Clash Of The (Mahjong) Titans

Earlier this month, my mom arrived to help prepare for and then care for the new baby. A week ago my sister joined us here in Texas to meet her niece and change her first diaper.  Without their help, and the help of my dad, aunt and uncle, this week while Dave was gone on a road trip to Arizona, would have been…challenging. There aren’t words to thank them enough.

But between changing diapers and leading tummy time sessions, my sister has sat enthralled by her laptop. And while you might think she was just another victim of Facebook-obsession, or perhaps hooked to celebrity gossip websites, the truth is more simple and doesn’t even require an internet connection. My sister is addicted to playing the matching tile game Mahjong Titans.

This isn’t a new obsession by any means. For years my sister has been starting her days out with a game of Mahjong. If she wins the game, it is going to be a good day. If she wins on her second attempt, it will be an ok day. If she can’t win, look out world, this day is taking a turn for the very not good. And she takes this rather seriously. It seems like a mental illness, I admit, but it really isn’t any stranger than reading your horoscope, I suppose.

This week she passed the time, which there is a lot of with a newborn baby actually, just not a lot of it spent sleeping, by playing her beloved game. Eventually she got through all the layout choices and came to Dragon layout. And she didn’t win. Nor did she win on the second try. Nor the third and so on and so forth. And next thing you know it is 5 days later and the Dragon layout is yet to be won.

You might think this would just be a minor annoyance. A blip on the radar screen of life. For my sister this was a bane to her existence. Consuming her thoughts. Changing her mood. After coming particularly close to winning one game, she turned to me in all seriousness and said ‘I don’t think you realize how devastating this is for me.’ Oh I realize it, not that I understand it. Later, while lying in bed next to me on her night shift as baby nurse, she uttered to me or maybe just to the darkness, ‘Mahjong will be the end of me.’ I’m sleep deprived and couldn’t find any sympathy within myself, so I let the silence answer.

Last night, on her sixth day of visiting and the sixth day of the Mahjong showdown, she tackled Dragon layout for the 15th time in a row. And as she got close to winning she got more and more nervous, muttering ‘oh god, oh I’m so nervous’, I looked up and took notice. And then she won. Won the Dragon layout. And fist-pumped and let out an Arsenio-esque ‘whoot whoot’ and possibly even raised the roof. I gave her a pat on the back, baby let out a fart, no one else in the room really noticed. But her mood lifted considerably, and we were all thankful for that.

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