I never think of myself as being competitive. I am more of a collaborator, a builder, a creator. Or am I? Tell me I can’t do something and I’m sure to prove you wrong. Throw down a challenge, and I’ll to pick it up. I guess it all started when I was a little girl.
Mom and Dad were geniuses at thinking up quiet contests for kids to do. Like Dad’s “1-2-3 Quiet as a Mouse.” Whenever he said those words, the whole car got so quiet, we could hear the bugs hitting the windshield. Even from the way-back. That’s the place behind the back seat where mostly Little Kids sat, ’cause Dad said there’s no sense in paying extra money for a third seat in a car wheb kids crawl all over the place pretending they’re dogs and horses and stuff. I sat back there, too, especially if I thought Mom might make me get out and go into a store by myself of something. I hated doing that kind of job. Anyways, “1-2-3 Quiet as a Mouse” lasted for miles and miles, with nobody saying a word, even “I gotta go to the bathroom,” which got said a lot by kids trapped in the car. Something about getting in a car always made me thirsty or made me need to go to the bathroom. Mom said she had the same problem with phone booths. She never could get in one without needed to go Number 1 as soon as that foldy-door snaps shut behind her.
Mom made up a keen game once with candy, when we sat in the car waiting for Dad to come out from talking to someone or another. Dad could never just drop something off, run in and run out quick. He always got to talking and forgot all about his passel of kids and wife out waiting for him in the car. Mom gave us each a stick of candy that sorta like a candy-cane, but no hook on the end, and no icky burny peppermint flavor; sweet fruit flavors instead. She told us to suck on the candy and sharpen it into a point, like a pencil. The kid with the sharpest stick when Dad got done talking to whoever, got to be the winner. Let me tell you, that game was super-hard. I could have a point like a needle one second and, per-spik, the tip broke off in my mouth and I had to start all over again. Mom’s game didn’t have a keen name like “1-2-3 Quiet as a Mouse,” like Dad’s game. Still, it was sure a good game, ’cause I started hoping Dad would stay in there all night talking away like nobody’s business.
Once my cousin Don told me and Bonita and Deanna it was impossible to hold two empty coke bottles straight out to our sides at shoulder level for more than a minute. We sure showed him. His eyes bugged right out of his head: first Deanna, then Bonita, then me. My shoulder sockets felt like they were frozen in solid pain by the time a minute was up, but I held on just one second more, and one second more. I held my arms out the longest, ’cause I wanted to prove I could go even longer than Deanna. She was always doing stuff better than me. Dad said it was on account of her being a whole month and a year older than me. Still, I liked proving I was a least as good as she was, ’cause she was the best.
Teacher said the only thing you should put in your ear is a washcloth and your elbow, and nobody can put their own elbow in her ear. I showed her. I had a sore neck for a week, but I twisted around till I touched my elbow to my ear. My friend Eddie said my tooth wasn’t loose enough to come out in a day, and I was sure he was wrong. I let Dad pull it out with a pair of pliers, just to prove Eddie wrong. Dad almost puked at the table, ’cause he was sure I would chicken out. It never hurt a bit, ’cause that old tooth was ready to come out anyways. Plus, Sha-bam, Ka-Pow, I was right as rain.
Mr. M, my first high school math teacher looked me straight in the eye on my first day and announced to the whole class, “Some of you don’t belong in here.” I showed him. I got all A’s in his AP class. I even got extra credit questions right about old-timer math people, on account of how much I liked to read about stuff and could remember just about everything I read like I could see it on the page. My friend Judy, who was the smartest kid in my whole class asked me how I remembered all that stuff. I just knew, was all I could tell her.
My memory and my sense of competition is not as sharp as it used to be. Still, I’ve taken on a few challenges. The latest one is (National Blog Post Month) BlogHer‘s NaBloPoMo challenge to write a blog post every day of June. Between Once a Little Girl, and The Black Tortoise, I intend to write a post everyday. I’ll be doing some traveling and I’ll be polishing up my novel, submitting some of my smaller pieces for publication, and a bunch of other things unrelated to writing, like working in the garden and taking long bike rides. Plus, I’ll be reading as many other blogger’s posts as I can. So stay tuned, and cheer me on, please.