I was 10 or so, another few weeks in summer on The Cape, in a cabin. Mom, Aunt Nancy and Nana there.  Much beach frivolity, but none better than cribbage night.  And I mean none better.

Mom, Nancy and Nana would sit around a formica clad kitchen table and the board would come out and the cards would be dealt.  But not before the shuffle, which was my favorite part.  Mom had the “Bridge” shuffle, a sort of high arc where the cards would cascade down into a pack. It’s complicated and my preferred methodology of the shuffle; split the deck, half in one hand half in the other.   Feather the cards into one another and arc up your hands to make the bridge and they all shuffle down together.  Very deft.  It was like art; unexplainable why you liked it, but beautiful at the same time, cards just dancing.  

Nancy had the “Nudge”, cut, cut and cut, then a semi chop bridge shuffle.  She’d peel up the corners of the cards, feather them, interspersing them and then nudge them all back together and rinse and repeat.  

Nana had the “chop” shuffle like you’ve never seen.  Half the cards in one hand, half in the other and she would chop them together, repeatedly, like she was cutting carrots.  It was so inelegant, but so effective.  Chop, chop, chop.  A deck would succumb and be mixed.

They say it takes 7 shuffles to mix up 52 cards right.  Statistically speaking, Casino wise.  Nana could do it in three chops.  

Hours would go by as the three played for blood and rights.  It was no holds bared.  Deathmatch.  After all, it was cribbage.  Shuffles ensued, one blaming the other for a bad score based upon bad shuffles.  That’s what Cape Cod gamblers do.  As I remember the stakes were high: Who’s cooking breakfast in the morning.  Cigarettes are flying around, wine here and there.  Tense at best.  But it’s the Cape.  It’s hot and damp.  Humid.  If I had one memory of being 10 with my Mom, my Grandmother and my Aunt on the cape, it would be this one and I wouldn’t give it away for anything.

If you ever had one Cape Cod beach moment, this would be the one.

There’s nothing like the shuffle.  

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