Spoonman, come together with your hands
Save me, on together with your plans
Soundgarden – Spoonman
It’s been two months since I’ve really had to think of something to blog. Got a little worried for a bit. Well, until we went over to the Hickey’s for a typical Saturday evening. Should have known there’d be some material there.
As I usually do whenever trying to recreate an evening with the Hickeys, I’m going to preface this with the warning that no amount of words can adequately or accurately capture exactly what happens in those few short hours. But I’m going to give it a shot.
Now, the interesting thing is, this time, it seemed to be primarily my own family that provided most of the fodder for this blog.
Not sure if you’ve ever played the game Spoons, so a bit of a description is in order. Imagine ten people sitting at a large antique dinner table (though any table will do). Laid out on the table are nine spoons…one less than the number of players. Each player is dealt four cards. Cards are then shifted down the line of players as quickly as possible, with the aim of being the first to get four of a kind. Whoever gets the four of a kind then snatches a spoon, setting off a mad scramble for the remaining spoons. Just like in musical chairs, there’s always going to be one person that gets left out because there isn’t enough spoons to go around.
Each time you miss a spoon, you gain a letter. When you’ve collected five letters–S-P-O-O-N–then you’re out. So getting those spoons is serious business.
Well, I’m sure in other households it’s serious business. With the Elliotts and the Hickeys, it can be life or death.
Seriously. In the past, I’ve seen people dragged across tables, one hand furiously clutching the contested spoon. I’ve seen players dive under the table. I’ve seen spoons bent and twisted into wet spaghetti shapes.
You’d never know this was a game.
Anyway, let’s go back to this particular evening. We’d brought our niece over as she’d come to visit for the weekend. Now, you may argue that it was unfair to bring her into that hellish arena, but then I’d just say you don’t know The Niece. She can hold her mud, let me tell ya.
To be honest, and in the spirit of full transparency, I put the blame squarely on her for the unfortunate events that transpired later that evening.
It started with the first round. My daughter, the Girl happened to be seated directly across from the Niece. And they tussled over the first spoon. It wasn’t horrible, but it was a tussle.
The second round went the same way. Same two people.
By the third round, they had kicked the chairs back, and stood, pulling and straining, each refusing to back down. Until the Niece dipped her head in and the Girl yelped. The Niece bit her.
Yup. She really did. She pulled that move early and used it unabashedly. I think the fact that she busted that one out quickly speaks to her upraising, don’t you? Perhaps she wasn’t breast fed enough, or bottle fed far too early, I don’t know.
Anyway, the game progressed, with various tussles at various times. The faces, the fists, the biceps, the teeth, the determination. Yadda yadda yadda.
At one point, the spoons got snatched up. Now, you have to understand, just because you grabbed a spoon, it doesn’t mean you necessarily keep it. They are fair game to be grabbed. This is why, when you get one, you pull it tight to you and cover it with most of your body.
In this case, the Boy had snagged a spoon and sat with it proudly gripped in his fist, the bowl of the spoon pointing skyward. Then another player swooped in, grabbed the bowl-end and stole it right out of his hands.
I don’t believe the Boy was amused. And I believe it stiffened his resolve to never lose another spoon again.
Then came the time when that last spoon came down to myself…and the Boy.
I should note here, that when I say “the Boy” I’m actually referring to a sixteen-year-old teen that’s as tall as I am and quite strong for his age.
So this was no mismatched battle of wills between a man and a little boy.
The boy grabbed the spoon but was at an immediate disadvantage, having caught only the handle of the spoon. I, on the other hand, caught it right in the middle. Somehow, in the ensuing struggle, the spoon got bent around my middle finger, so both the bowl and the handle faced the same way.
And the Boy kept tugging at it. It hurt like hell.
Unfortunately for the spoon, we’re both quite competitive and neither was giving up. Each time he pulled, it grated against a nerve in my finger and sent jangling pain up my arm.
Yeah, yeah, I know. I should have just let go. But I never claimed to be that smart.
Anyway, when he made no headway with that, he decided to engage the Niece Maneuver. Oh yes, he bit me. This is where I look disapprovingly at the Niece, by the way.
But let me clear: he did not just open his mouth and clamp down on my hand. Nope, he’s nastier than that. He actually grabbed at a small bit of skin on the back of my hand, just behind my first knuckle, pulling it up so that it resembled a skin tent. I was, quite frankly, surprised that my skin could flex that much.
And. He. Would. Not. Let. Go.
I had visions of a small chunk of skin from the back of my hand finally giving up and tearing away under the onslaught of his chompers, leaving him with a tasty treat and me with a bite-sized slash of missing epidermis.
And. Still. I. Did. Not. Let. Go.
That kind of says something about me, doesn’t it. And yes, I realize, what it says isn’t that flattering.
Ultimately, I did the only thing I could do. Being the older, more responsible person, being the parent that should be setting the example and give my son the valuable life lesson than can only be found at turbulent times like these, I seized the opportunity.
Yup. I grabbed a solid wad of his hair and I frigging pulled for all I was worth.
Initially, I thought it was a mistake as that tent grew into more of a teepee, but ultimately, the Dad Gambit overcame the Boy Variant of the Niece Maneuver.
So, after all that, I got the damn spoon.
In the end, neither of us won the game.
Which likely was the overall learning of the evening.
Or maybe it was when one of the Hickeys looked at me and said, “You notice it’s only your family that was doing all the biting, right?”