Thursday, May 18, 2017

Stories of John C. Parsons

John C. Parsons loved his family. Especially on game night.

My dad's competitive streak is legendary on both sides of my family. Any game he played, he HAD to dominate. His Monopoly skills annoyed my mother so much that Monopoly hasn't been voluntarily played in the Parsons household since the 20th Century.

(On the other side of the coin, he and I also never played Sorry again after I drew the best possible card and accidentally beat him one weekend a few years ago. Mom high-fived me for that one.)

My cousin Winston once told me a story about how Dad hustled him at tennis. Dad took Winston to a tennis court and claimed to be "out of practice" and "it'd been a few years," so go easy on your old uncle, please, Winston?

They got onto the court. Dad proceeded to serve a smoking ace past Winston, who'd had barely enough time to react.

"Fifteen-love," said Dad, stony-faced.

Dad wasn't this way out of malicious intent. It's just how he was. But he frequently made fun of it, and so did everyone else.

I remember my grandfather -- my dad's father-in-law -- calling Dad out during a game of Taboo back in the mid-nineties. The game has a buzzer, and the rules state that, in addition to the forbidden words with each clue, you can't use sign language or hand signals to help your teammates guess the secret word. If you do, you get buzzed out.

Dad, being a naturally animated person, began describing his secret word, and made a couple of broad "you know" gestures with his hands.

Opa immediately hit the buzzer repeatedly.

"Ah ah ah!" exclaimed Opa. "No hand signals! Cheating!"

"They're not hand signals!" exclaimed Dad, still gesturing. "It's just how I talk!"

"It's cheating!" exclaimed Opa, still pressing the buzzer.

One night about a decade ago, while a bunch of my cousins were in town, we all gathered at my grandmother's house to socialize and play and whatnot.

Someone got out Trivial Pursuit. We divided up into teams. And Dad got straight into competition mode.

Trivial Pursuit has these little gray spaces in the outer ring called "Roll Again." They're spaced three or four spaces from each other, and five or two spaces from a pie slice space; therefore, if you got a good roll, you could either go to another Roll Again, or get a slice of pie.

Dad got onto one of the Roll Again spaces during our game.

"Five or two!" he exclaimed, rattling the die in his hand. "Five or two!"

He rolled, and almost immediately picked the die back up.

"Roll Again!" he exclaimed. "Five or two! Five or two!"

He rolled again, and almost immediately picked the die back up.

"Roll Again!" he exclaimed. "Five or two! Five or two!"

And so on. After doing this a few times, Winston piped up.

"WE CAN'T EVEN SEE WHAT YOU'RE ROLLING!" exclaimed Winston. "How in the world do we know what you're rolling when we can't even SEE it? 'Five or two! Pick up the dice! Roll again! Five or two!' How can we TRUST you, John?"

Dad would have protested, had he not been howling with laughter.