Sunday, December 09, 2007

Playing the Game

It's been a while since I've used a Sunday Scribblings prompt, but I couldn't pass up this week's word. You'll understand why when you read my scribblings below.

Prompt #88: Competition

Competition. It's a word that inspires me. I get sweaty with excitement when I hear it. My heart pounds at the thought of it and my skin tingles with anticipation. Ask anyone who knows me even a little bit, and you'll learn that I'm a competition whore.

Have you ever seen the episode of Friends where the group is in Barbados (aptly named "The One in Barbados, Part 2") and Monica and Mike play ping pong? If so, you get the idea. If not, let's just say things get a little "hairy" and the competition gets a bit out of control. I'm not nearly as aggressive in competition as Monica is, but I REALLY don't like to lose.

Even in situations where I'm supposed to be playing "just for fun" I'm really competing with you. (Yes, girls, even at game night. I hope it wasn't obvious, because I did try to let it go a bit.) No matter how hard I try to keep my competitive urges under wraps, they usually show through. "Just for fun" is something I can't seem to grasp. I take every opportunity to win very seriously. We must play by the rules, and if we're not officially keeping score--with paper and pen--trust me, I've got the numbers in my head. I may not be writing it down, but I'm tallying in my head.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a name caller or a back biter. I do, however, find competition, in almost every shape and form, exhilarating. Tell me I can't do something, that I won't win or that you're going to do it better, and I bring out the big guns. In most cases, I'd like to believe that my competitive qualities make me more productive and help me to push past my mental limits.

There have been moments, however, that my competitive nature has done me wrong. For instance, My Love and I used to shoot pool on occasion when we first started dating. All would go well for a while. We'd laugh and joke and have fun. But then, as I lost game after game and ran out of excuses as to why I was shooting so poorly, I got grumpy and stopped having fun. He quickly learned that if he wanted to keep me in a good mood, he'd stop playing pool (or any other game) with me. This makes me sad, because I remember those dates as fun, even if we did have to leave and go get pizza before I got too pissy. Now we go to the movies. There's no competition over popcorn or Mike and Ike's.

I wonder sometimes what made me this way. Was it something I learned at home? Or at school? For as long as I can remember I've loved to win. But why? Who told me it was better to win? When did I decide that I was worth something only if I could get the best hand? The A? The Valedictorian Award? The better paying job? Yes, competition has helped me reach my goals. But were my goals mine to begin with, or did they become mine because they once belonged to someone I was competing with?

However I became this way, however I grew into the competitor that I am, know this: I want to have fun. I really, really do. But I want to win, too. So if you find yourself in a situation where I might be competing with you, make me relax. Take away the score board. Make jokes. Refuse to play by the rules. I may not like it at first, but eventually I'll let the competition go. I'll enjoy myself and have some fun. The only thing I ask is please, puh-lease, don't let me win. That's a mortal sin in this competitor's book.

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