By Alyssa Velazquez
Elm Staff Writer
In blackjack, 21 is the prime number. Your goal is to reach 21, and having more than a 21 total in your hand usually results in the loss of 21 dollars or more. To finagle a 21 digit out of a deck of 52 cards, a person decides throughout the game to fold, stay, or hit.
This makes me wonder. In a society where divorce lawyers and couples therapists are receiving bigger checks than specialized doctors, have we become too fold-happy in relationships? Are we no longer willing to play the game of relationships, or better yet, are we more likely to fold our present hand than engage with the cards of our current significant other? In a relationship, are there designated cards that result in automatic folding and a particular pair that, due to their potential positive outcome, warrant a stay? Is there a relationship 21?
This weekend, I made plans to go with one of my best friends from back home to a concert of our favorite band, Pink Martini, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Started by two students from Harvard, Pink Martini is very much like a local consignment shop. It exists, no one in the town really knows about it, yet if given the time its merchandise proves to be one of the best buys you will ever make.
After a lovely dinner at the Continental in Caesar’s Palace, drinks, and a candle light fare, we had just enough time to make the mandatory band t-shirt purchase and take our seats to discuss in detail our desired band playlist for the night.
As the house lights began to flicker, singular conversations began to end, leaving the scattered LED pink martini glasses from the bar to talk amongst themselves. Two hours, a drunken audience member escort and a performance made only complete by a dance in the aisle later, there we were two girls in heels on the Atlantic City boardwalk in search of gelato in November.
Maybe it was my extra three-inch heels that night, or maybe it was the high winds. Whatever it was, it seemed to have brought with it the most dysfunctional relationships to the casinos that night. To quote a very sarcastic friend, “the bedazzled toilet of America” known as Atlantic City was truly living up to its name, leaving little left to be imagined.
There we were, minding our own business on an innocent quest for the crème-de-la- crème of ice cream, when we started to walk alongside a couple in a feud. Both male and female was threatening to cut, kill, and leave the other. During their heated stroll, the origins of their fight were never revealed, only that it was the other parties’ fault. Regardless of rightful blame, neither was willing to fold his or her hand in the relationship.
Navigating my heels away from the cracks between particular planks on the boardwalk their conversation made me think: What legitimately constitutes a relationship fold and a relationship stay? Or do we as societies merely need to develop a harder skin against certain aspects of our significant others? Even though the couple I ran into that night was laying its cards on the table and each had played their hand, none had folded.
However, their relationship from an outsider’s perspective definitely had faults that–if I were a betting type of gal–would have made me fold.
Later that night, replaying the events in my head, I stopped the tape at the couple on the boards. The more I looked at their interaction the more I was brought back to my first breakup.
Reviewing my reasoning for that breakup I can now personally say that, I folded too soon. I believe it was because I was afraid. While fear of being alone can push a relationship, fear of its failure tends to make us both paranoid and negligent. Having been four years now since my first “folded” breakup I still have not been able to transcribe a personal manuscript with acceptable relationship breakups or relationship stays.
In relationships, a perfect 21 is not always going to be in our hands during a particular game, and we will never be dealt our ideal pair of cards no matter how many times we shuffle the deck.
Ultimately we have to ask ourselves if the game is worth it. In all my rounds of relationships I have been the one to fold, laying down cards that I believed to never hold the promise of a 21. Looking at my relationship discard pile now I see that although there were those cards that rightfully warranted disposal, there were hidden aces that I had carelessly thrown away amongst the jokers and number twos.