"Susan and Dan started playing cards in restaurants after a trip to Europe. They said it's common in Europe to see people playing games while waiting for their meals. What do they play? Well, that all depends on the restaurant and the speed of the service. If they don't expect to wait too long, Crazy Eights, otherwise it's Gin Rummy.
"They're a competitive couple, who've been married "forever" Susan said, so they always play for the check, even though it all comes out of the same pot. "It makes for a more interesting game." Susan's been on a losing streak for three weeks now, but she's confident that her luck is bound to change soon--so she's planning on heading to pricier restaurants.
"When their kids were little, the whole family would play cards, and sometimes their kids were embarrassed by their parents' behavior, especially if they had invited a friend to dinner. One time they took a board game into the restaurant, but in order to win the game, you had to yell out the answer. Their family made quite a scene, but the waitstaff loved them, and said they were welcome back anytime.
"I appreciate it when people go outside of their comfort zones and do unusual things. It makes the world much more interesting--and it makes for a great column, too.
"If you'd like to play cards while waiting for your next restaurant meal, even though you might just be playing 'Go Fish' you will look very literary to the other people in the restaurant because these cards (she was giving away) contain quotes from Shakespeare."
(Love that lady's comments she sends with the daily chapters of the books she finds and presents...)
On my travels as a child, I have no memory of where, but in a homey kind of place, kid friendly, each table had a different board game or novelty . One was a stick with a ring attached. Long time patrons could easily put the ring on the peg, but I never got the knack. Nobody local would dream of walking out with the toy/cards/board game.
Another place in MO that was in a truck stop (horse show days, we went clear to the environs of St. Louis, and into KC, MO at times) had one table with Chinese checker holes drilled in the round "spool" tables. They were abandoned cable holders that had a thickish plywood top, then covered with some surface product to prevent splinters. The one with the chinese checker board was painted. The owner's son had done it before he moved away (not until he was an adult. ) The owner said every once in a while they had to spring for a new bag of marbles, when too many had walked off or been lost under things accidentally. "They roll, don'tcha know," she added with a crooked smile. Her restaurant also served top food. I'd learned on the road to choose the restaurant favored by the truckers... (Back before restaurant franchises were wide spread...) Other times, restaurant place mats had games on one side, and an 8 oz. glass of eraserless pencil stubs for kids.