August 6, 2004


Often during holidays and such, playing games is a part of our family activities. Tradition even. Beach trips are no exception. It gets some of our noses out of books and others away from the TV, providing a social medium and bringing out interesting aspects of our characters. Playing games is fun!

We all like to win of course. Who doesn't? Beats the heck out of the alternative. However I've gotten better over the years at losing. Because, despite my best efforts, I can't win all the time. And it's really much less painful to lose when one can be a good sport about it.

Ever since The Boy was a wee lad and through the years as he grew, we played games together quite often. He tells the story now and again of how, while teaching him to play the board game Risk, I often made him cry. But I didn't really make him cry. I just didn't let him win. He would have to beat me fair and square. Which he can now. Because a good way to learn how to win is by losing. And I ought to know.

My father taught me how to play chess when I was a little girl. We made a wager. When I finally beat him, he'd give me $5. Financial incentive! But it took me until I was eighteen years old to collect that $5. Holy shit. Either he was a really good chess player or I was a really lousy one. Or both. I still have the $5 bill he forked over for that win. He wrote a congratulatory message on it. I keep it tucked in my chess board. Where I do believe it will forever stay tucked. Sad thing, I'm not sure my father and I have played a game since. Time sure gets away, doesn't it?

Scrabble is another favorite. Well one of my favorites. I like to think I'm a good Scrabble player. There's only one person I can remember beating me consistently: my step-mother Wanda. She is an incredible Scrabble player. The key to the game, outside of having a decent vocabulary and being a good speller, is knowing how to play for points. Not many folks have that down. Wanda sure does. I have this ridiculous habit of saving old score sheets and keeping them in the Scrabble box. Every time we pull it out to play, I can look at those winning scores and be inspired. I don't save the score sheet when I lose however. No surprise there, hmmm? After all, it is my Scrabble board.

At the beach this year, we played dominoes quite a bit. Playing dominoes is highly underrated, in my opinion. It's not just a game for little old men. We like to play Mexican Train Dominoes. It's a rockin' game. A little luck, a little skill. And someone who has pulled miles ahead of everyone else can quickly be humbled by one bad round. There are evidently many rule sets for Mexican Train, depending on what part of the country one is from or what interpretation is applied to the written rules (which are not very clear at all!). Part of the fun of playing is analyzing the rules. Over the years, our family has standardized the rule set we use to fit how we like to play.

My mother won every single game of Mexican Train dominoes we played that week. Every single game. I was in second place every single game with the exception of one. Not that I was keeping track or anything. Yeah right. There was a score sheet tucked into their dominoes bin from last Thanksgiving. I had stashed it in there. The Boy had beaten us all by a wide margin.

Somehow, I get as much satisfaction when he wins as when I do.

No comments: