“You know what? I’ve never been beaten at Monopoly,” my boyfriend told me.
That was years ago, of course. My boyfriend’s now my husband and soon after he bragged about his Monopoly winning streak, I ended it. (He’s still whining about it, but tough. Cream rises to the top, you know. It’s a law of nature.)
Anyway, so we’re both a little cutthroat when it comes to competition. Even when being competitive was socially unacceptable (the I’m OK, You’re OK Seventies, which I, personally, always thought was a crock), we were still keeping score. We were just quiet about it.
All of which is why we were determined to thrash the young woman and young man we played Trivial Pursuit with the other night. My husband and I got a blue wedge (geography!). A pink wedge (entertainment!). A green one (science!). Yellow (history!). Hee, hee, hee, hee. We were stomping them. We exchanged triumphant glances across the table.
Then we got stuck on orange (sports! — a stupid topic). We rolled the die over and over and got creamed again and again. Who cares which city lost two NFL franchises in a single year? I mean, big deal. Ask me something important, for a change.
The young man and young woman, in the meantime, were catching their stride. We exchanged taunts with them as they added wedge after wedge. “You take too long!” “Don’t you know that?” “Wake me when you finally figure out the answer.” You know, good-natured ribbing.
The game went on. The young man and young woman got lucky. They added a third wedge, then a fourth. It was midnight and we were tied and tired. A few more insults about cheating and moronic lack of knowledge were batted about. Then we all agreed to quit.
A tie with two people who were far younger. How mortifying. How demoralizing.
Except. “You know what?” I said to my husband as we went to bed. “If we have to tie with anyone, I’d rather be tied with our kids.”
“Did you notice how smart they are?” he asked. “They’re incredible.”
Cream rises to the top. It’s a law of nature. So is secretly rooting for your own adult children. Win, lose or draw — you get to give yourself a lot of credit. They’re just like us, we told ourselves before we went to sleep, almost as happy as we would have been if we’d won ourselves.
(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennnebaker)