Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella
At the park. The guys are playing dominoes now. Not for money, they tell me, but TO BE KING! They all claim to be #1, and there is much slapping down of the plastic dominoes in a kind of sweet bravado! I am bugging them, I know, but keep asking them: Who’s the king? Who’s the king? The guy with the table, I think! One of the men points to his ample chest to tell me he’s the winner and then drops his cig on the grass to pat Lilac. Lilac frees herself from her collar and goes over to the cig. The man stamps his cigarette out on the grass and is distracted by who’s under their table. Then he says to me, Take off your glasses! I ignore him and ask, Where’s this game played? … ALL OVER THE WORLD! they shout! ALL OVER THE WORLD! Cuba! Puerto Rico! CUBA!
These friends play every afternoon.
Away now sitting on a patch of dry grass with my dogs under a tree, I can still hear their yips and shouts and the dominoes coming down hard on the plastic table or being mixed in the middle. I’m annoyed at this drought. The grass is brown and rough and scratches my calves. Jett rolls around on his back – a good scratching for his old back.
… It’s so refreshing to see something slow and social, a kind of jazzy board game, with folks talking across a table, ribbing each other, making eye contact, listening to their music, being happy together.
Beating the city heat in their local park.