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The Quiet Game
In our family we enjoy our time off from the stress and worries during the year. Summer is freedom and we enjoy pretty much every minute we can get. As with most families we usually take little family trips to various locations to get away from the monotony of living in one place. The only problem is, most of our relatives reside where my parents grew up, Michigan. This would mean 15 hour car rides with three kids crammed in the backseat whose idea of fun was attempting to figure out if a magnifying glass could light a car seat on fire and what happens when you combine a Wendy’s frosty with a Mcdonald’s milkshake (I always believed it would cause some rift in the time space continuum).
The three of us would enjoy getting into trouble as we attempted to entertain ourselves. My sister was always the older, mature one and would have to break up the madness which my brother and I had created. Our pastime was spitting out the passenger window and trying to get it to fly back in the car and hit whoever was in the backseat. Much to the chagrin of my parents this sometime actually worked and would tickle us with laugher for hours until someone, after deciding they did not wish to have gobs of saliva sprayed on them anymore, would pick a fight and ruin the mood.
Before my brother was entered into my family due to his being discovered in the dumpster nearby our house it was just my sister and I on these long trips. Things usually were not so crazy back then because she would just sit there quietly and read books while I annoyed my parents with endless questions about life and all of it’s mysteries. Around this time was when my parents found the holy grail of getting kids to shut up: The Quiet Game. This (designed by the devil) game would be a staple in our household for many years. For those who have not played it, the Quiet Game is where one parent, after many hours of having to deal with screaming children, proclaims, “I bet I can stay quiet longer than you!” When presented with this unique challenge I would raise my eyebrows in interest. I already could spit the farthest, laugh the loudest, and eat the quickest; I knew I could be champion of yet another skill. These games went on for a couple years until I figured out it was just a ploy to get me to shut my mouth. But for those few years my parents enjoyed peace and quiet through the long day’s drive.
When I was around 8 years old, on the playground, one of my buddies and I were discussing how we were both champs of the quiet game. After one of these proclamations one of our other friends, Jerry Gonslick, walked up and said, “My brother is actually the best at that game”. My buddy and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes at the newcomer.
“Jerry, I don’t think you understand. Me and Ben are the BEST at the quiet game. Your brother is not even close,” said my pal as we laughed at the thought. But sure enough we could not sway this kid’s opinion.
Then one day we were over at this same dummy’s house and he brought in his brother to get us to put our money where our mouth was. He proclaimed the loser would have to tell Jessica Crossfield, the fattest and meanest girl in our grade, that we liked her a whole lot and wanted to be her boyfriends. We both smirked at the thought as the game begun. We sat there, quiet as Nationals park in October, as the dork kept a running clock. After about a half hour my pal and I began to get restless. This was a very long time for an 8 year old and we were both getting bored but we could not let the other kid be right. So we sat at little Jerry Gonslick’s house for two straight hours, not saying a word. Our parents eventually came to pick us up so we had to break the silence as we left. “Wow Jerry, your brother is pretty good at this game,” we sheepishly admitted as we walked to the car, hanging our heads, terrified at the prospect of talking to Jessica the next day. As we rode home I mentioned to my mother Jerry’s brother’s great skill at the quiet game. She just nodded in that “I’m not really listening” way and we rode the rest of the way home in silence (no pun intended).
The next day at school we had to fulfill our end of the bet. Let’s just say Jessica was so happy that she probably went straight home to eat four bags of Doritos. We walked around the playground in shame as everyone pointed and laughed at the new boyfriends of Jessica Crossfield. Jerry was all smiles as he continued to remind us throughout the day that he told us so and we should never doubt him again. He also mentioned that he had heard that Rachel, one of the prettiest girls in our grade, was going to ask to be my girlfriend but after she heard I was now Jessica’s she decided against it. “Too bad,” he said as he went to go play on the swing.
“My life is now officially awful,” I declared as I sipped on my juicebox, slumped over the slide. “I’m dating a whale, the most beautiful woman on earth left me, and I lost a bet to flipping Jerry Gonslick. Shoot me”.
My friend nodded his head, “You’re right. Rachel is really pretty. Hey do you think I have a chance? I mean you can keep Jessica, I don’t really want her, she’s more your type”.
I just glared at him and went through the rest of the school day in a haze. When I got home my mother noticed my unhappiness and I told her of my woes. She looked at me and laughed as she fixed my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “That was a pretty dumb bet to make, Ben”.
“And why would that be dear mother? I thought I could win,” I mumbled munching on goldfish.
“Because silly, didn’t you know that Jerry’s brother is a mute? That means he can’t talk”.
I forever hated Jerry Gonslick