Sitting in a hostel in Buzios, a small town on the coast of Brazil, wearing a mosquito repelling jungle shirt, I sat talking to two Israeli guys and two Argentinian girls. I say talking to, I can't speak Spanish, so half of the conversation is missed unless important enough to have translated. I generally became fidgety from the heat, and started playing with cards.
I have never been able to stack cards. It hadn't ever been an issue until I realised this fact. Since then I have felt like a disabled child when sat around other people stacking cards. I first realised I couldn't do it in college. We were sat around a table, obviously bored with any game we had started playing and started stacking cards. I was able to stack two next to each other but any more knocked them over. My friends were able to build towering fortresses, two cards high. One person wowed everyone with a monstrous 3 card high tower. I was in silent envy.
Over the years, the envy manifested, and I no longer talk to this person. I think it's because of the cards.
Anyway, without even thinking of number 80 on my list, I stacked two cards. "That was incredibly easy", I thought to myself. So impressed with my feat, I took a photo.
It didn't just stop there. I stacked two next to it. I wasn't overly confident in my abilities so I immediately stacked one on top before they fell. I have never been so pleased.
Then something flicked in my mind. My list! Number 80! I have to build one with 4 on the bottom. I didn't want to let myself get too excited with the thought though. The only reason I added this to my list is because when I am old, and all items are completed, I didn't want to be lost in a world of nothing more to do. There would always be this one thing that was always just out of reach.
Keeping the thought only in the back of my mind I continued stacking, learning new techniques along the way. Four along the bottom happened pretty quickly, the three on top were painless, though my hand shook as I placed the two above. My stacking was enjoyed by one of the Israeli guys (who I suspect looked on with envy, and who probably won't be speaking to me anymore...).
I was so close. Suddenly everybody became an enemy. It would only take one bang of the table, or a hapless blow, and my dreams would be crushed. Keeping one eye firmly fixed on the surrounding travellers, and one on the tower (I had to position myself so that they were the other side of the tower, or I would have quickly got a headache...) I stacked the last card!!
I was very pleased with myself. But why stop there? I was a card stacking machine. Nobody could stop me. I had already considered buying tickets to Japan to help rebuild the tsunami damaged buildings with packs of London playing cards (bought from Birmingham Airport...). I kept stacking, and stacking...
I never dreamed I would beat the 4 base with a 5 base! I was getting irresponsible now, I felt I should take the cards down, in risk of card damage to the table and surrounding areas if anything should make it fall. I looked down and saw a small pile of remaining cards. I started thinking about how the world would be if Newton decided to stop after just two laws. Every action would no longer have an equal and opposite reaction. Nasty people would be able to walk around punching nice people, and they wouldn't have to be worried about someone punching them back. Thankfully, Newton didn't quit, and neither can I. I kept stacking...
Success. I had not only completed item 80, but I had completed the fictional 80.5, build a card tower using every card in the pack! I almost never want to get married and have children, to avoid the awkwardness of when people ask "what is the happiest moment of your life", and I have to pretend I just didn't think they meant including those 'obvious ones'.
Annoyingly, there are only 52 cards in a pack, and not 57, but this wasn't the time to nit-pick and moan about the lack of a 5th, much smaller card suit (though, if it were to exist it should be a vest - life would be awesome if you can win a poker hand with the Ace of Vest).