I find myself spending a lot of time these days playing Solitaire. This is strange to me, because I dislike Solitaire. Not in the way that I dislike blind patriotism, or senseless cruelty, or the time when the landlord refused to turn on the heat to save himself a few more pennies, but a dislike still. It is a quiet irritant, a passing smell in the subway, tea gone cold before the first sip.
What's worse is that I can't even get it right. I don't have a deck of cards; I spend no time thinking as I shuffle, there are no paper numbers in my hands. Just a free computer program that came with Windows, and lingers in the corner of my Programs menu. I am restless in this predictability.
It is not that I don't have anything else to do. Tasks pile up, emails and entertainments and assignments cueing for my attention. And yet I find that mouse-driven arrow veering unerringly towards Solitaire, and myself playing one game, two games, twenty. I've switched it to Vegas style scoring with the cumulative total option on, simply for the odd fascination of being able to say, "If I was stupid enough to try this at a casino, I'd have lost $240 today." Imaginary money flows through my index finger.
Sometimes I shut the program down in the middle of the game, savagely clicking the corner X in a fit of annoyance. More times than not, I have relented and gone back within half an hour. I try to hide the Solitaire window from my roommate, but I'm not fooling either of us.
I don't like playing Solitaire. It has simply become another thing that I do by default.