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The Ace in the Hole

March 7, 2011

A Common Family Battleground.

I come from a very competitive family.  The kind of family that when playing Monopoly tackles each other across the board to prevent embezzlement from the bank, asks the other player to get them a drink of water during Battleship for a chance to sneak a glance at the ship at D3.

Case in point:  My father, at the start of a Boggle game, quickly writes down about twenty nonsense words just to psych his competition into believing that he is smarter than them.  My dad’s wife won’t even play with him more because of this kind of stunt.  And he always wins anyways, even without these tactics.  Clearly, the need to win, no matter what the cost, is in the family blood.

When my little brother Billy was five or six years old, his favorite activity was the card game  primly known as ‘BS.’ He delighted in playing it over and over again.  It was perfect for a social five year old precisely because it took little skill besides reading one’s opponent.  And when he triumphantly yelled “BS!” at the top of his lungs, it was like Christmas come early for him.

Now, my little five year old brother often won this game, despite his youth and inexperience.  But one time, there we were, my father, my father’s wife, my brother James, Billy and me, and it was going badly for poor little Billy.  He has triumphantly yelled “BS!” too many times when my brother or I had been telling the truth, and he now held at least half the deck in his hands.   James was rubbing it in too, telling Billy it was payback time.  It looked as if Lisa, my dad’s wife, would be the victor.  Billy held his cards in his small hands in clumsy clumps.  It was almost his turn again, and then, with the suddenness that small children often indulge in, said, “I have to go to the bathroom!  Wait for me!”  He sped off to the other room, his cards clutched to his chest protectively as he ran, so we couldn’t see them.  It amused us that he didn’t trust us enough not to peek if he left his cards on the table.

When he came back, we asked if he washed his hands (duh!  I’m not four anymore, daddy!) and played his next set.  “Four jacks!” he claimed.  “Say BS, say BS, I’m lying!” he lied gleefully.  Lisa merely smiled and put down her next card.  The game sped on, two more rounds were played, Lisa had only one card in her hand, and it came to Billy’s turn again.

The Battleground in this Sordid Tale.

“Three eights! I win, I win!”  He showed us his hands, empty of cards.  We stared at him, incredulous.

“BS, Billy,” James said slowly.  He turned them over.  The cards were, in fact, three eights.

“I win,” Billy said again, looking a little shifty.

“But you had, like, the entire deck in your hand.”  I looked under the table.  No cards.  I squinted at my little brother.  “How did you win?”

“Um, I’m really good?  Really good.  No!  Don’t go there!” Billy yelled, as James went into the other room.

A moment later, we all heard a “Ha!” from James in the other room.  Then, “Come here!”

“Noooo!  Stop!  Stay here!”  Billy implored, giggling.  He knew the jig was up.

“Cheater!  Cheater!  Look what this little cheater did!”  James’ voice cracked with the indignation; it sounded like he didn’t know whether to be impressed or mad.  We all ran into the piano room and then into the bathroom.   We looked down at the toilet.  And started to laugh.

When Billy realized that he was losing, he had decided that drastic measures were needed.  He went to the bathroom and used the time to count ahead to which cards he would be asked to play in the next three rounds.  (He was five years old, making these calculations!)  He then stuffed the cards he wouldn’t be able to play safely under the back of the toilet.  To complete the illusion he flushed the toilet, washed his hands meticulously (he wasn’t lying about that at least!), and came out to put down his jacks.

We all looked at him.  He continued to giggle.

Like I said, being competitive is in our blood.  It isn’t our fault we were born this way.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. MrRoivas permalink
    March 7, 2011 10:52 PM

    Ah yes, good times. Was Billy really that young? Gosh, that competitive streak really does run deep in the blood.

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