my personality. Either that or my general dislike of other people. I know it’s hard to believe, but some are really turned off by that. I don’t get it either. Assholes.

But I now have proof that my difficulty in friendship formation is totally not my fault.

I will explain everything and you will agree with me.

A few months ago, I met a new woman in my mah jongg group.

“Hello,” I said. “It is very nice to meet you!”

She returned my friendly and appropriate greeting and we had some small talk. Some mah jongg banter- how she hoped one day to have my prowess as a player and how she felt lucky to be sitting at the same table as me. Words to that effect, I don’t have the exact transcript.

I’d see her occasionally and it was always nice and pleasant and I started to think of her as a Friend of the Future, someone I could maybe have a cup of coffee with or borrow money from.

This is how friendship formation works, right? You get together around a common interest, exchange pleasantries and then change your relationship status to Friends on Facebook.

Well, apparently this Friend of the Future did not study the Friendship Rulebook.
Because Chapter One of the Friendship Rulebook is Tell Your Friend of the Future Important Information.

I knew that her husband was a writer, but it wasn’t until she mentioned that he’d written a memoir that my ears perked up. As you may remember, I’ve been writing a memoir for the past couple of years, and I figured if he’d already written one, maybe I can just change a few things around in his manuscript and save myself a lot of time and headaches. I’d recently started playing Candy Crush on my iPhone and it’s crazy what a commitment that is.

I went home and looked up his book.


And then I knew instantly why this Friendship of the Future was doomed.

Because friends don’t marry their potential future friend’s high school pretend husbands.

I explained all this to my husband.

“What are you talking about?” he asked. He may have also asked why I was talking while he was trying to sleep, but I’m trying to stay on point.

“She’s married to Blane McDonnagh,” I lamented.

“I don’t know who that is,” he yawned.

If there’s one thing that gets on my nerves, it’s people who take their time waking up in the middle of the night.

“That’s a character from Pretty in Pink,” I explained. Why does everything have to be spelled out? I’m like Annie Sullivan.

“Is that one of those ridiculous Real Housewives shows?” Poor thing. He was trying.

“It’s a John Hughes movie from the 80s.” I was close to giving up.

“And your friend married a character from the movie?”

“Have you not heard one word I screeched?” I asked him. “First of all, she’s a pre-friend, and no, she didn’t marry a movie character, she married the actor who portrayed him, in case you forgot how movies work, and by the way, I wanted to marry him when I was in high school.”

“I certainly hope you can forgive her this transgression,” he said.

And I tried.

I thought about it for hours and finally decided to air it out.

“I got the book,” I emailed her in what I hoped was a terse tone, “and you are now on friendship probation.”

She responded with some confusion about why she was on friendship probation. And then when I went out of my way I explained it to her, she still refused to take responsibility for ruining my life.

I honestly don’t understand how I’m supposed to make new friends under these hostile circumstances.

Or how I can remain married to someone who’d never heard of Pretty in Pink.



November 18, 2012

As some of you know, I’m in a cult. Well, what I mean is I get together with a group of women and we play mah jongg for hours and hours, but cult has a certain ring to it. And the other night we were playing with a new recruit and she suddenly looked at […]

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The Color Orange

November 5, 2012

The other day I was playing mah jongg at a friend’s house and fell in love with her cat, an orange tabby. I’ve always wanted an orange tabby. I came home and told my husband my tale of woe. “What are you talking about?” he said, “Nicki is an orange tabby.” Here is a recent […]

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Conversation with my Husband (as opposed to with your husband)

October 12, 2012

“Hey, you want to have dinner on Friday night?” “I thought you had a mah jongg game then.” “We were going to, but then not enough people were available, so it’s off.” “It seems like you haven’t played in a while.” “I know.” “Do you think they’re playing without you and are hoping that you’ll […]

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The Blogger’s Mile High Club

March 2, 2012

I am writing this post from very high up in the sky. No, I’m not in Heaven (this better not be, I just paid $7 for a Chardonnay). I’m on an airplane, going to Miami, where I am meeting some friends to play mah jongg. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? When Young Ladrinka asked me why […]

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January 23, 2012

I am planning on going to Miami in March. To play mah jongg with my mah jongg playing friends and possibly become a Golden Girl. I started playing mah jongg again last year with a new group of people and to celebrate my addition to the group the ladies suggested that we fly some place […]

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