The boys and I were enjoying an evening of five-card-draw with a side of morning glory pizza when Madam showed up. She usually avoided my card club nights, as a couple of our malodorous players could benefit from a proper bath. In any case, she pulled up a chair and settled in. It was Gabe’s turn to deal.
“So, I’ve been wondering about something,” said Madam, as she helped herself to a slice of pizza. “How many of you guys are working on your Plan A?”
Oh dear, here we go again.
Everyone paused mid-chew. Gabe laid down the cards and glanced around the table for a sign that anyone knew what she was talking about. Arrow eyed me with a bewildered expression. Omar gawked at Spruce. Gilbert, whose head barely cleared the table, fixed a befuddled gaze on Madam. She made a quick assessment of the baffled looks and started over.
“What I’d like you to do is raise your hoof if you started out life with a particular career or personal plan and, if so, are you still following that same plan?
Nobody raised a hoof. Since she and I had already covered this topic, she was now angling for a focus group with my entire poker club.
The boys pondered her question in silence. Finally I felt compelled to shout out an example for the others. “Well, one could say that I started out with a Plan A to win a million dollars on the racetrack,” I offered. “As you can see, this is no Hialeah Park.”
“Yup, that plan and your jockey bit the dirt at just about the same moment,” offered Spruce, with a louder-than-necessary guffaw. “And, if memory serves, you’re now a life coach to a jack Russell terrier. That’s quite a leap between plans, if you ask me.”
“How about you Gabe?” queried Madam.
“Hmm… I once enjoyed a brush with stardom riding to the hounds in Virginia,” he recalled wistfully. “Then someone got the bright idea that I’d be great at law enforcement. That ended when the Minnesota Twins won the World Series, and I got fired for sipping a brewski while working crowd control. Now I play a lot of cards and bet on all those horses that Noah left in the dust. Har Har.”
“And the rest of you?” asked Madam hopefully.
“Well, I once could jump over the moon,” exclaimed Spruce to nobody in particular. “That was until I blew my knee out chasing a possum out of the pasture. Now I hang out at Minnetonka Orchard giving tours and playing a little touch Hoofleball.”
On it went, until everyone at the table had described an adventure or misadventure that pointed him to Plan B, C or Z that eventually landed him at Fortuna Farm.
So, I couldn’t help wondering how things might have turned out had each of us not fallen off the rails and into the abyss of change. We’ll never know, but one thing’s for sure, I’d not be spending Monday nights playing five-card-draw with a grand bunch of pals, and a woman who shares our pizza.