Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Winning is always best

My friends saw the real me around 1:15 a.m. on New Year’s Day. No, I do not mean the vulnerable side. Or the self-deprecating side. Or even the obsessive-compulsive side (Goodness, I am starting to sound like Sybil). I am talking about the competitive side.

After attending the John Anderson concert in Greenville on New Year’s Eve (oh, yes, we were just a Swingin’), my friends and I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning playing spades.
It was boys verses girls, and although I had never played before, I must say I am GOOD!

Now, I have to confess that if I am not good at something, I simply refuse to do it. For example, I tried bowling before, and along with wearing rented shoes (barbaric) I was utterly miserable – and terrible at it. I have never bowled again.

Not the case in spades. It was all about trumping the other players, so I put on my poker face (enough that my friends kept asking if I was sure I was having a good time) and Keetha and I whipped some tail – winning 500 points to 320 points.

I just like to win. Period. And I am not afraid to admit the source of my condition – genetics. As usual, I blame my family.

I am the baby sister, the baby grandchild, and the baby cousin. Just as survival of the fittest, I learned to compete in every situation and usually with some kind of handicap. Swimming races in the pool with my cousins. Roller skating races down the driveway (my sister, Deana, ended up in traction after one of those). Racing on horseback through the pasture (I had a Shetland pony with 12-inch legs; I would never win that one).

Everything growing up was a competition, and because I was the youngest, I never won. Now that age or a pony with short legs no longer applies, I now have a shot a winning, and that is my ultimate goal. Trial Pursuit, Celebrity Taboo, Connect Four, Hungry Hungry Hippos – there must always be a victor – why shouldn’t it be me?

To this day, my sisters and I still compete at everything. Once, Stephanie and I took my nephew to Chuck E. Cheese for an afternoon, and the two of us ended up in an air hockey tournament. First, the table was designed for children, so we were playing on our knees.
Second, we made such a spectacle that we attracted an audience. The game eventually ended in a draw because we ran out of tokens.

Then there was the infamous game night experience. Someone had gotten the new Survivor board game based on that stranded-on-a-desert-island game show, and I was all set to make alliances, win challenges, and be the sole survivor. My loving family voted me off the island first! It is still the source of anxiety for me, and I am still holding a grudge.

We have even corrupted my nine-year-old nephew, Hunter. In the summer, we spend a lot of time at the pool, and I always become Hunter’s playmate. Last year, I created a new game, pool jousting, where each competitor straddles a float and tries to unseat the other with one of those foam noodles. Of course, I always won, and Hunter got mad and wouldn’t play with me anymore.

I am trying to toughen him up. If I had to go through it, so does he.

I realize I take it a bit too far sometimes, but I still try to be respectful – win or lose. I have never done a victory dance, and I do not taunt the opposing team (does “How ‘bout them Dawgs” ring a bell?) Winning to me is all about personal satisfaction and redemption for all those years of losing to my sisters and cousins.

Now that I know I have a knack for spades, I am all about a re-match. Of course, if we lose this time, I will have to consider giving it up for life. I am not too proud to take my ball and go home.

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