Magic Mom Lady — Warning: Trading Card Jargon Ahead

Age is defined in many ways: you could count the years you’ve lived, you could count the cigarette butts in your ashtray at the end of the day, you could start running as fast as you think you can and see how long it takes you to get where you want to be or how far you can go before you need to stop. Or, if you play Magic, the Gathering, maybe you could drop the Rheumy Crone of Xanx Hollow card:

Rheumy Crone of Xanx Hollow
Artifact Creature
1/1 with joint pain for 2 greens and 1 colorless; tap and kvetch to make target player get you a cup of hot tea and an afghan. On your upkeep put a 1/1 Mangy Cat token onto the battlefield.

If you’re willing to play that card, you’re older than the guy who invented the game, and that’s all you need to know.

Here’s how old I am. I am old enough to wish for a large-print version of this detailed and complex game. I can’t tell you how many times my kids have to say mom, that’s 5 colorless mana, not 3. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tapped 4 to play my Elvish Piper and put out my Fog instead – that Fog that I was holding to surprise my opponent when he tried to kill my Elvish Piper before I could use her awesome ability.

As if it weren’t sufficient insult that I can’t read the cards well enough to make a poker-face worthwhile, I find out that I’m as stuck-inside-the-box as my parents were back when I was seeing the world through the wide-open eyes of my younger days. For example, when I was just starting out, back in the days of Sorry and Monopoly and Backgammon and black-and-white I Dream of Genie episodes, if you were to destroy target creature so that it can’t be regenerated like you do with Polymorph, you would be inflicting that tribulation upon your enemies. I mean look at the words: destroy, target, and can’t be regenerated. What’s not hostile and offensive about that? Yeah, baby, take that! I destroyed your Wall of Bone and you can’t do anything about it . . . except the second part of Polymorph’s ability, printed, by the way, in type only one size bigger than the warning label on an aspirin bottle: Its controller reveals cards from the top of his or her library until he or she reveals a creature card. The player puts that card onto the battlefield, then shuffles all other cards revealed this way into his or her library. You kill that creature and send it away for eternity, and its controller gets to put another creature onto the battlefield. For free, for crying out loud! Like Ghengis Khan taking his foe by the neck and giving the guy a nice, gentle massage so he’s loosened up for the battle: I wouldn’t want you to cramp up while we’re trying to kill each other, says the blood-drenched terror.

What a stupid, stupid card. Who’s going to pay 4 mana for that? And it’s rare, like anyone wants it enough to make it worth anything . . . And  . . .  AND . . . and I think I pulled muscle when I figured out that the target creature you want to be destroying is your own little 1/1 saproling token or, better yet, that creature you bewitched away from your opponent with Slave of Bolas or that creature that is about to die under the crushing blow of a Kalonian Behemoth. Yeah, put that on your stack and watch me pull some kind of bear or centaur or, if the fates are with me, my freaking Godsire! (Not that I’ve actually ever seen a Godsire, but you get my point.)

With all that on the stack, though, part of the reason I like playing is magic is that even though I’m a 49-year-old mother of three sons, I guess, I’m also an 11-year-old tomboy, at heart. And Magic appeals to that incessantly younger part of me in ways that nothing else does. However, once in a while, the very game that Time-Sieves me back to my purest self is also the game that smacks me in the face with a tattered shawl and a flurry of bi-focals.

At the beginning of my end step, though, I’ll figure out how to exploit the shawl and the bifocals and all the other reminders of my age just like I finally figured out how to exploit Polymorph. I just hope that’s before my kids take away my driver’s license.

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