Monday, May 15, 2006

Adrenaline and Redi-Whip: a short story made long.

As I've mentioned before, I'm kind of a competitive person. If I'm given a task with even the slightest suggestion that it may be a contest or competition, I become like a machine: a frighteningly competitive ass-kicking machine. It's probably not healthy, but it's kind of fun, honestly. And it makes me win a lot, so that's a bonus.

I'm not a jerk about it, really. In fact, I often avoid competition with friends and close acquaintances if I'm not sure how they'll react to Robo-Flamingo. But sometimes I'm forced into competitive situations, and then...well....god help everyone.

Case in point:

Last week was the End of the Year Picnic for my tutoring program. Except that the weather was crappy, so our picnic was indoors. In order to keep the kids entertained inside, we hired a clown. All was fine and well until the very end of her clown/magic show. At this point, she requested "grown-up volunteers. We need some teachers up here!"

Now, if you know anything about education, you know that when someone who has been hired to entertain and delight your students asks for adult volunteers, nothing good is going to come of that. If you have the misfortune of being picked, you can be assured that you are about to be publicly humiliated for the amusement of a room full of shrieking children. And there's nothing you can do about it. You can't say "no," because then you're forever labeled "that crabby teacher lady who doesn't like fun."

Knowing all of this, as soon as her call for volunteers came, I tried to shrink as low as possible in my seat and become invisible. I'm not really into clowns, or public humiliation. But thanks to the handful of children near me screaming "Over here! Over here!" and pointing at me, I could not escape the clown's gaze, and my fate was sealed.

Four of us unlucky adults got pulled up front. At that point, the clown announced that we were going to have "a little contest."

I perked up at that.

The clown came around and put a mask on my face. I didn't see what it was at first, but knew it had to be hideous based on the increased decibel level of the amused shrieking in the audience. The other adults were laughing too, until they got their identical and equally hideous masks on their faces. I know the exact moment that my competitive machine kicked in, because I caught myself looking at my colleagues as "the competition," and I caught myself thinking "That's right. Laugh it up now, because I'm going to kick your ass in a minute." At this point, I knew that whatever the contest was, I was going to win it.

The clown gave us all paper plates, and on each plate she put a piece of watermelon bubble gum. Then, to my disgust, and to the delight of all the children in the audience, she covered the gum with a big glob of Redi-Whip. The gist of the contest was that we had to get the gum in our mouths, not using our hands, chew it up and blow a bubble. The first person to blow a bubble that didn't pop would be the winner.

As the clown and her audience full of minions started counting down, my adrenaline started pumping. My brain started powering down unnecessary auxiliary functions. I was ready.

Enter the machine. I braved the Redi-Whip, got the gum and chewed for all I was worth, all the while staring down my competition with a steely glare. There was no way I wasn't going to win. I figured that I looked like a moron anyway. If I didn't win, I'd look like a moron AND be a loser. And THAT just wasn't going to happen. Not on my watch.

And it didn't. Though my worthy foes gave it their best bubble-blowing try, I was victorious. They couldn't touch me. The machine wins again. My students greeted me with high-fives and looks of awe usually reserved for sports heroes and shiny new firetrucks.

And just my luck, someone captured it all on their digital camera. Because this is certainly a look I wouldn't want to forget:

And you thought I was exaggerating about the whole "steely glare" thing:

That's a look of pure competition-inspired contempt. I can't hide it. This is why I don't play poker.


Blogger roxtar said...

You've definitely got "the eye of the tiger." Unfortunately, they gave you "the cheeks of the chipmunk" to go with it.

Clowns. Rat bastards is more like it.

May 16, 2006 3:28 AM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

Rat bastards indeed!

That's one of my all-time favorite insults, too! Kudos.

May 16, 2006 9:45 AM  
Blogger Ian McGibboney said...

You have a look that screams, "I'm going to Reddi-Whip them!"

May 16, 2006 10:20 AM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

That's a good PG-13 version of what was going through my head, yeah.

May 16, 2006 10:34 AM  

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