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Travis: Bridge Club bond built to last
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It’s my turn to have my ladies’ bridge club this month. There are eight of us, and we meet one evening a month at someone’s house.

"Club" is a rather loose term. We don’t have meetings or follow Robert’s Rules of Order. I think the club is more than 30 years old. The membership has varied over the years, but at least two or three of the original members are still attending. In many cases, the only time we see other members is at the bridge table, so it is always fun to see what everyone is doing.

Besides what everyone is doing, we catch up on what everyone’s children are doing. When we started playing bridge together, our children were in grammar school.

Now our grandchildren are in grammar school and middle school. And we have kept up with all the children and grandchildren vicariously.

No one is all that serious about bridge. We are lucky if we play 12 hands in about three-and-a half hours. If we are not sure of what to bid, we will wander over to the other table and ask for help. If a partner makes a terrible face, we might take back a bid.

We meet for the camaraderie, the news and the fun of doing something with no stress, just enjoyment.

When we began and our children were little, we just served coffee, sodas and snacks on the tables. We weren’t gourmets. We were mostly working moms glad to have an evening away from children and jobs.

But slowly we began to add more and more food and drink. First came homemade desserts served with the snacks on the tables. Then came a few glasses of wine with the homemade desserts and the snacks on the table.

Then came heavy hors d’oeuvres, so heavy that you didn’t want to eat dinner before you went to an evening of bridge.

About two or three years ago, we reached a new routine. We meet at 7 p.m., have a glass of wine and talk. Sometimes there are nibbles to go with the wine, sometimes not.

Then we have a sit-down meal. It can be as simple as a good soup with homemade bread or as fancy as gazpacho, grilled pork and a potato and Brussels sprouts casserole. We then play a round of four hands and have dessert. Sometimes there are nibbles on the table and sometimes not.

I like our new routine. I like having the wine before we eat. I like eating anyone else’s cooking. It is always good if I don’t cook it. But these ladies are all good cooks.

And that is my problem. By some quirk of fate, my time to host the bridge club got sandwiched between the bridge player who reads cookbooks for fun and always experiments and has delicious food and loads of it, and the bridge player who always has an elegant menu, which her chef/husband helps her cook. Much of the food she served us last time came from her garden.

I told you before I am sick of cooking, so I’m feeling the pressure. I have trimmed the bushes in front of the house and ordered my husband to make sure he weed-eats the yard before the ladies come. (He mows regularly, but he only mows the middle, and the edges can get knee high and it doesn’t bother him.)

The house is clean and the porches newly painted. I will have to remember to buy some decaffeinated coffee for the group. Deciding whether or not to have snacks is not a problem. I don’t think I have ever met a snack that I didn’t like (at least salty ones).

It’s my menu. What can I make that will taste good, be a little different and not be too difficult to prepare? It’s easier when it is cold and you can make a big casserole or use the Crockpot.

But when the weather is hot, you tend to think more of salads.

I’m sure I’ll think of something.

And to tell the truth, I think I am worrying about nothing. Everyone will like whatever they eat. They are all nice ladies.

Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at