Note: This post is almost entirely unrelated to Christmas.  But it does mention snow, and in the northern hemisphere, the two are frequently related.  Yes?

The East Coast was snowed in this weekend, so instead of spending Sunday eating pomegranates, avocados, and grapes with my parents, little sisters, and two younger brothers, I was home in Virginia, listening to church talks and playing hearts with my roommates.

Have you played hearts before?  It’s this card game (yes, played with face cards), in which your goal is to get as few points as possible, which means avoiding having the highest card in a trick that also includes hearts.  Every heart (and the queen of spades) is worth points; you do not want to collect them.  Unless you want to collect ALL of them—in which case you have “shot the moon,” and you get the choice to subtract 26 points from your total point tally or give 26 points to every other person playing.  The game ends when someone’s point tally reaches 100.  They lose; the person with the fewest points wins.

My roommate Stephanie is obsessed with hearts.  “I’ve never been addicted to anything,” she said today.  “I’ve never even tried anything really addictive.  But I can imagine that the rush I feel when I’m shooting the moon is like the rush someone else feels when they’re shooting up.  It’s sensational.”

My roommates like hearts so much, they have at times been unable to decide whether to play hearts or sing karaoke.  Unwilling to give up one for the other, they’ve done both.  “Karaoke hearts!” they yell, and they pass the microphone around as someone deals another round.

Karaoke Hearts.  Manfriend suggested it should be the title of a novel I write about these roommates.  I think it’s perfect.

Did you know that it was hearts that brought Manfriend and me together?  We met in the fall of 2007, when we were in law schools on our respective coasts.  We were members of the same LDS law student national board, and we attended a conference in Utah.  In the subsequent two years, we ran into each other here and there.  If memory serves, we even played scrabulous on facebook in early 2008.  “I hope you kicked my trash,” I told him recently.  “No,” he said.  “I’m pretty sure you killed me.”

But I hadn’t really seen him with frequency until he moved to DC this last summer, and we started seeing each other at parties.  Including, it should be noted, in July at my roommate Jeanette’s 30th birthday party, for which she originally purchased the karaoke machine.  “Karaoke birthday!” we yelled.  I sang “Don’t Stop Believing” (the Glee version), and Manfriend chatted in the kitchen with his date.

In September, a good (male) friend of mine came with me home to New York.  He spent the weekend with my family.  He was so good to me—so kind and generous, so complimentary and attentive—that I was sort of giddy after the weekend.  “You are the most delightful person I have ever met,” he said to me, as we drove back to DC on Sunday evening.  “I spent all weekend with you, and I never saw you do a not-delightful thing.”  He dizzied me with his compliments.

So Monday morning rolled around, and I was at work not wanting to work.  Just wanting to think about my weekend with my so-generous male friend.  Just wanting to think about something that wasn’t work.  And I saw Manfriend’s name on my gchat list, and I vaguely recalled my roommates reporting that during the weekend I was away, Stephanie and her boyfriend and Manfriend had all been part of the final four in the annual DC-area LDS singles hearts tournament.  I decided not to work but to chat Manfriend and say, “Hey, I heard you rocked some hearts this weekend.”

We started chatting.  He asked where I’d been when I wasn’t at the hearts tournament.  I told him I had been in NY having a rocktastic weekend.  He asked why.  And I spent the next ten minutes (gchat tells me) explaining to Manfriend (then, future Manfriend) the nature of the kindness my male friend had showed me.  “It’s more like he was paying attention,” I said.  “Generously paying attention.  He liked the things about me that I like.  He gave me credit for the things that make me awesome and didn’t take away points for the things I’m working on.”

Manfriend said (among other astute things), “I love that.”  And then he said/gchatted, “Do you want to go out Thursday night?”

Hearts.  I love that game.