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Sunday, January 6, 2013

"I Was Having Fun Until..."

Leave four and you're an...
Here in the south, there is a restaurant that, over the years, has gotten real popular. It is called, "The Cracker Barrel." I don't think any exist in California, which is why I am prefacing this article. The restaurant is a corporate one, but with a down home country feel. It's gimmick, if that is what one would want to call it, is a combination country style porch with rocking chairs, and over sized checkers board atop wooden barrels, a general store with all kinds country knickknacks and patti-wack and a restaurant.

Most of their food is rather safe and nondescript. Country fried steak with biscuits and gravy is a local favorite, but their breakfasts are incredible and quite filling. While enjoying the early morning food fest, I'll buy a USAToday or bring the local rag to catch up on the latest news, but if I don't or I forget to bring a newspaper from home, there is a fun triangular board game to pass the time. It is a combination of checkers and tic tac toe.

The basic premise of the game is to find a way to jump one peg with one move until all but one of the pegs is left. Like checkers, you can double jump pegs to help you acquire as many of the pegs as possible before there is no longer any more pegs to legally jump or no more moves to allow you to make another jump.

If you leave only one peg, you''re considered a genius.

If you leave two, you're considered pretty good.

If you leave three, you're average and if you've left four or more pegs, you're an idiot!

It was fun. I got pretty good at being, at least, not an idiot. It was all good just like my pecan pancakes with two over easy eggs and a slab of sugar cured honey ham. That is, until one day, one of the waitresses told me what the secret to winning the game almost every time was. The game is based off of the game of baseball! 

Can you believe that? My favorite sport... wow! 

Apparently, your first move is one jump like a single hit and then the next move should be a double jump which means you've now picked up three pegs with just two moves. So, by the time you hit your home run, by natural progression, you should have almost all of the pegs picked up leaving only one, or two pegs left, which would make you a genius... or at the very least, batting three hundred and on your way to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

And now, armed with the secret to unbridled success, I've yet to come out on the winning side of being idiotic! Now, the little blue triangle with the multi-colored pegs is my nemesis. It haunts and taunts me the whole time I'm eating breakfast daring me to, once again, make a fool of myself. It's no use trying to ignore the baseball form of winning by playing the game the way I used to. Even if, somehow, I accidentally attain genius status, it is but a hollow victory.

I feel there's a lesson to be learned here though I'm not sure what it exactly is. Maybe, it is about the cost of winning at all costs. Maybe, it is about appreciating what one has instead of greedily longing for more. Maybe, I missed a signal like a bunt or a sac fly? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was perfectly happy playing the game"incorrectly" idly frittering away the moments while waiting for my meal and winning occasionally!

I was perfectly happy until that woman tempted me with breakfast and her insider information. Who was she and why did she care about my winning or losing? What was in it for her? A bigger tip?

Come to think of it, I've been to that Cracker Barrel many times for breakfast since then and I've yet to see her.

Maybe she was Beelzebub! A devil in disguise! An evil presence in waitress clothing! Then again, maybe, she was just a fan of baseball!

I am sure of one thing. I will never play this game the same way I used to!

Copyright 2013/ Ben Bensen III