Sunday, August 9, 2015

What’s in a Name?

It’s possible to make money playing cards. Some people even get rich doing it. But for the vast majority of people, playing cards means killing time.

If you’re playing cards, you’re not cutting the grass, fixing that leak in the sink, or painting that room.

You’re not doing something that will create lasting value or lead to accomplishments like writing the great American novel or simply figuring out where the garden should go to produce the most beans.

Still card games can be fun.

Winning almost any card game you play depends on getting what we call the “Trump card.” What can we say about the “Trump card” except that it is the epitome of short term success? As achievements go, getting a Trump card is among the shallowest accomplishments—entailing little more than dumb luck. It is the American-Dream-lite—all you ever wanted for the shortest time possible.

By short term, I’m not even talking about the often sought after and seldom realized fifteen minutes of fame. Fifteen minutes is an eternity compared to the length of satisfaction gained from acquiring a Trump card, which might last only a few moments before another Trump card comes along…and another…and another.

Trump cards are like coins in a penny roll—worth little more than a dime a dozen and practically useless. They’re like jokes in a vaudeville act—“I got a million of them.”

Try remembering the last Trump card you had or anticipating what the next one will be. You’ll know it when you see it and will forget it as soon as it’s out of sight.


Ah, but for that fleeting moment, that brief snippet of a second when you slap that game clincher down on the table and then look up to see the faces of your opponents, that Trump card becomes not only a winner but a measure of its holder’s self-worth. It calls out to that small world of people sitting around that table, “This is huge, look at me, read 'em and weep.” In short, the player holding the Trump card is declaring for all to hear, but let’s be honest, mostly for his own ego, the awesomeness of being him.”

Trump cards can come in any shape or size. Well, that’s not true. But any card can be a Trump card. A Joker can be a Trump card. A wild card can be a Trump card. A Joker posing as a wild card can be a Trump card. For Trump cards, the general rule is there is no rule. Anything goes.

The Trump card is no more than a simple solution to a minor challenge. Nevertheless, in that most idle moment of participating in that most self-indulgent activity, this challenge—whether it be drawing an ace or picking up a lowly deuce—is the only thing that matters. In that moment, the Trump card is as good as gold. 

Yes, it’s as good as gold but gold isn’t everything as most wise men will tell you. Smart people don’t gold plate their golf clubs because they know that all the gold in the world don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing. Neither do smart people gamble away their homes or risk their futures anticipating a Trump card.

There are more decks of cards than guns in America and while every card in each of those decks can be a Trump card, most of the time, most of those cards are losers.

Whether in a deck of fifty-two or a hand of seventeen, a Trump card is nothing more than a means to an end—a fleeting moment of excitement and short lived entertainment—nothing more than a good way to kill time until something better comes along.

So back to the point, what’s in a name?

If the name’s Trump, it’s rump.