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The Canasta Game

The Canasta Game

By Denise E. Heap

Photo and essay (c) 2002. All rights reserved. Please contact Denise for permission to quote or to use artwork.

Every teenager should have friends like these... This is what life is all about!

Thank you, John, Randall, Sherrill, Jody (you will always be Jody, not Joe), Chuckles, Wally Jo, Gwendolyn the Princess, Julie Andrews, Douggie, Dan T., Jeff, Geoff, dearest Barry, OMG Harry, hmm Larry, Sande, Sandy, Liz, Kathy, oh-Gordoni, Miz Minyard, Lester,  Dorie, Greg, Jules, Mitch, Donna, Anagram, Rose, Craig, George, Jillie, Pam, Marge, Teresa, Brain-I-mean-Brian (who is listed last but definitely was not least). Your friendship when we were young made me the adult I am today.

Whether it was:

    Canasta... Don't let John pick up the "pall"!

    Fiddler and Theater Under The Stars... Was that Barry whose wine bottle fell off during the Russian dance?

    TAGS Conventions... Chuckles climbs a tree, and twenty screaming Bears get stuck in an elevator.

    They call THAT a basketball team? ... But "we" almost won State anyway!

    The Sting... No, John, you did NOT know how it would end!

    Honey wine and Michelangelo's David... Thanks Miz M, for introducing us to the world.

    Mu Alpha Theta ... Jody's tutoring Math in Spanish? Wow!

    Mrs. McAllister's Chemistry Class ... There is no green.

    Jillie jumping off the ... And the absolute darkness of knowing a friend had found life too hopeless to go on...

    Astros baseball ... I put down my Dr. Pepper for one second, and missed their first-ever triple play? Oh Lester! Kiss me!

    Alley Theater ... Wizards and nutcrackers and silent movies, oh my!

    Where's Charlie ... Be gone my good man, and don't bother me any longer! Hooray for Gossips!

    Prep Bowl ... Some you win, some you lose, and some they consultate on. And we will always hate St. John's, right?

    Galleria ... Mrs. Evers ice skates?!

    And did I mention Canasta? I'm meeeeeelting!

For some of us, dreams faded. Others chased rainbows we'd have thought impossible in 1973. We became engineers, accountants, singers, writers, teachers, surgeons, lawyers, computer technicians, translators, dancers, UPS truck drivers, and scientists. None of us became President of the United States, a famous Hollywood actor, or a MLB baseball player.

Some of us died way too young, others gave up on life when they hit a tough patch. Some married, others didn't, some had children they didn't want, others wanted children they never had. Some lost parents way back then, others have faced that sorrow as adults.

Almost all of us have left the safe confines of suburbia and Houston-of-the-1970s and moved on to bigger ponds.

But in our leaving, we take with us sweet memories of days when friendship was simpler, when blackberries picked along Spring Branch Creek rewarded us for spending time together. When memorized lines became mantras, and harmonious nothingness everything. When each minute stitched us closer together, entwining us with the golden threads of common compassion, yes, and love.

When canasta was anything but a game.

It was, after all, our only chance to keep John from picking up the pile.

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