Thursday, September 09, 2004

Rotten Egg Races

They say that the truly great athletes are motivated more by a deep hatred of losing than by the accolades that go with winning. Most everyone is motivated to some extent by the fame and good feelings we attach to winning, but those who work the hardest to be winners often simply dread losing more than their competition. My hypothesis is that this dread goes back to very early childhood, when losing not only meant not winning, but also carried with it the permanent stigma of, not just receiving, but actually being the rotten egg.

The rotten egg races have come to the Hatcher's household. Sunday morning, after finishing his breakfast, and while standing in prime position at the door to the deck, Billy announces a slight twist on the rotten egg race. He starts to say the last one to the trampoline is a rotten egg, but stops himself when he sees Joey is in a position inferior to Jake's. Not wanting his twin to be the rotten egg, he changes in mid-sentence and says “second one to the trampoline is a rotten egg,” and takes off running. Joey sits still, and Jake runs a close second to Billy and wins rotten egg status outright.

The boys love to race, especially Jake, who challenges me each morning to loops around the basement at breakneck speed. Usually one of the twins will join us and run circles around both of us, cutting dangerously sharp turns in barefeet on the carpet, while I let Jake beat me. As Joey passes him, Jake invariably claims that he is the fastest, against all evidence to the contrary.

Occasionally we get a good race going in an open field, and Billy and Joey even went head to head on the track one day. It would be slightly inaccurate to say that Bill is a faster starter than Joey, and more close to the truth to simply say he is a serial false starter, especially when he acts as the official starter. “Ready, set” and two to three steps into his full gait “go”, and Joe plays catch-up from the start.

Billy will have to be a distance runner, as the rule that requires sprinters to stay in their respective lanes takes away his main strategy, which consists of trying to cut Joe off as Joe closes the gap. Watching this is very comical, and makes me think that they should allow sprinters to do this in the Olympics, adding a little strategy to the mix and giving us as much excitement as short track skating provides (which is the coolest Olympic sport ever).

When the twins were Jake’s age, wrestling was their sport of choice. I would no sooner come in the back door of our Minneapolis home after work, when Billy would stammer out his request: “wanna wrathle?” Sure, I’ll wrathle, and up the three of us would go to the master bedroom. An ottoman served as the equivalent to the turnbuckle for Superfly Billy Snuka and Joey the Animal Steel. Not content to wrestle a mere dad, Billy would insist: “you be lion.” I would respond by saying that I am a bear, or any animal other than the lion, and no wrestling could proceed until Bill set me straight, insisting upon lion status.

Bill would run straight at me in a bull rush, from 20 feet away and outside the room, laying his body and head on the line to take out the lion. Joe was the champion of the foreign object; out of nowhere he would wield a toilet paper holder or some blunt object to heighten his advantage over me.

We still wrestle these days. I am fond of getting Bill in a position that he cannot possibly get out of, and telling him to say “uncle.” He knew what this meant immediately from the context the first time I said it, and always vehemently refuses to say it. When I have Joe in a similar position, he cannot say uncle fast enough. For Bill, after a few defiant refusals to say uncle, I will change my tone completely and ask him who the father of one of his cousins is, and he’ll respond Uncle … I immediately claim victory and let him up, saying I can’t believe you gave up and said uncle. Works everytime!


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