There must be 50 ways to celebrate your lover

Ah, my wife.

I present to you a woman who never gives herself enough credit. She never thinks she’s smart enough, funny enough, pretty enough, good enough.

Well, today, now, here, on the 50th anniversary of her birth, I’m here to celebrate the woman that never celebrates herself. The one that always…always…puts others before herself.

So, let’s look at these one by one, shall we?

She never thinks she’s smart enough. Yet, I can’t tell you how often she’s taken charge of a situation and, going on nothing but gut instinct, made the decisions I was too stupid or too locked up with emotion to make. And each time, I didn’t just question the decision, I openly opposed it. It was wrong. Every time, I knew it was wrong.

Yeah, the only damn thing that was wrong was my opinion. Karen was right. Karen is always right.

It’s tough for me to write that, but in my heart, I know it’s true. It’s hard to admit that I’m not as smart as I think I am, and that my wife often outsmarts me. Doesn’t matter if it’s a big life decision, or something as simple as watching an episode of Criminal Minds and she always guesses the plot before I do. She does it every damn time. And I’m the writer, dammit!

She never thinks she’s funny enough. Okay, well, to be fair, I’m a sarcastic joker and I’m always on. I’m sure that gets tiring. But then, add into the mix our daughter, who inherited the sarcasm gene from both parents. And there’s Hunter, our son. He’s hilarious. In fact, our daughter actually created a Twitter feed for him, Willy’s Wise Words. And then there’s our friends Ryan and Lisa. Ryan’s gotta be one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, and his wife is hilarious too (especially when she cracks a joke, laughs at it, and says, “I’m funny!”). So, in a group like this, it’s hard to consider yourself funny.

And yet, Karen is often hilarious. She won’t let me post the video, but there’s a lovely few minutes of footage of Karen when she had dental surgery, and being stoned afterward on the drugs that’s simply gutbusting. There’s also this one, where Ryan plays on Karen’s fear of defying superstitions (specifically, opening an umbrella indoors).

How about that scream, huh? Jamie Lee Curtis had nothing on her.

But even this past week in Vegas, Karen had us in stitches by simply doing the John Belushi SNL sketch about cheeseburgers. You know the one.


Yet, when Karen does it, she does this weird thing where her face freezes up and her lips don’t move. It’s unexplainable, and a riot to watch.

So is watching her try to curl her tongue. Or when someone’s getting to her and her chin sharpens. I can’t explain it any better than that. Her chin gets…pointier.

And then there’s what happened this last night. We went out to dinner and, as I sat across from her, I reminded her this was her last meal as someone in their forties. Then I said, “Jeez, tomorrow, I’m gonna be married to an old lady.” And her immediate response was perfect.

“You won’t be if you keep that shit up.”

She never thinks she’s pretty enough. I remember, long ago, I worked in a camera store, on the camera sales side. On the opposite side of the store was photofinishing. I stood with one of my coworkers and we watched this hot woman come in and drop some film off. The coworker nudged me, and said something like, “Damn, she’s got a great ass.” Then she turned around and he said something about her being hot. I ignored him, because she walked straight across the store to me, leaned over the counter and kissed me. My coworker’s jaw damn near bounced off the counter. Yeah, that hot girl was my girlfriend. And now, just a hair under 25 years later, she’s my wife.


The amazing thing is, over those intervening years, she’s only gotten more beautiful. Maturity suits her.


She never thinks she’s good enough. This, above all the others, shocks me. Over the years, I could not have asked for a more wonderful wife. She always supported me in whatever I tried to do, believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. She always put my needs and others that actually didn’t deserve her attention ahead of her own. She would bend over backward to help anyone in need, even those that had been horrible to her. If it weren’t for my wife, I would never be the guy I am today.

And she’s the ultimate mother. Seriously, if it had been up to me to raise the kids, they would only have memories of sitting in front of a television with some sugary cereal to eat, and maybe a lot of Beatles and Pink Floyd playing in the background. Karen planned all their events, their lessons, their sports, trips, vacations…everything. I’m useless when it comes to this stuff. Seriously, I’m lucky to get myself dressed in the morning.

