I remember it as though it were yesterday. (I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true, in my case.) It was one of two family traditions (the other one being the last one: Thanksgiving). The family traditions for either one of these two events, was to have a potluck dinner (Christmas, in fact, was just Thanksgiving with presents).
I gave each of the girls a Wan Shan deck; Eva gave them a traditional Arab deck (consisting of four suits – Staves, Cups, Coins, and Swords – each consisting of numbers 1-10, Deputy, Viceroy, and King – of course, these are rough translations – and yes, this is the deck on which Tarot is based; however, the Arabs only use it for games, and have no trump cards – those were added later); and David Borisovitch (that is the traditional Russian formal mode of address) gave them each a Makkedan Compromise deck.
“Is a…how you say…mixup…?” he said.
“You mean, an ‘amalgam’?” I politely corrected.
“Da,” replied the White in Russian, “an amalgam…of the German and the Russian decks. The Russian way, is the same one you play poker with, only with the cards 2-5 removed. The Germans, such as the Similakrans, play with a deck of four suits: Acorns, Bells, Hearts, and Leaves; these suits are made up of 7-10, Jack, Knight, King, and Ace. So, when they came to Makkedah, to live with us and the Similakrans, we made a little compromise. We began using the German suits, adding a 6; plus also adding a Knight in between the Jack and the Queen. You know, you may just like to add the Makkedan face cards to the Wan Shan suit.”
<<Not a bad idea,>> I replied in Russian.
<<You speak Russian, tovarishch?>> he asked in Russian.
<<Yes,>> I said in Russian. <<I also speak German,>> I then said in German.
My cousin Sam, who was in the Navy, told me, “You speak both languages, Bradley?”
“I speak more languages than I can count,” I told him. “In fact, I’m both a UTC dragoman, and although I’m not in the Army, I was trained by them as a linguist.”
“Good!” replied Sam. “We’ve been looking for a man who can train a class of servicemen New Albian customs and traditions, as well as the local languages. Are you in?”
<<Yes!>> I replied in Klingon. <<I’d love to!>>
“Say that again, in English,” Sam said. So I did.
“Good! Consider yourself recruited!”
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