The Fastest Horse

Just reviewing my last post, I was reminded of the last time I was carried away by the overwhelming thrill of competition.

BUZZ! Trivia Game

Video Games for the Jeopardy Fan

It was Christmas last year, and Santa had brought the family some game for the Play Station, called BUZZ! It was a trivia game, and seemed like something that might be fun for all of us.

The kids were ecstatic! They knew of the game and were excited to receive it. But the best part for them was that this would be a game that even Mom and Dad could play. They pushed each other to get downstairs and drag up the ‘PS2’ and all its accompanying ‘stuff.’

With the skill and timing of an aircraft carrier crew, the five of them took over the living room, rearranging chairs to face the big screen, stashing knick-knacks away so stray wires wouldn’t cause them harm, fluffing pillows, adjusting lights and curtains. Dad and I just watched, wondering how many times they’d done this before. I reconsidered ever leaving them home alone again…

When they were done, we were all required to participate. Even Nana, the Jeopardy Master.

We basically paired up so that we had four teams of two. There were only four controllers. I thought that might be a problem. But it worked out fine.

We each learned how to log ourselves in, selecting avatars (a cartoon character to represent you) and an outfit to wear, inputting names, choosing our own signal buzzer sounds. I was starting to enjoy this. No shooting anyone, no crazy driving, no trying to figure out where to find a gold coin.

Round one and Buzz, our host, turned the show over to Rose to explain the rules. She did a fine job. Choose your category. Answer the questions, six in each category, times four of us. I came out on top.

It wasn’t that I was the smartest in the room. It was that I possessed the best combination of knowledge and skill. The kids are fast on the buttons – really fast. But, unfortunately, usually wrong. And Nana, who is a dynamo in anything trivial, couldn’t seem to figure out which button to push. Well, good for me. Ha Ha!

We move on to other rounds, putting answers in order, choosing this or that, answering fastest, and still I prevailed.

Until the round where all of the questions are about music. Oh, what bad luck.

When every question was who sang this, and who played that, and what’s this song called – and every example was generic, impossible-to-recognize-muzak, I didn’t stand a chance.

When we go for long rides in the van, I sing along to every song on the radio – I know all of the words. But it’s Dad who, for some reason both unnecessary and annoying, has the ability to name the artist and year of release of every single piece of music on the air. It is irritating when we’re on the road. It was infuriating in our living room!

Especially when the round allowed him to ‘steal’ his points from one of us – usually, ME! – every time he got a correct answer, while the kids and Nana just sat quietly, allowing him to rob me out to the loser’s bench, hoping not to draw any attention to themselves.

When the ‘Pie Fight’ round came along and I was back in the game, at least they had the decency to cheer Mommy on as I took Daddy out with pie after pie, until his threat was extinguished!

The final round opened with me on top, with the biggest advantage, and I ended up winning the game.

We played again and again over the Christmas break. The kids against the kids, the parents with the kids, even the parents without the kids. It was great fun.

Until the night Nana came back over. Dad was out with one of the boys, and the other four had just settled in for a ‘long’ game of BUZZ! Nana and I sat in the living room with the kids, watching, chatting.

The two older ones had commandeered the easy chairs, but the two younger ones were sitting on the floor at either end of the couch. They were starting to get into the game, but the younger two didn’t stand a chance against the older pair. I felt a little bad for them. So much of the game is reading, and neither of them are very strong or fast in that skill yet.

I started to help the one closest to me. I would just whisper which colour button to push. She started getting a few right and was feeling a lot better about herself. A few questions later, I noticed Nana helping the other one. Good. I hate to see them so disheartened.

A round passed. And another. Timed rounds started and I could see that my little player was having a tough timing hitting the right coloured button fast enough. So I began pointing to the button instead of saying it.

Nana followed suit.

Then the round where you had to put the answers in the correct order. At this point there was too much information to impart in such a short time.

“Do you want Mommy to help you, Sweety?” I whispered.

The little hand reached up to offer the controller. I quickly punched in the answer and she was quite happy.

Another round, and we were in the lead.

Pie Fight! I began answering questions, better, faster. I glanced over and noticed Nana shaking her controller violently, trying to hit the right button faster than me. Crap! She was getting the hang of it. I pied the heck out of the other kids, and then let Nana have it. I was winning!

The last round and the two older kids were beat down in a few questions. It was Nana and me. Me and Nana!! I could take her, I knew I could.

I moved in my seat so I could get a better grip on my controller and focused all my concentration on the screen. Two more questions. One more.

I DID IT!! I WON!!!! AH HA HAAAA!!!

“Take that, Nana!!” I shouted, as my little ‘helper’ yelped and cheered at winning.

I looked down at her happy face and looked around the living room, suddenly noticing three other sullen little faces looking back at me. Nana just looked annoyed.

With the controller still in my hand, I started to laugh. I felt the feelings deep deep in my gut. The hilarity of the situation was going to overwhelm me in a minute and I intended to take my mother with me.

“Look at us, Mom.” I grinned. “What’s she so happy about?” I started, pointing to my happy daughter at my feet. “What’s she cheering about? What – MY horse is faster than your horse!!?”

Nana saw what I was saying and began to giggle, too.

“What kind of mothers are we that we have to steal a game from two little kids?” I began laughing in earnest, hurrying to finish my thought before I could no longer speak.

“So that,” I continued, unable to breathe, “so that we could beat the heck out of two more kids?!?!?!”

That was it. We lost it. We laughed non-stop for almost twenty minutes, tears streaming down our faces, both of us fallen sideways on the couch.

When the funny finally began to subside a little and I could see again, I saw four faces looking back at me, unable to understand what was so funny. In their minds, I’m sure, I should have at least been supportive and consoling at their losses. Certainly not busting my ribs over their failure.

In the end, I learned that I can be a lot more competitive than I thought. I had no idea this mattered to me this much. The following Christmas Santa brought a second BUZZ! game so we could have eight controllers and everyone can play. This has eliminated the ‘assault and theft’ portion of the competition.

I learned that my Mom has a great sense of humour. It was such fun to see her laugh so hard for so long. The giggle-high lasted us both for days.

And I learned that it’s always a good thing to play with your kids. And every once in a while, you gotta let ’em know who’s boss. They know I love them. Now they know I’ll beat them anyway! Now, when they do win, they’ll know they won for real, and that Mom didn’t just lose to make them feel better.

They also now know what a ‘bad winner’ is. I’m not proud of that, but it was worth it.

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