And overall, beyond all that, she’s been my partner through life. We’ve navigated many rough waters together, sometimes paddling in sync with each other, sometimes trying to paddle in two different directions, but always in the same boat. And our destination is clear. We’ll be there for each other, no matter what. But for me, Karen’s the one I turn to, the one I talk to, the one that is my rock.

My point here is, though she’ll never admit to it, she is smart enough, funny enough, pretty enough, good enough. She’s more than I deserve, and all that I desire.

I can’t imagine my life without this woman and, today, as she celebrates five decades of life, I’m glad that she chose to spend more than half of it with me. I hope she’ll be with me when we’re staring down 100 years.

I love you, babe. Happy birthday.


Life and death and camping in Canada

And I feel like I’m gonna die
I don’t feel so good inside
Why baby-why, why, why?
But I had a good time
You know I had a good night

RamonesDeath of Me

You’ve heard that expression, I’m sure, about the person who’s never on time? The one that goes something like, He’ll be late for his own funeral?

Yeah. That one.

I think it’s okay to talk about this next thing I did. The statute of limitations has run out on it by now. Hopefully.

When I was a teenager in Barry’s Bay, my friends and I had a bit of a summer tradition. There was a core group of us, Pat, Dennis, Bob, brothers Dale and Dean, and myself. Occasionally others would come out for a day or two. We’d find someplace to camp for a few days. Really, for some of us, it was simply an excuse to get absolutely hammered. For others, such as myself, it was to simply remember all the details and relate them back to the sobered up ones a few days later.

A two-four

A two-four

I’m not kidding here. I think the general rule of thumb was a two-four (for any Americans out there, that translates to a case of 24 beers) for each day of camping.

Anyway, on this particular camping trip, we somehow managed to pick some of the shittiest, wettest weather we could manage. Most of the time, we spent huddled in an old canvas tent that leaked moisture like dew, small glassy beads of water slowly swelling to heavy globs that could no longer cling to the roof of the tent, and fell in great, freezing splashes on exposed body parts.

If we weren’t in the tent, we were learning the futility of trying to maintain a campfire in the rain. I have a dim, fuzzy memory of one of the guys propping a canoe up on an angle, wedging the top between two trees, then huddling under it, trying to light a fire. I don’t think it worked.

canada ehAnyway, there’s a few stories that came out of this weekend. I’ll leave you with three.

In the garden of Eden

The first was the sight of seeing one of our group catastrophically drunk, popping open the doors of his pickup truck, selecting a specific song on the cassette player, then proceeding to…well, really, there are no words, however I’ll try.

Picture a tall, blond male encased in jeans and a t-shirt, both damp from the rain. On his head is a slightly battered cowboy hat. His face is brushed with a light dusting of hair under his nose and under his chin. He’s got a loose, boneless motion as he first bobs his head, then eventually jerks his body back and forth, a staggering, zombie-like creature, completely attuned to, and drunkenly grooving, for the next seventeen minutes and five seconds, to Iron Butterfly‘s In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida. The primary picture I have in my mind is him desperately clutching the tailgate of the truck as he shoots his head forward, the cowboy hat somehow resolutely holding on for dear life.

That’s a memory that will never go away. All the more fitting, as it’s sort of a drunken anthem. The song was originally titled In the Garden of Eden but the singer got drunk and slurred the words into In a gadda da vida. True story.

Four quarts will open her

The second memory is several of us playing poker in the tent. One of the brothers wasn’t able to hold his liquor all that well. He became not just drunk, but obnoxious. So when he raised his head and proudly declared he “hadda piss,” we all looked to his brother. Genetics always trump.

The older brother helped the younger out, then walked him around behind it, a safe distance away from the tent. Interested in how he was being managed, we watched through the small window.

The older one grabbed his brother by the back of his jeans. The younger, taking meticulous care, finally got his fly open, and proceeded to relieve himself. How, guys can hold a remarkable volume of urine. And he seemed to hold even more. The peeing went on and on. And on.

And on.

A couple of times, the older brother, getting wet holding his brother up, would say, “Are you almost done?”

“Yeah, yeah…”

And on he would piss.

