Generally, we think of one-upmanship as something relegated to the elementary school yard. “My dad could beat up your dad.” Or in the case of schoolyards around here in the south…”My dad has a bigger beer gut than your dad.” But I’ve been seeing it a lot lately in many other venues…including my youth group at church, where comparing video game scores always seems to take precedence over applying spiritual principles.
Down at the Homeless Shelter where my hubby is the director, one-upmanship takes many forms – - one of the most interesting being that of comparing addictions. “Yeah, I may be an alcoholic, but at least I don’t pop pills like some people around here.” “Oh yeah, well call me a pill popper if you want, but at least I ain’t no crack ho.” The conversation always ends there, because as of right now, there is currently no lower status on the streets than a ‘crack ho.’
My boys aren’t immune either. They feel the need to contend for all sorts of horrific imaginary titles. Stinkiest feet. Greasiest hair. Most palpitating zit. Just listening to them from the next room can bring on an unexpected case of the dry heaves.
Of course you don’t have to look farther than your nearest gossip rag to see competition in its most unhealthy form – - the race to see who can be the thinnest celebrity. Every time I open a magazine, another beautiful girl seems to have wasted away into a shadow of her former self. I picture them all with forks nearing their mouths, and just as they are about to put that mouthful of low-fat tofu in, they spot the cover of Angelina Jolie on Vanity Fair, and put their fork down. “If she can go without food and still save the world, then so can I,” they conclude. Thank heavens for role models!
I’ll admit I’ve been feeling a little left out of the rivalries around me. I look around me for something to brag on, and see the same old stuff I’ve always had. There’s my Tony Bennett CD collection. Who wants to tell the world how utterly old fashioned they are?? My two dogs. So sweet, but utterly dunderheaded. They won’t be getting me into the record books anytime soon, I assure you. I still have my Fisher Price Sesame Street playhouse from the 1970′s. It even has all the chunky little characters – - Ernie, Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird whose circular base fits perfectly into its perch in his little plastic nest. I’m very proud of my keepsake, but if I were to go on Ebay, I imagine I would probably find at least fourteen other SS sets in mint condition. Mine still has the red streaks across the roof from when I went through my experimental nail polish stage. I simply don’t have one thing worth boasting about.
Oh, wait! Maybe there is something! The other day, I tried to figure out how to get a television signal through R-T’s new computer. We had to take the TV out of the bedroom to make room for his new gadget, and I knew we would probably miss falling asleep to the two most monotone local news reporters on earth each night at 11:00. So I decided to figure out a way to make hubby’s snazzy new Vista with Windows Media Center double as our boob tube. I got the TV Tuner hooked up, loaded all the software, and everything was going a-ok until I remembered we dropped our satellite feed. Now what? As usual, I was not to be deterred from my plan. I went out and got a good ole amplified antenna, and plugged it into the tuner. Voila! Our local channels in all their free hi-def glory! I challenge Bill Gates himself to be so techie on so little dime. Anybody out there got one to top that? I double dog dare you….