When Nate and I were first getting to know each other and falling in love, we were on our best behavior. There was no belching, no inhaling of food, no swearing, no fights, and no silent treatments. And Nate was pretty courteous as well.
When we were firmly entrenched in our relationship, we started to relax a little. There might be an occasional small burp, a grab for the last chicken wing, an expletive or two flung about and a reproachful look every once in a while but nothing that wasn’t forgotten over a quick make-out session.
When we knew that we would spend the rest of our lives together and could burp the alphabet in unison and had new living room furniture on order, Nate decided our relationship could withstand anything.
So he brought out the game Risk.
I had never played Risk. As far as I knew, it was a game about world domination and guns and tanks and as far as I was concerned, it might just as well have been a box with a yardstick in it that read PLACE PENIS HERE.
But I was in love and the living room had to be reconfigured and I couldn’t move the monstrosity that housed all the electronic equipment by myself so I said okay. Besides, I figured it was worth finding out where each of stood on the competitiveness scale which, by the way, is the only scale that is allowed within a twenty mile radius of me. Just so you know.
I figured thirty minutes tops. What harm could it do?
Four hours later, I was sitting across from Mussolini incarnate and all thoughts of ambient lighting and southern exposure and conversation areas and surround sound had been sucked out of my brain and replaced with a burning desire to feed the game pieces to Nate intravaneously through his eye socket.
This may have had something to do with the way Nate would puff out his chest and pump his fists in the air with a resounding OOH-RAH! or YEAH, BABY! each and every time he successfully attacked one of my countries.
Or the way he casually offered up key strategies throughout the game, like Did I mention Asia is crucial? You can’t win without Asia but only after I spent ten turns and half my troops conquering Australia.
Or the sudden epiphanies he would have, such as Oh yeah, I forgot, you can’t do that and Oh yeah, I forgot, I don’t lose any men when that happens, or Oh yeah, I forgot, the rules say I can make up the rules as I go along.
Or the way he would carefully and deliberately flip my troops onto their side so as to appear dead before he ceremoniously removed them from the board while whistling Taps.
Or the sound effects he provided as he systematically wiped me off the face of the earth, like machine guns blasting and bombs exploding and men gasping their last breaths and blood curdling screaming.
Oh wait. I provided the blood curdling screaming.
I did not speak to Nate for the rest of that day except to inform him in no uncertain terms that if he wanted all of his body parts to stay affixed where God put them, he would never, ever mention this game, let alone ask me to play it. Never. Ever. Again.
Nate’s appendages stayed pretty much intact for the next eleven years until last weekend when he presumably tired of his anatomy. Mentally exhausted from refereeing Zoe’s and Helena’s endless fighting in the car, I left the garage and entered the kitchen to find that he had placed the game in the center of our table. I looked at him in utter shock and watched his mouth open and the words “Who’s up for some Risk?” fly out of it and hang suspended in the air, forcing me to shriek as if someone had slapped a disemboweled woodchuck on my head.
Zoe and Helena were too busy with their incessant bickering in the garage to pay him any attention for which I was so grateful I almost forgot how close I had come to carrying the both of them to the curb and sticking a “For Sale, Buy One, Get One Free” sign in their mouths not two minutes beforehand.
Nate double checked that I had not amputated any of his extremities by wishful thinking and then he called out “Ten bucks to whoever beats me” and pulled two Alexander Hamiltons out of his pocket and waved them in the air, knowing full well that I had given birth to bloodhounds who could sniff a dime out of a landfill and sure enough, they came running into the kitchen at the speed of light, declaring “I go first! I go first!” in concert.
And I yelled OUR GIRLS CANNOT BE BOUGHT, YOU HEATHEN right before whispering a hurried promise of ten dollars if they refused to play and then I waved an IOU hastily scribbled on the back of a receipt for the $0.79 TicTacs I had charged on MasterCard twenty minutes earlier. And the girls promptly forgot all about the uterus that had kept them warm and fed for nine months and wasted no time in throwing their coats on the floor and me under the bus.
I choked on the exhaust for a minute and then crawled out and sat at the table because I could not, in good conscience, lie under mass transit while the fruit of my loins were decimated at the hands of a man who shouts SEE YA, WOULDN’T WANT TO BE YA when he invades South America.
So I took a deep breath, forgave my fruit for their betrayal, and prepared for a massive dose of deja vu.
Except, not really. Because this time, I had a plan. I was older and wise and heavier … wait, that doesn’t matter … and I had two allies, one of whom would give her right arm to be $10 closer to her dream of buying a Verizon phone with unlimited texting and the other who was just grateful she got to stay downstairs because that meant she wasn’t upstairs in time out.
So four of us sat around the table and three of us contemplated our strategy and one of us lined up his troops in even formations and smirked.
After a few minutes, we were ready to enter into battle.
Me (pointing to Nate): OK girls, who is he?
Girls in unison: Axis of Evil.
Me: Who are we?
Girls in unison: NATO
Me: What is our prime objective?
Girls in unison: To rid the world of evil.
Me: I believe I used the phrase wipe up the floor, but that’s close enough.
Nate: Oh, yeah, that’s fair. One against three. Hey, whatever you gotta do. You guys are just setting up yourselves to fail. It’ll be that much sweeter of a victory. I’ll just keep the rules by me, in case there are any questions.
Me: Girls, what do we tell someone when he tries to change the rules mid-game?
Girls in unison: Too bad, so sad.
Me: Yes! OK girls, are we ready?
Girls in unison (shouting): IT’S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG!
Poor Nate. He didn’t even see it coming. It pains me to say that.
Except, not really.
Oh! A casualty. Can we have a moment of silence, please?
Ouch. That’s gonna leave a mark.
BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM. BAM, BAM, BAM, BAM, BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM.
Those would be canons and bombs and machine guns. Remember how deafening Risk is, Nate?
Who knows Taps? Nate? How about giving it a go?
It dragged on for three hours, mostly because NATO felt the need to regroup and review and revamp strategy no less than 87 times, causing the Axis of Evil to shout in protest, tear his hair out and complain endlessly about small alliances, big alliances, alliances of all shapes and sizes and that it’s not fair to launch ridiculous attacks for the sole purpose of gaining ground among an alliance, and how we were living proof that girls don’t know how to play this game, blah blah blah.
I’m pleased to announce that NATO left that table victorious, ten dollars richer, and with a good chunk of redemption.
The Axis of Evil got itself whupped by a bunch of girls.
And let it be known that I did not gloat.
OK, OK, OK, I might have smiled a teensy bit as I handed Nate a silver platter with PLACE YOUR ASS HERE emblazoned on it. I don’t remember exactly.
Except, not really.