Finally, he finished up. By this point, the younger brother, still being held by the back of his pants, was leaning forward at a startling angle. He got everything packed away, and zipped up. “Done now?” his brother asked.

“Nope!” the younger said, then opened his jaws and threw up spectacularly. This, of course, did nothing to improve relations with the older brother, who turned away and grimly held on.

Thankfully, the puking went faster than the pissing, but by now, the older brother has pretty much had it with the younger. After the final hacking and spitting, and still at that rakish angle, he said, “Done now?”

Wiping his mouth, the younger said, “Yeah.”

“Good,” the older said, then let him go.

Yes, he dropped forward, straight into his own bodily fluids.

The older left him there, came back around, got in the tent, resumed his position, and said, “Okay, whose deal is it?”

A little while later, the younger eventually gathered himself together, dragged his sodden body over to the tent, stuck his goo-encrusted face up to the screen window and said, “Open up! Lemme in!”

“You gotta go around to the front of the tent to get in,” we explained.

“Fuggoo! You hid th’ fuggin’ zipper! Yoo fuggin’ bassards!”

It went like this for a while, then his face disappeared. We heard rustling and muttering, then a snicking noise, then came the phrase that, over thirty years later, I still remember.

Apparently, he had a small pocket knife on his person. The snicking noise was him opening the blade up. Then, when he said, “Four quarts’ll open ‘er.”

Translated from Drunk, this meant, “Step off dear friends and sibling, I’m about to cut myself a new method of ingress.”

We all ran out and, in quick succession, stopped him, disarmed him, then dragged him around to the front of the tent. Yes, he got cleaned up before he was allowed back in.

Bloody tourists

However, it’s the final story of this ridiculous excuse for a vacation that I feel the most stupidity and shame for.

After a few days of toughing it out, we decided to stick a fork in it, pack it all up and head back home. By now, none of our clothes are dry, it’s been too cold to swim, so we haven’t bathed in days. We smell like damp and smoke and beer and puke and sweat and dirt. We’re tired, we’re miserable and some of us are hung over.

We just want to get home.

One of my chief complaints about Barry’s Bay after I learned to drive was the summer tourists. For ten months of the year, I could drive through the town virtually unimpeded. But come summer, the traffic would lock up at the three-way stop at the hub of the town.

It’s funny when I think about that now, after having been trapped on the 401 for hours at a time. Oh, the impatience of youth, right?

So, we were all piled into the bed of the pickup truck, and, once past that three-way stop, I was ten minutes from a shower, a hot meal, and my own bed. So, I was a little impatient. Then we came to a dead stop in the middle of town. We were at least five or six cars back from that stop sign where we needed to turn right toward my home.

And we weren’t moving.

I remember first leaning off the side of the truck, then getting out to look. I became virtually apoplectic. I remember looking into the truck and saying something like, “Some stupid bitch is letting all these cars through! Stupid goddamn tourists!”

Then, I made a decision.

“Screw this!” I said. Then I walked past those five or six cars in front of us. I walked up to that three-way stop, then I paused for a moment to observe exactly what was happening. What I saw infuriated me even further. Cars were coming up to the intersection, then simply driving through, taking up that lane that we needed for me to get home. My bleary, tired mind could find no reason for this.

Well, I wasn’t going to let this hold me up. I boldly walked right into the middle of the intersection, a dirty kid dressed in unlaced workboots, jeans, a t-shirt and a flannel lumberjacket (also known as a Kenora or Muskoka dinner jacket), hair wild and greasy, and an angry expression of hate for all things touristy.

Kenora dinner jacket

Kenora dinner jacket

I saw the next car about to pull out and into the intersection. I held my left hand up and stood in front of him. Then I turned around and, with my right hand, I pointed at the woman in the car sitting at the front of my line, then waved at her to proceed. I can still see her eyes, wide and staring at me. She did a small shake of her head, but I would not be denied.

“GO!” I roared.

She went. Then I turned and got the other guy to go. I basically directed traffic at that stop for the next minute or two until the pickup truck came into view. I waved him around the corner, then ran and dived into the bed.

A few minutes later I was home.

And then, as I came through the door, my mom said, “Oh, you’re home early. Did you run into that big funeral procession in town?”



