Sometimes winning, you lose

Rick Ryckeley's picture

Winning and losing. Sometimes there’s a very fine line between the two. It may not be as newsworthy as the presidential election, who’ll win the next American Idol, or even the plunging stock market, but around our house it’s the biggest thing to happen all year. I won an argument with The Wife, an argument about history, no less.

We were discussing the premise that throughout the annals of history, there have been many people who have accomplished great things. But few have done so without overcoming obstacles put forth by their nemeses. In fact, I said that the enemies in their lives made them great.

The Wife came up with several examples to illustrate my point: Socrates vs. Athens, Gandhi vs. the British Empire, and John F. Kennedy vs. Castro. But, that history lesson will have to wait till later; yours truly came up with a few examples of my own.

Superman would not be so super — flying around the world trying to save everyone — if his nemesis Lex Luthor wasn’t trying to destroy things all the time.

Batman would just be another little rich boy with nothing to do if it weren’t for the Joker. Who would the caped crusader rescue if the Joker didn’t kidnap his girl friends while wreaking havoc on Gotham City at least once a month?

The Wife said I was being silly, and her examples of heroes vs. nemesises were much better than mine. I respectively disagreed and continued.

I asked her what about the carrot-munching Bugs Bunny? Just how famous would he really have been if it weren’t for the gun-toting Elmer Fudd always on his tail? Not to mention Snoopy and his legendary dog fights with the Red Baron.

Why, without the Baron, Snoopy would be just another beagle sitting on top of his doghouse starring at his empty food bowl.

At this point in the conversation, The Wife sighed, rolled her eyes and had nothing to say. It looked like I was winning the argument, so I cited one more example.

What about me? Yours truly had none other than Bradley McAllister — a.k.a. Down the Street Bully Brad — to contend with whilst growing up. While I don’t profess to have been a great person in history — well, at least not until my novel’s printed — my nemesis certainly was as bad as all the above.

Back in Old Mrs. Crabtree’s third-grade class, it was Bully Brad who encouraged me to eat a bug. He said doing so would impress the girls. I did, and it didn’t.

During the summers I spent much of my time running for my life from Bradley, who seemed to be lurking around every corner, just waiting to beat me up again.

Walking home from the last day of fifth grade, Bully Brad ambushed me down by the old magnolia tree right in front of Candi’s house. Candi was the girl I ate the bug for back in the third grade.

If it weren’t for Bubba Hanks’ bone crunching tackle, Bradley would still be sitting on my chest pounding me in the face. For many a summer after that day, I ran away from Bully Brad. I’d jump over trashcans, bushes, and even Cripple Creek trying to escape my nemesis. When I reached the hallowed halls of Briarwood High School, things were no different.

Bradley chased me all through the eighth grade and into the ninth. When Coach Reeves saw him chasing me at recess, he sent Bully Brad to the office and asked me to come out for the junior varsity track team. Four years later, I graduated from Briarwood after lettering in track for four straight years on the varsity team.

What event did Coach Reaves see I had a talent for as I ran away from Bully Brad? Well, thanks to years of running away and jumping over everything in a desperate attempt not to get pounded, seems I had developed a knack for the high jump.

After that first track meet in ninth grade, Coach Reeves moved me to varsity, and in eleventh grade I got second in the region. The region track medal still hangs on my wall in the office.

I told the Wife that, like Superman, Batman, Bugs Bunny, and Snoopy, without my nemesis, I would never have had the years of training that helped me letter in track for four years and get second in the region.

The Wife then conceded I had indeed proven my point. I thought I had finally won an argument, until I asked her what was for dinner, and she replied, “You can fill your own bowl, Snoopy.”

Sometimes when you win an argument, you actually lose.

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