The Great Friendship Equalizer

It’s the rare get-together when men and women don’t take their separate corners. Unless I’m at a rager, I’ve found that more often than not, men gather around the TV while women convene in the kitchen. A stereotype? Yes. But still, it happens.

Last night I went to a low-key coed gathering during which the ladies and gents remained intermingled throughout. The trick? Poker.

It was the first of what I hope will be many poker nights. There were attendees of all skill levels—from casino regulars to first-timers. We played a tournament, so the night was heavy on friendly banter and, yes, some heated competition.

Poker, I’d argue, is the great equalizer. Sure there are some players who are better than others (and I’m not especially good) but everyone’s money is green, so everyone is taken seriously. And while sitting around a table, waiting for cards to come your way, you can’t help but chat with your neighbors. Playing cards might be the universal icebreaker.

It sort of reminds me of what I used to hear about cigarette breaks. You’re all outside smoking and you start talking just to pass the time. Without realizing it, you’ve suddenly learned everything about your fellow smoker. It’s in these small moments, when you’re not paying attention, that friendships are born.

I don’t smoke, though, so cigarette breaks offer me nothing. But hopefully a few more nights around the card table will work the same magic.

And, because the poker episode of Friends is one of my all-time favorites, I present to you this video of Rachel’s big victory. Not exactly illustrative of my evening, but a great clip:

Are there other pasttimes–other than poker and smoking (which I don’t condone!)–that forge friendships when you’re not paying attention?

Happy Friday everyone!

8 Comments

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8 responses to “The Great Friendship Equalizer

  1. i submit that all games fill the bill here. before poker became the rage, it was scrabble, crosswords, bridge…..games. ours is a game playing family….boys and girls together.

  2. Kate

    This isn’t exactly in the same vein but…the dog park. We have to walk our dogs so they don’t drive us crazy. And while everyone is standing around watching the furry ones act silly, chatting is sure to take place. Patterns emerge and soon you see the same people. Every day. You always have something to talk about at first – the dogs – but gradually move on to more personal topics.

    My husband takes our dog to the nearby park a few times a day. We’ve only lived in Houston for a few months, but now he has a complete circle of dog park buddies, from young couples, to Montrose queens, to River Oaks housewives. Granted, he’s a master friend-maker. But I do think the dog park setting helps.

  3. Megan

    Well, I don’t play Poker – I actually really, really don’t like it, in fact (probably because I’m not so good at it!) But, I think playing cards in general is a “come-together” for genders. Hiking might be another one – at least, it has been for me. And going to the dog park. :-). Maybe bowling?

  4. Yep, games are one of the best ways to get to know people for sure. My pals and I play a lot of cribbage and Apples to Apples (which is a great game for getting to know people because your personality shines through in the hilarious choice of cards you put down in a given round).

    Also bar trivia nights are quite bonding for new friendships of both sexes. Always a fun time to gather your heads together and see who the smarty-pants people are.

    Now I want to have a game night! It has been too long…

  5. Marie

    This is an interesting topic. When I think about my different circles of friends (current and past) I notice a trend as to if the group separates into men and women. If the group was formed by a mixed men & women group with their spouses then there typically isn’t a separation at get togethers. For example if the group is my husband’s friends and their wives then there is a good chance that men and women will retreat to different corners. Whereas my group of grad school friends (men & women) with spouses doesn’t separate.

  6. Last night I did something I NEVER do! I knew that there was a gardening lecture happening in my neighborhood so I picked up the phone and called my new neighbor to see if she wanted to go with me. I was prepared for her to say no, or not answer the phone, or laugh in my face, but she didn’t! WE WENT TOGETHER! It’s a first step towards a new friend in a new neighborhood, and your blog was my inspiration. So, THANK YOU!

    • That is so GREAT! You are so welcome, I’m thrilled that worked out. I’m sure this will be the beginning of a wonderful friendship.

      Your comment made my day, so thank YOU, Annie.

  7. My dear friend and I play in a euchre league at a bar…not only is it a fabulous opportunity to meet others but it’s a great once weekly standing date for the two of us. I’ll admit…we have yet to make new female friends in the league…but we do get out and socialize every Tuesday!

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