Turns out a VIP in town had died while we were out getting soaked and drunk and singing In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida. And I came back to town just in time to make him late for his own funeral. Rush hour in the Garden of Eden.

I never ever told her what I did. But I remember there being a write up in the local paper a couple of days later about an “unknown person” that held up the procession.

Now, memory may be playing tricks on me here, because as far as I remember, it was our Member of Parliament, a man named Yakabuski, but I don’t think that’s right because the years are off. So, if anyone happens to know a bigwig that died in Barry’s Bay in the summer of 1980, let me know, huh?

And if you happen to be related to that person, I’m sorry.

God as my witness, I’d never really experienced a funeral procession before. Had no idea what headlights on in the middle of day meant.

Yes, I was a stupid kid.

But you know what? I probably wouldn’t be that upset if, at my own funeral–which I hope is not for many, many years–is held up by some ridiculous, impetuous teen. Because, I’d probably like that kid.

Shop the madness! Or, grocery shopping etiquette in 11 + 2.5 easy steps

Anyone who reads this blog knows how much I love shopping (and for those who haven’t read this blog before, “love shopping” is total, unadulterated sarcasm). If I die and go to hell, the devil will give me a shopping cart and tell me to shop ’til I drop.


Today, due to a confluence of evil forces, I was forced to shop in my local No Frills, as well as WalMart, and finally, at Costco. And I also had to shop not only for my family, but for my mother as well. Pretty damn close to that hell scenario above, right?

Anyway, likely because the stores were closed yesterday for Good Friday, today should have been renamed Evil Saturday. Everyone seemed to need to feel the smooth plastic of a shopping cart in their hands. Everyone seemed to need to line up endlessly. And here was I, caught in the middle of this retail maelstrom. In fact, at one point, when I was in an aisle that could accommodate at least four carts side-by-side, and I was locked in position for a solid five minutes, I looked over at my wife and said, “kill me now.” Several people snickered. But no one moved.

Anyway, having spent so much time in line, I hereby present Tobin’s Rules for Shopping.

parking_lotRule 0: Don’t park like a douchenozzle
Yes, I’m starting at rule 0, because you haven’t even started shopping yet, and already you’re pissing people off. I’m going to try and be as clear as I can here: A parking space is an area of pavement usually bordered by three yellow lines. You park your vehicle so that it is contained within those three lines. To do anything other than this is to park like a douchenozzle. How does a douchenozzle park, you ask?

  1. A douchenozzle will take up two spaces, either on purpose or because they lack the basic talent to navigate a vehicle. You can tell the difference, because the one that does it on purpose will likely park it at a rakish angle, where the no-talent will just be over one of the lines by a foot or two.
  2. A douchenozzle will park where there is no parking space whatsoever. Usually closer to the store than anyone else, often right in the path of other cars.
  3. A douchenozzle will foolishly believe they will only be a few minutes, so they don’t need no stinkin’ parking space. Instead, they’ll park right up at the curb beside the store, usually blocking everyone else’s access to and from the store. Often, the douchenozzle themselves will stay in the car, smoking and playing obnoxious dance music at an obnoxious volume while they wait for their significant other (usually the one with the clothes that were in fashion in the 80s, back when they were twenty, or they’re wearing clothes that are five sizes too small for them because it makes them sexy, or, as they say, “schmexy,” or they look like they just came off a welfare-cheque financed bender) runs in for the stuff.

Don’t do any of this. Douchenozzle.

Rule 1: Don’t block the entrance
When you have made your list, grabbed your coffee, somehow managed to find a parking spot, remembered your bags, dug out a quarter and snagged a shopping cart then you’re already ahead of the game. So why the hell do you feel it’s necessary to get just inside the doors, then stop? Why? Get your ass all the way in, find a quiet, or at least an out of the way spot by all that weird fruit that no one buys, then get your shit together. Dick.

Rule 2: Watch where you’re going
Yes, there’s all sorts of things to do when you’re shopping. Keep track of that shopping list. Drink your coffee. Avoid all the morons. Scan for sales. Compare prices and sizes because it’s stunning how often they rip you off with the jumbo sizes. Etc. Etc. Etc. But seriously, it’s no worse than driving a car. So why do so many people simply choose to look sideways, or at their list, instead of where the hell they’re going? If you do this shit in the grocery store, I guarantee you’re the type to text and drive and I trust you will end up on the Darwin Awards shortly. And if you do this, and don’t know what the Darwin Awards are…don’t worry. You’ll find out. Moron.

