Shuffleboard Mortal Combat
This is a story about honor.
Specifically, this is a story about honor lost.
There is a legend in my family that I hold close to my heart. Before I share this legend with you, I should let you know that hyperbole is a big thing in my family, so I am not sure how much of the legend is true. You have been alerted.
The legend takes place in Scranton, Pennsylvania in the mid-1950s, when my grandfather Frank was dating my grandmother Peggy. I like to think that their coal country romance burned a lot like coal itself - white hot and long-lasting, but messy. The legend goes that they were on a date out at a bar - a bar I always picture as super divey - and my grandmother Peggy told my grandfather she wanted to dance on the shuffleboard table. Well, now, there were people playing shuffleboard! But instead of saying, "Peggy, there are people playing. You can't dance on the shuffleboard table," my grandfather went over to the people playing and said, "Get out the way. My girl wants to dance on up on the shuffleboard table." And maybe he threw a punch or two - I don't know, I wasn't there - but lo and behold, grandma Peggy got up on the shuffleboard table and got to dance like there was no one watching (except an entire bar of people wondering who that couple was that hijacked the shuffleboard table).
I never really met my grandparents Frank and Peggy, but ever since hearing that story I feel close to them when I am near a shuffleboard table.
And then the other day, my colleague, Tony Spagnoli, challenged me to a game. Not just any game. No, he challenged me to a game of shuffleboard. You obviously saw this coming.
"You're on, Spagnuts," I told him with a sneer.
The shuffleboard table we played on was weirdly very short. I don't understand why they would manufacture a table this short. It was really difficult to play on. The margin between too hard and too soft was frustratingly narrow (that's what she said....). Our pucks either flew off the board or stopped in the middle, and either way it felt like we were exerting the same amount of force. The other thing you should know is that Tony and I are both theatre-geeks-turned-city-planners. It is possible that we just don't know how to guage our physical exertion unless we are also singing at the same time. But that didn't stop us! We put our whole beings into that shuffleboard game. We started drawing a crowd of spectators. There were bets placed. There were pucks flying. There was shuffleboard sand everywhere. It was getting pretty heated.
Sometimes folks at the office joke that Tony and I are twins. I suppose this harkens back to the theatre-geeks-turned-city-planner similarity. Well, what the heck do you know? After playing on the comically-short shuffleboard table for about 30 minutes, we were neck in neck. I needed to score one more point to win...
...and so did T.
We grabbed our beers, and we went balls to the walls. This was for my grandma! This was in honor of every girl who ever wanted to dance on the shuffleboard table! This was the moment!
It was Tony. That bastard won.
I just want to publically apologize to all the girls who ever wanted to dance on a shuffleboard table. I'll win for you next time.