Sunday, July 15, 2012

An infrequent victory

He always wins.

It's just how it works.

She may start out with the advantage, but eventually his strategic maneuvering will overtake her in the end.

She usually doesn't make a big deal of it; don't want to be a sore loser, you know.

You can probably picture the scene:

A family of four is gathered around an out-of-the-way table at a local public house, or pub for short. It's the early dinner hour, and aside from a few patrons at the bar the place is quiet.

The kids have reached the limit of their summer-time imaginations. The parents have had it “up to here” with the stressors of the day, including their now unimaginative kids. Everyone is hungry and tired and antsy. The last thing either of them feel like taming is dinner. Even strangers can see that this is the make or break moment.

The waiter appears bearing menus and jokes that only add heat to the tiny pressure cookers bouncing around in the booth. How long before they turn from tender to falling apart is anyone's guess. The mom, out of character, orders for everyone. And they wait. The smalls beg them to play a game of checkers, which the smallest of the smalls runs off to retrieve.

When he returns he is trailed by his sister who is collecting the debris of pieces left in his wake. He didn't bother to notice that the clasp on the box was broken.

He extracts the checker board and she dumps the handful of red, plastic disks (some of which she fished out from under the booth of a couple who, up until then, had been trying to have a quiet meal.

I call girls against the boys,” she hollers, after she shimmies out from under their table and runs for “game central.” She imagines the girls have an edge.

No such luck. The boys win.

What was lost in the game, however, is made up in timing as the food arrives as the last checker is swept from the board.

They eat. They chat. They consider how long they have until the meter runs out on this the smalls talk them into playing just one game of chess, citing an often used legal maneuver: The “you promised” clause.

This time the boy offers his game plan.

Boys against the girls.”

But the rule of chess prove daunting. After three moves, the kids become disinterested.

The girl goes to ladies room.

The boy turns his attention to his fortune cookie, the pub's official, and complimentary, dessert.

He asks for a quarter for the candy machine, dissappears and then returns, with M & M-gooey hands, to climb Mt. Concentrating Dad.

Unsurprisingly to everyone but the mother, who knows her husband to be unshakable in his stratigic skills, he blunders forward.


She takes advantage. How could she not?

And ends up winning.

For the first time. ...


She is stunned, amazed and perhaps the happiest she's been in recent memory.

Happier than the time she found a parking space in the first-swoop of the supermarket's clogged parking lot or when she found pine nuts on sale.

Small wonders like these always make her smile, and talk to strangers ...

Because who knows when this will happen again.

He's not the type to let her win.

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