Seems this Parcheesi tournament thing has really become quite the event in our family. We now play more often throughout the year in an effort to get some practice in (or decode our opponents’ strategies), and if we’re not playing, the conversation will still often stray to various related topics. Those topics will usually revolve around general gameplay, ways to improve upon and expand the tournament party, who we should invite for the next year, and reminiscing about past “I-came-THIS-close!” games. One of the themes of these Parcheesi conversations has always been the names of those who have managed to get their names up on the Golden Caldero — most notably, the fact that all the names were Latino, and none of them were women.
Now, I can guarantee you there’s absolutely no exclusion of other nationalities or of women. Our family is Puerto Rican and represents the majority of players, but the remaining players who have married or befriended someone in our family have been mostly Scottish, Irish, Canadian or a Russian/English/German/Native American mutt, and the skill levels have pretty much run the gamut on both sides of the ethnic fence. The genders are also pretty much a 50/50 split, and women have always been a part the final game. Despite these facts, we couldn’t help but wonder, “When will the first gringo or first woman get their name up onto the Golden Caldero?”
This innocent observation would usually lead to an episode of trash talking and taunting back and forth, as my non-Latin relatives swore they would get their chance, and my sisters, mother and I insisted that next year was OUR year. There was also the small conundrum of whether my or my sisters’ not-so-hispanic married names would count as gringo names on the Golden Caldero, nevermind the craziness that would ensue simply because we were women. Certain patriarchs of the family also went as far as to VOW that there would NEVER be a gringo or woman’s name on that caldero for as long as he could help it! (All boastful pride and good-humored ribbing of course!)
This fourth year, after three rounds of preliminary games and much food, spirits, teasing and, of course, Larry coming so close to a win (he does this so often, we now call this particular type of choking larrying), the final Parcheesi game promised to change things forever. The finalists included (left-to-right) my sister, Lisa; my brother-in-law squared, Bryan; Bryan’s wife, Joyce; and my brother-in-law (and also Joyce’s brother), Jim. If the winner was my sister, the Puerto Rican streak would technically still remain, but regardless of who won, a gringo name would be going up on the Golden Caldero.
In the last turns of the game, Bryan had one piece left to go all the way around the board, and Jim had the same plus another piece about halfway around. However, Lisa and Joyce were in a dead tie for first, each with one piece left and each needing only to roll a 3 to win everything. Eventually Joyce was the one who rolled that 3 and took the title. And just like THAT, the Golden Caldero would bear a name that was both gringo AND a woman’s… all in one shot.
Congratulations, Joyce! Your pioneering Parcheesi win has blown the door wide open for gringos and women everywhere, and you’ll never be forgotten! Just don’t think for one second that anyone, whether Puerto Rican or non-Latin, or man or woman, is going to go easy on you in next year’s tournament just because you’re a girl. And seeing as she has known you since you were little, I’m pretty sure Mamita is damn proud of you too. 😉