Playing Mahjong

Photo by  Shu xin  on  Unsplash

Photo by Shu xin on Unsplash

I went to a Mahjong party last night.

Several weeks ago, my friend explained that he always wanted to learn to play mahjong and decided to host a party to introduce it to our respective friends. That party was last night.

We were late (we’re always late for parties), and showed up when the rest of the guests had already gathered around the table as the host read the instructions.

The Hostess invited us in and offered us a selection of drinks.

  • Is there any beer?
  • No.
  • Okay.
  • Well, there is. But, it’s old.
  • That’s okay.
  • I would offer it to you, but it’s in the back and probably isn’t any good.
  • I can have the wine.
  • I’m happy to get it for you, but it’s old, bad beer.
  • Well, since your talking it up so much...


It quickly becomes apparent that no one has ever played it before or knows how to play and that our host who has watched a handful of YouTube videos is now the resident expert.


Someone mentions that they are feeling uncomfortably hot since they are menopausal and proceeds to use a paper plate as a fan. Several of the other ladies just nod.


A friend mentioned that she was trying to make chocolate chip coconut madeleines for the party in what I think she says was an Easy Bake oven. But, it failed she said and it was more of a chocolate coconut crumble. My only thought was, of course, since an Easy Bake oven uses a light bulb as a heating unit so how can anyone cook with that? But, they still taste good.


The first Mahjong game ends with the following exchange:

  • Player: Okay, can I do this?
  • Host: Yes, you can. You just won the game.
  • Player: I did?
  • Host: Yes, now say “Mah-Jong!”
  • Player: Mah-Jong!


We all remark that as a group that our average age is 50 yrs old and the idea of being at a party at 9:30 at night on Saturday just feels really weird. I find myself sinking deeper into couch and wondering why I didn’t take a nap before I came.


One of the other guests mentions that April was a really busy month.

  • Me: Lots of work?
  • Guest: Yeah, but we also moved that month, my parents house burned down, and I was a editor of my child’s school yearbook.
  • Me: Wait. You’re parents house burned down?
  • Guest: Well, their cabin by the lake. But the entire thing burned down in 20min.
  • Me: Oh.


I’m talked into playing the 2nd game of Mahjong as part of a team. My partner waves her dinner plate at me. I’m not wearing my glasses which means that I have to squint at the various tiles. I take this as an acceptable handicap.

Within a few minutes, I realize I’m playing the tile version of gin-rummy. I relax a little. However, I soon realize that though its “sorta” like gin-rummy, I still have no idea how to play.


The game begins to drag as the table spends lots of time checking the printed rule sheet. I get bored and decide to annoy the host’s daughter who is playing next to me by knocking her tiles down. She looks aghast and I feel like I’m seven years old.


One of the players shouts “Mah-jong!” Which then leads to several minutes of discussion if she could actually do that. We realize that no one playing the game actually knows how to end it. “It could go either way,” someone says. I look at the time. It’s 11:30pm. K has been watching the game from a bar stool, yawning every few moments with a sleepy smile on her face.

“MAHJONG!” I shout "Congratulations!” And get up from the table.


Getting into the car, K looks over.

  • That was a lot of fun.
  • yeah, it was. Maybe next time we’ll actually learn how to play.