SpeakEasy

Student of Adult Education Makes It a Career

By HELEN FADINI | Apr 04, 2018

The spring adult education brochure arrived in early February. I poured a cup of coffee and plunged into the list of options. Having dabbled in many classes throughout the years, I‘ve had my successes and failures. If they gave college credits for adult education classes, I’d have my doctorate by now.

My biggest failure was “Knitting 101.” I didn’t just fail; my instructor returned my deposit and advised I try crocheting, a class she didn’t teach. Working with soft luxurious yarns in every color and texture was nirvana. I found my element. The soothing click of long metal needles crisscrossing drove me into a knitting coma. My blood pressure reached new lows.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past “knit one, purl two,” or was it “knit two, purl one”? I was expelled within a year, never graduating from scarves.

Knitting was ballet while crocheting was square dancing. Short little fat needles with ugly fish hook heads, jerky movements pecking away like hens plucking for worms. No thanks, I thought, I’ll pass on that.

Adult education classes were once called night school. Going out in the middle of the night to take a class is now a thing in my past. Looking for day classes narrowed my search.

Aerobics was out. I lost my jump several years ago. It creeps up on you. One day you’re shooting hoops, the next you can’t lift your heels off the ground.

Keeping an open mind, I read on. There was a one-session class titled “Turning Trash to Treasure” that looked interesting. Included in the price was round-trip transportation to a nearby landfill, protective mask, rubber gloves and a gallon bottle of “Janitor in the Drum.” My husband suggested the class be held in our garage. For once he was right.

Moving along, “Auto Repairs for Beginners” caught my eye. It would pay for itself. I could do my own oil changes, rotate the tires and maybe even attempt a brake job. Eventually, I could do my neighbors’ cars and start a little business. I quickly checked that off the list. The daily manicures I’d need would cost more than I’d saved.

The only option left was “Contract Bridge.” My friends learned the game years ago. When they were playing bridge and golf, I was playing poker and tennis. It was time to learn. I mailed my deposit and was ready to master bridge in just six short weeks. That was over a year ago and I’ve since graduated from beginner to advanced beginner. Bridge is not a hobby; it’s a full-time career.

On the morning of the first class, I arrived at the Old Reformed Church 15 minutes early and followed the signs to the basement. The room was void of everything except shaky card tables surrounded by shakier chairs. Alone and afraid, I watched the room fill. Students entered smiling, laughing, greeting each other as old friends do. It was 1957 again and I was in high school waiting for an invitation to dance. People quickly walked past me, filling other tables as I stared at the door, hoping someone would magically appear and sit at my table.

The instructor stood and in a no-nonsense voice announced, “OK, everybody, listen up! You’re here to learn the game of bridge, so let’s get started. How many of you have taken this class before? Raise your hands!”  Every hand went up, except mine.

“I thought most of you looked familiar,” she laughed.

I was doomed. I shuffled the deck of cards on my table and was starting to deal a hand of solitaire when a friendly voice asked if I had room at my table.

“Sure,” I answered, “the two of us can play poker.”

She laughed and I knew I had found a kindred spirit. The rest is history. Our table soon filled with four women, perfect strangers with nothing in common other than wanting to learn the game. We formed a sisterhood that morning. Our ages ranged from mid-50s to mid-80s. Our love of the game and the friendships that evolved keep us together. Our addiction to bridge has bonded us. We share our knowledge and past experiences on everything from family to fashion and especially on when to pull trump. It’s been a rewarding experience.

Sometimes it pays to try something new.

Helen Fadini lives in Washington Township, N.J., and Beach Haven.

 

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.