Rule 3: Don’t walk forward and look backward
If you’ve already passed something, then you should have damn well looked at it then. If you didn’t, you have two choices: Back up safely, or loop around and check it out on the second pass. You should not be staring at it, trying to decide if it’s right for you, as you continue to walk away from it. There’s people’s heels in front of you, moron. Those damn carts hurt when they nail you right on that tendon. Again, if you do this here, you likely do this when you drive and obviously the sidewalks are no longer safe to walk. Shithead.

Rule 4: Don’t block the lane
So you’ve read the first three and you’re feeling pretty satisfied because you can honestly say, “I’ve never done any of those.” Well, then how about this perennial gem: Instead of slamming into people by looking backwards or sideways, you leave your cart to go on an exploratory side expedition, because those Ballpark Hot Dog-flavoured Potato Chips are strangely intriguing you. So you leave your damn cart in the middle of nowhere while you go off to scan the product. You’re like that stupid geologist from the movie Prometheus that sends all those flying robots to map out the place, then gets lost. Because no one leaves their cart for a second. They leave it, a large, grocery laden, steel-mesh chunk of flotsam, for a few minutes while everyone else now has to navigate around it. Watch out for me, because I’ll toss that damn cart down the nearest aisle and I don’t care how much stink eye you give me. I’ve done it. Fool.

Rule 5: Paying more attention to your phone than to the task at hand
Okay, yes, they’re convenient. Yes, people can now call you/text you/FB you/Tweet you and every other thing they pack into mobile devices these days. I use mine to hold the shopping list. So, they have their uses. But it is not acceptable to stop in the middle of a crowded grocery store to update your FB status.
FBIt’s not cool to slam your carts into other shoppers’ carts because you’re texting your BFF. That’s not an LOL. Or a ROFL. That’s a GTFOOMW (Get The Fuck Out Of My Way). That’s a WWTHYD (Watch What The Hell You’re Doing). Asshat.

Rule 6: There’s always someone behind you
Which means, when you decide to take twenty minutes to decide between the President’s Choice Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies and the President’s Choice Decadent Chocolate Chunk Cookies, you’ve likely chosen to stop your stupid cart directly beside the person who is updating their FB to complain about the dude taking twenty minutes to decide between the President’s Choice Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies and the President’s Choice Decadent Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Meanwhile, there’s a logjam of people stuck behind you both. Now, most people are polite. But if you hear a low, menacing, “Jesus H. Christ on Toast!” behind you, that’s me wondering if I hit you hard enough, will you press into the mesh of your cart and have to explain to your significant other why you suddenly look like you came out of a waffle iron. So move. Cretin.

express-lane-is-THIS-manyRule 7: Learn to count prior to jamming up the 8 Items or Less line
So you’ve managed to navigate the hazardous waters of the grocery store and now you’re ready to check out. Then, after a flawless performance, you then blow it all by parking your sorry ass in the wrong line. This one’s a particular pet peeve of mine. You can read further adventures here. Here’s a crazy suggestion: Try these steps.

  1. Read the sign and ask yourself, “How many items do they allow in this aisle?” It could be 8. It could be 10. It could be 12. Hell it might even be 15. In any case, between your fingers and your toes, you have enough to count them. Do so.
  2. Don’t be a bitch and say, “Well, I’ve got three loaves of bread, but really, they’re only one product, so that counts as one.” No it doesn’t. If you’ve got three, then count three.
  3. Count up all your items.
  4. Now here’s the tricky part. If the number of items in your cart or basket exceeds (which is a fancy-schmancy word for “is more than”) that number on the sign, then you cannot go in that line.
  5. Judge yourself accordingly

Trust me, this will save you a lot of harrasment at my hands if I happen to be the dude standing behind you, counting your items loudly, then bemoaning the fact that our school system no longer sees fit to teach our youth how to count. Pus bag.

buttRule 8: Don’t butt in line
So you’re looking at those horribly long, slow moving lines and even the 8 Items or Less line is stunningly long (likely with those that can’t count past five), so you find someone with a cart that’s bulging with food items and groaning under the weight and, when the person looks the other way, you choose to just deke in front of them. After all, you’ve only got a few little items, right? They won’t mind.

