Winning is Everything

I’m not going to say that we’re too competitive. Just that Martin and I agree on one thing:

There’s NO room for losers in this family, dammit!

The two of us compete over who can fit more dishes into the dishwasher, who can be the first to name a random actor on TV, who drives home the fastest, who throws the dog’s ball furthest, and who can throw the ball and hit the telephone pole in the yard…at night, in the dark…..after a few drinks…while being heckled.

And if we’re walking, we’re competing to see who can walk the fastest without breaking into a run (Martin usually wins though I sometimes disagree with his definition of walking). Here’s what happens: we’re strolling, more or less side-by-side. And then I realize that he’s picking up his pace…sonofabitch, he’s trying to pass me!

So I walk faster, he walks faster, we both walk faster, until we look like those dorks who compete in speed walking — minus the short shorts. Now we’re neck in neck, sometimes blows are exchanged, an arm is used to detain an opponent. But eventually one finally stops and officially concedes the race by screaming “you suck, you big cheater!” This also guarantees that anyone in ear shot will look at you like you’re demented.

Our last face-off was at Dulles airport, daily parking garage #1, 5 am. We were both handicapped — me by a packed luggage cart, him by the kids doubled up in the stroller. As we’re speed walking, we narrowly slide past unsuspecting and ridiculously slow-walking travelers, who jump out of the way and clutch one other like we’re going to snatch their samsonite.

But there’s no time to apologize. Cause I see the final stretch: the covered breezeway that leads to the terminal. Once we’re in there, passing will be impossible. I’m in the lead. Victory is mine! Cackling madly, I glance over my shoulder at Martin, who’s huffing behind with the stroller that’s lolling under the weight of two kids and a carry-on.

Just as I’m about to shout, “smell my butt, loser!” catastrophe strikes.

Had I been looking ahead instead of taunting my opponent, I would have seen the crater in the pavement. Even so, I’m not sure I could have changed course at such a high speed. The front wheels bottom out and the cart jack-knifes, sending luggage in every direction. The kids narrowly escape a similar fate (ejection would have been certain, we never strap them in), but Martin deftly navigates around the carnage — suitcases littering the parking lot and the upended cart, its wheels still spinning. He leaps into the lead. Bastard!

So what does this have to do with hay? Last time we brought hay home, our friend Skip loaded 58 bales, nice and tight, in the back of Big Rig. No tie-downs needed.

This weekend, Martin was determined to beat that record.

Unfortunately Skip was not around when we arrived to pilfer his hay. This meant that we had to rely on our own amateur stacking style — increasing the chance that we’d be shedding hay the whole way home.

We loaded up the truck which appeared to be at max capacity at 52 bales. That’s it, I said. But Martin said, “Oh no, I’ve come too far to turn back. I’m too close. Just 6 bales to tie, 7 to win.”

Martin: “Oh yea, no sweat. We’ll get this home, no problem.
The Dog: “Dude, your pants stink.”

At final count I thought we tied the record at 58 bales. And after a Driving Miss Daisy-paced commute, we unloaded our haul in the loft. Martin did a recount and announced that we were looking at 60 bales. Definitely 60.

Okay Rain Man.

Of course, Skip, this means the ball’s in your court. You can challenge the recount, or reclaim the hay stacking title with 61. Otherwise, relinquish your crown of baling twine.

Martin returns victorious with his 58 … oh, sorry, 60 bales