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“Show Me Someone Who Doesn’t Mind Losing…

And I’ll show you a real loser.”


I tell my friend, laughing as we mix the plastic tiles on the little card table. They clink together as we swirl them across the table top, they’re all face down.


She’s noticed my competitive nature. I’ve definitely mentioned it before.


She grew up as the youngest of two older sisters. Not caring about winning was for her, keeping the peace. She was indifferent to winning a game.


I however, come from a long line of hard core players of games: Whether Dr. Mario skirmishes on the NES, family volleyball games, Memorial Day party croquet tournaments, or a game of checkers…


We don’t like to lose. And sure. I’d say a lot of people don’t like losing, but we get super competitive. No one is a poor sport. There’s none of that… But… none of us likes to lose.


And wins were EARNED. My dad and grandfather would have never dreamed of letting me, or anyone else for that matter, win on account of being a kid. If we were going to get the W, we were sure as hell going to earn it.


That’s how I grew up.


And also how my friend and I decided to start keeping score: I’m competitive and mentioned that we should be keeping score.


Who after all, plays games without keeping scores?


Though that’s not how it all started.


What happened was that out of the blue, I suggested we play a board game and we had so much fun that the next time we hung out, we played again. We continued with that game until we switched it up and started playing Rummikub.


As a kid I had watched my grandparents and their friends and neighbors play out by the pool on round blue and white mosaic tiled concrete tables under large blue umbrellas. The sun tanned retirees sat in aluminum and vinyl chairs, little tables that they’d drag over from various spots around the pool and placed in between their chairs. On the tables they’d put their plastic cups of ice water and packs of cigarettes, and there was a singular score pad. They played in the afternoon, still in their bathing suits from their late morning swims, their fishing pier and the condo’s little beach just steps away. I’d watch them play from the pool, listening to the sound of the waves and the little plastic tiles clinking. My grandfather, who taught me a whole lot about what I know about winning and losing, seldom lost.


*****



After who only knows how many games of Rummikub we had played, we decided that we should be keeping score.


It really, only made sense to.


So we did. Well she did. My friend wrote that day’s scores in her journal and she has kept a cumulative tab since.


One day I asked her if she’s ever added it all up. She looks at me incredulously and says, “Oh so we’re doing that, then?”


I laugh, “I mean, yeah… we might as well.” She shakes her head. She knows how I am. And I know how she is… winning isn’t important.


She humors me. She adds them up. I have the low score just at 100ish. She’s close to 700. I’m winning.


Months go by. The scores are added to her book. I don’t bother to ask for an update.


We at this point, decide that we’re going to play until one of us is dead. That we’re going to keep the score going till then.


In jest I tell her, “When we die, the scores go on our tombstones. No context, no nothing… just our final Rummikub scores.”


We decided that is actually pretty hysterical and something we will have to do. “Only if I’m winning,” I joke, “of course… because you know…” we’re both cracking up.


*******

She told me she doesn’t care about winning. We’ve had that conversation before. Just as we talked about how much I do. Which was why I was surprised when she offered up the score this past time.


I had no clue what we were up to. We had long filled the first page of her book with our scores and I didn’t realize that she’d been adding them up since the first and last time I had months prior, asked about it.


She looks down into her book, scrolling for a quick second before telling me that I had just broken 1,000. Unlike the last time, she’s been cumulatively adding the scores up at the end of each game session. “And are you ready to hear mine?” She’s cracking up. I laugh, “yup…” she’s over 4,000.


We’re both laughing and she tells me, “that’s ok… you’ve got time to catch up… I can still win. I’m in it for the long haul.” And then she starts laughing even harder and says, “I’m banking on the fact that since you’re older, you’re going to start mentally declining faster than I am, and I plan on taking FULL advantage of that.”


Which is both hysterical and sick and… also my kind of humor.


We spend the next few minutes laughing and joking about me not knowing where the hell I am and her fully exploiting my cognitive decline and taking the W on the tombstone.


What can I say… we adore gallows humor.


And also: well played long games.


Which is something I find really funny, coming from someone who swore just a few months ago, that they didn’t care about winning. ;)





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