Average Jane

Rummikub – It’s like Maj, but way less exciting

It was my last night of freedom before life changes for the summer. Before the walls of my apartment, the ones that keep me safe and happy and protected from the world, become prison walls, locking me into a personal hell. (More on this to come.)

With 24 hour to go, I decide I must have my “peeps” over for one last hurrah. One last night of debauchery while I can. So what did I decide to do?

F-ing Rummikub, that’s what!

So I called up my “peep” (down from “peeps” because the other “peep” was working), broke out an open bottle of month old white wine, and started in on a marathon game of Rummikub (pronounced rum-ih-cue, like barbecue, but with less meat and more… um… rum?) that solidified my opinion that no other game in the world could be so dull and so addictive at the same time.

Rummikub is a game that everyone on both sides of my family plays, has played, for as long as I can remember. My mom taught me when I was very young, and is a masterful player herself. By masterful I mean mediocre, of course, but better than me. My dad would sometimes join us, spend some quality family time with me, mom and brother (who, shockingly enough, can play when medicated and without too much distraction). That is until one day out of the blue, in an attempt to scar me for life I’m quite sure, told me that

a) He hated Rummikub, and

b) He had always hated Rummikub.

I always thought it was a Jewish game, like Mah Jong (which is actually Chinese, of course, but whenever we can bring the Jews and the Asians together, there can be nothing better. See: Christmas Eve and Kosher Chinese Restauarants). Apparently it is not.  More generally European, I believe. Bummer. I like to think that we Jews can take credit for one of the most boring “games” out there. “Game” implying “fun” which really, it isn’t. It’s tedious and frusterating and long and without action. And fa-bu-lous!

The goal is simple: Get rid of your tiles.  But the means to the end? Oh the means… The endless picking and placing of tiles is where it begins, but slowly devolves into the rearranging of tiles that clearly will not ever be returned to their proper location until finally, begrudgingly, you realize that you can’t make your move, and are left with a mess of out of places tiles. My mother is infamous for this, always having to “eat the tile” that she can’t put back in place. See, evil Jews. Eating tiles and whatnot.

I played Rummikub with my Ivy League friends one summer, marathon tournaments, hours on end, game after game. I lost every game. Actually, I typically lose every game because unlike my mom who is “masterful”, I “suck”. Anyway, they never ate tiles because they had every move mapped out in their mind. Like chess. Think ahead. What tiles are left? What move can I make? And in my head, I am thinking… No! Don’t do that! Gosh-darn-it-all-to-bloody-hell-in-a-hand-basket!  Oh, the thrill of the sport. The pain of defeat. Always better to lose to a superior player than to beat a far less talented opponent.

Why do I share this with you, my friends? Well, I think I want to turn Rummikub into what Knitting was in 2000: hip, cool, now. I want to start Rummikub night. I want everyone to experience my joy!

Or maybe it’s 8am, I’ve been up for 2 hours, and I have no interest in getting ready for work. Because after work I know that I will have to come home and face my fate: my parents will be living with me for the summer.

Commence pity…. now.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. * PRSlaveDC says:

    Dude, I can’t even begin to count how many summer nights at Rehoboth my family sat around playing “the ‘Kub”… And while I never realized it before, you’re right, it is TOTALLY a jewish thing.

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 10 months ago
  2. * Laundro says:

    Mahjong had a comeback when I was in my late teenage years. I learned it with a girl friend (not a “girlfriend”) at a camp we both worked at one night.

    It’s funny how these games get cool in cycles.

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 10 months ago
  3. * carrie m says:

    my mom has been playing maj since I was in jr. high. We’re not Jews, but I tease my mother that she’s trying to get into the club.

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 10 months ago
  4. * Becca says:

    I was really 100% sure that Rummikub was Israeli. Next thing they’ll tell me that someone else had felafel first too.

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 10 months ago
  5. * mm says:

    Don’t go public with Rummikub! It’s going to lose its street cred.

    Pretty soon there will be underground Rummikub games played for blood money. But seriously, if anyone ever wants to play…

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 10 months ago

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