I am participating in the NaBloPoMo challenge for May. It should be a fun one. It is titled: Play.
Today’s topic is: How did you feel as a child when you lost a game?
As I mentioned in an earlier post, in the Forto/Gibson household there were no points for second place. It was sudden death overtime every day and night, seven days a week, 365. No questions asked. Period.
This competitive edge has helped and haunted me for the last 41 years.
One story to share was dinnertime at the family abode.
My stepdad, Mike, being a U.S. Marine was disciplined. Very disciplined. You have to be to be a part of the nations elite military service. We had weekly inspections every Saturday for our bedrooms. I’m not talking bounce-a-quarter off of the bed sheets, but our rooms had to be in order and things picked up off the floor OR we weren’t allowed to go outside to play. Simple as that.
Back to the story… Mike used to watch the Evening News with Peter Jennings every night on ABC before dinner. My mom, would be slaving away in the kitchen making up the nightly casserole (or whatever) and us boys were itching to eat. We were growing ya know!
Inevitably, every night my brother, Ryan and I, would be sitting at the table a few minutes before 6:30. You could set your watch by it. Thank god daylight savings time didn’t occur at 6:30 in the evening because we were starving!
At 6:30 you would here Peter say, “For everyone at ABC News, I am Peter Jennings. Good Night.”
That was it. It was like Pavlov’s bell. We were salivating! All that food laid out so neatly on the round table in the corner. Every night it was a main course, a side or two, bread and a glass of coke. No milk. Gross.
As Mike would sit down to eat in his chair with the arms. The only chair with arms. He would say just three words. “Dig in, boys!”
That was our cue. It was time to enjoy the fixin’s laid out before us. My mom was still over in the kitchen doing one thing or another as the three of us ate like savages. We consumed our daily food pyramid of viddles quicker that mom could serve it up. I don’t recall her siting down for a hot meal for 15 years.
It became a competition. Whoever came in second would have to do the dishes. I was not having that. Ever.
On nights that I did lose. Usually nights with brussels spouts I was resigned to K.P. duty. That usually meant just loading up the dishwasher. Never pre-washing. Why? It was a dishwasher.
By 6:35-6:40 it would be all over. The ceremony of the family dinner was complete. Even though it was quick and relatively painless, we all made it a point to eat together. That is something that most families don’t do today.
By 7:00 we were back outside playing catch in the back yard or our favorite, wiffle ball with a huge red bat that Mike called “Big Bertha”.
During those evenings outside Mike would talk to us about the importance of doing your best and setting yourself up for success.
I will never forget those nights with my family. I just know I did my best not to lose at dinner because I hated doing the dishes.
And still do today.
Robert Forto is mushin’ down a dream in the wilds of Alaska. He and is wife are raising two teenagers at Forto’s Fort.