Yeah, they will. There’s a reason we use the terms butt and ass interchangeably. Your time is no more important than that poor bastard you just cut in front of. You are no more important than anyone else, no matter what your mama told you back when you were four years old. Buttmunch.

Rule 9: Next in line means next in line
There’s five of you in line, but then a new cashier comes in, opens up her register, smiles and says, “I’ll serve the next person in line.” Okay, just to be clear on this, what she really means is, I’ll serve the next person in line. What she definitely doesn’t mean is, I’ll serve the person that can elbow their way here the fastest. What she doesn’t mean is, I’ll serve the asshole who thinks they’re far more important than anyone else next.

I know it sounds crazy, serving the person that’s been in line the longest. But that’s really what they mean. So don’t be that jackass that shows they don’t understand rudimentary English, ‘kay? Jackass.

Rule 10: Don’t leave your cart or your fat ass in the laneway while you pack your groceries
This fits with rule 6. Because you’ve chosen to block the laneway with your cart and your ass while you pack your groceries at a glacial pace, the person behind you can’t even get up to the cash register to pay, even though they’re trying to get out of the way of the dude behind them. And you’re all doopty doopty doo, look at me packing my chocolate chunk cookies! The corollary to this is you getting the hell out of that laneway, but then scooting around to the far side and parking your fat ass in someone else’s way while you’re all doopty doopty doo. Doo-doo head.

Rule 1 Revisited: Don’t block the exit
You’re now heading out of the store. Again, rule 6 still applies. So don’t stop just before, or just after, the exit doors to dig your sunglasses and keys out of your purse. Don’t stop to adjust your junk before you head on out. Don’t stop and choose that moment to put your change/debit card/credit card in your wallet. You’ve made it this far, just keep going, stay the hell out of other people’s way, get to your car, then you can do all that shit. Bunghole.

shopping-cartBonus Rule…Rule 11: Put the cart in the corral
You’ve likely invested a whole quarter for the use of that cart, don’t you want it back? And even if you don’t, the rest of us don’t want to have to dodge the carts scattered willy nilly through the parking lot because you were too frigging lazy to walk it the twenty or thirty feet to the corral. Really, is it that much of a chore? The cart’s empty, it’s light. And besides, this is where you can have fun, putting one foot up on the cart and scoot it up to 15 mph and ride it across the parking lot, the wind blowing wildly through your hair. Yes, you look like a five-year-old, and some other asshole will likely blog about what a shithead you are, but who cares? It’s fun.

Otherwise, you’re just leaving a big chunk of metal around to scratch someone else’s car. Dork.

Rule 0.5: Learn how to back up
You’ve done it! You’ve run the gauntlet, you’ve gotten out alive, hell, you even had a little thrill returning the cart to the corral. Now, you just have to back the vehicle out of the space and get home. So how about this? When you’re backing up, actually look where you’re going. I guarantee that old dude with the walker, or the mother with her child in the cart weren’t really planning on a visit to the Emergency Room because you plowed your back bumper into their fleshy parts. Other cars are running up and down that parking lot. People are walking. Carts are blowing by. So when you back out, ease out, look behind you, look to your left and right to ensure nothing is coming at you, then and only then, can you vacate that space and get your ass gone.

Because, honestly, you wouldn’t want someone calling you a bad name, would you?

Of course not.

Spoon feeding the Boy

Spoonman, come together with your hands
Save me, on together with your plans


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.

spoons gameIt’s usually the last spoon, grabbed at the same time by the last two players, that’s the most hotly contested. Fingers tighten. Wills are tested.

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.

bent spoonAnd the players! I’ve seen red faces, clenched, white-knuckled fists, bulging biceps, gritted teeth, steely determination.

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.Hand1

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.

Honestly. I pictured it. I kept waiting for him to pull back and have a piece of me in his mouth.Hand2

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?”