I can’t quite remember when this insatiable desire to win formed in me or when it became directly connected to games. Whatever the case, I was a fiend, desperate to win every single game, doing a victory dance when I did and throwing an over-the-top fit complete with flinging myself to the ground in tears when I didn’t.
The times when I didn’t win were few and far between, yet they are seared into my brain. I hated playing Clue[do] with the entire family only to have one of the adults solve the case before I did. HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE MS. PEACOCK IN THE KITCHEN WITH THE KNIFE! I was ONE weapon away from solving that, bitch!
I didn’t say things like that, of course, but I totally thought it and losing got to the point where I decided to do the unthinkable: cheat.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I was a cheater. Full-blown, 10-year-old, shameful, cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater.
Clearly I was destined to become an adulterer later in life, cheat on my SATs and end up as a bum on the streets. I was heading down the wrong path and IT. FELT. GOOD.
I mean, of course I’d always been taught that cheating was “bad.” But I was never really taught WHY. I didn’t learn until later that it’s because it’s unethical and unfair to other people. All I knew was that this cheating thing was AMAZING because I won. Every! Single! Time! So, really, how bad could it be?
I could sneak a peek at people’s cards and win Go Fish. I could accidentally-on-purpose toss a Yahtzee die on the floor and say “It landed on a six!” when I needed the fifth six to complete my Yahtzee. I could casually change my words on Scattegories when someone else had the same word as I did.
I could taste the sweet, sweet victories and I yearned for those more than I yearned for Hershey Kisses or Barbies or the desire not to be a total jerk to my family.
So I started to up the ante. I became less bold in my willingness to take chances. I started making rules about which games we could and couldn’t play. I was only interested in playing games I KNEW I could win. Games where I had a chance of losing (like video games) I only wanted to play alone.
My winning streak skyrocketed. And for a while, so did my fun.
But then I stopped bidding on anything in Monopoly and instead, hoarded my money. And I couldn’t play Mall Madness because my win was left to chance (an electronic credit card swiper decided the fate of your purchases, which was NOT something I was willing to gamble on, even though the game was really awesome, because it was a game about shopping, y’all). And Life? Forget about it. I was not going to end up with three sets of twins who I’d later have to put through college! Ugh.
This maniacal behavior, of course, made it so that nobody wanted to play with me.
On top of that, games weren’t really fun anymore. What’s the fun in cheating during a game of Uno when I’m playing Uno alone?! Then I win AND lose and that’s no fun, either.
The madness had to stop.
I started playing regular games again, though my crack-like addiction to winning made not cheating difficult. It made playing a game I wasn’t sure I’d win scary (but what if I looooose?! Then I’ll be destined for failure! I’d rather be destined for a life of sin and dishonesty!).
Eventually, I learned to let go of winning and to take losing in my stride.
But I’ll be honest: winning is still my favorite. Now I pretend to be really bad at games (“Oh, I don’t know… I’m so bad at this…”) and then relish in the glorious feeling of winning when everyone else thought they would.
So, yes, I let go of my compulsion and learned to have fun. (Since winning and being “perfect” at games isn’t everything.) But it’s clear that I’m still pretty evil and no amount of cleansing will rid me of that.
Photo is Candy Land by Trojanguy