Winning

 

Everything’s a competition in our house.

Not in the traditional sense. Not in the “hey kids, let’s toss around the pigskin…” sort of way.

Nope. Martin and I compete in petty, idiotic tasks such as:

Who can carry the most trash to the dumpster?

Who can hit the telephone pole in the yard with a tennis ball from 40 feet?

Who drives the fastest? Who can finish a book first?

 

We can barely complete dinner without someone brandishing an empty plate and declaring, “Done!”

The worst display occurs in airports. Usually after we’ve checked our suitcase, as Martin and I stride along side-by-side…

….our walking always — always — turns into a foot race. A match race.

There’s no starting line or verbal cue. One of us will edge ahead and suddenly: we are speed walking through the airport.

Elbows flapping, shouldering carry-on bags, we streak past the ambling masses with blazing speed. Sort of like two ostriches.

On crack.

Our behavior frightens other travelers. Visibly alarmed, parents clutch their children and snatch up their rolling bags.

As if a drugged-out ostrich might mow them down.

We race the length of the terminal. Inevitably, I take an early lead but Martin always catches up and pulls away, which prompts me to scream, “You’re not walking, you’re running! You cheated! Cheater!!”

At least we reach the gate in a timely fashion.

***

We see competition anywhere. About a month ago the two of us were in CVS, awaiting a prescription, when Martin sat down at the automatic blood pressure monitor and thrust his arm in the cuff. He pressed “start” while I peered over his shoulder.

The results flashed 128 over 83.

Wordlessly, I sat down and offered up my arm.

131 over 88.

Stunned, I stared at the numbers then glanced at Martin. His eyes widened.

“Oh my God….you assumed you’d beat me, didn’t you?” A grin spread across his face. “You always say you have low blood pressure. But I won. This is killing you, isn’t it?”

I was seething. Actually, I could feel my blood pressure rising.

Two weeks later, alone at CVS, I beelined for the blood pressure machine. I offered an arm and willed myself to “think calm.”

My new reading: 122 over 66.

I couldn’t wait to crow about my victory. Over dinner that night I gleefully announced my results. I’d won.

“You didn’t win,” Martin said. “You can’t do that! You can’t just go by yourself and re-test! I wasn’t there, you didn’t beat me!”

“Yes I can. 122 over 66, I win!”

“No way, I am not giving that to you.”

Cayden looked ashen over the brewing argument. He held up his hand. “Mom! Dad, don’t you always say, ‘not everything’s a competition.’? Don’t you tell us that?”

“You stay out of this,” I told him. “If you kids are done eating, you can head upstairs… First one in the bath wins.”