There’s something about Americans. We’ve convinced ourselves that we’re The Best.
I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with that. Over the nearly two and a half centuries since we kicked ol’ King George’s tail and turned “the colonies” into the U.S. of A., we’ve developed this winner’s mentality… “We’re No. 1! We’re No. 1!” “Knock that chip off my shoulder! I dare you!”
We saw to it that Good triumphed over Evil in WW’s I and II. Never mind Korea (a truce), Viet Nam (a debacle) and lesser aberrations.
Ol’ Abner Doubleday came up with a bat and ball, so baseball has spread around the world. Of course, lesser folks gained control and players started using big gloves to catch the ball. Those who don’t label it “sissyball” call it beisbol.
That wasn’t enough for ‘Murkins, so this fella named Naismith invented basketball. Then, the rest of the world started catching up in basketball, a la the Olympics, so we began to let our pro hoopsters play in the formerly “amateur” world competition. After all, all those furriners were paying their cagers to “train” year round. If you can do it, we can do it better.
We now allow playfor pay seven footers to frequent our Olympic basketball teams.
US! We won’t allow it!
Then, those sneaky Russians came along and started kicking tail and taking names in chess (that’s glorified checkers with bigger “men”). So, we found Bobby Fisher and ran him in the game. That’ll learn ‘em.
Americans have never been dominant in soccer. So, we invented football. Man up!
Now, we’re talking all-consuming. Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, Sunday 11 a.m. (Hold it, brother!), Sunday night, Monday night.
Is nothing sacred? Well, yeah, Tuesday because everybody needs a day of rest and, well, Wednesday night ‘cause of sumpnother called “prayer meetin’.” That, and fans almost ran out of money so the binniss folks that run sports saw the need to “give” a day or two of “rest” a week.
As a youngster, I participated in school sports, and some after school hours, but I was just an average athlete. So, I decided there had to be a game of some kind where just maybe I could be at least “pretty good.” Our next door neighbor — an older man, retired from the railroad — D.O. Horn had heart disease and diabetes. He had to take it pretty easy, so his entertainment (pre-TV days) was solitaire.
Often, when his wife Myrtle was out of the house (regularly riding her black horse, “Silver”), we’d go sit with Horn. I even watched him give himself a shot of insulin. Sheeesh!
So, I learned “Sol” watching Horn play the game. I suppose he was competitive. He didn’t like losing (who does) and he’d calmly toss out a mild expletive when he lost. “Darn it, Ol’ Sol won again.”
But, Horn was great at remembering what key cards hadn’t shown up and could often identify which facedown pile they were in. Being a bad loser, I couldn’t understand his calm demeanor when Ol’ Sol got the best of him. Playing with a deck of cards, a dishonest person can mess with the order of the cards and just maybe win a little more often. However, watching and listening to Horn, I understood the importance of being honest if you were going to truly test your skill at the lonely, frustrating game.
When I’m trying to write something, like this column for instance, when I get stumped for the right word or phrase, I often abandon the project to play Ol’ Sol on the computer. My iMac has a version called “Burning Monkey Solitaire,” complete with appropriate accompanying graphics and sound. I turn off the sound because it’s such a distraction.
Besides, I WANT TO WIN. Desperately. And, you can’t cheat with the computer version, or at least I don’t know of a way.
WILLIS WEBB is a retired community newspaper publisher of more than 55 years experience. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.