Have you ever had the "shoe" conversation with your husband/boyfriend/significant other? You know, the one that starts with him looking in your closet and then, turning to you with a look of utter confusion and bewilderment on his face, he asks, "Why does anyone need 17 pairs of black shoes?" That, of course, is when you state the obvious--that some of those are regular shoes (meant to be worn with pants or jeans) and some of those shoes are heels. Then you go on to explain to the sweet, but clueless, man the difference between closed toe, peep toe and open toe shoes; how strappy and slingback mean different things; and that, despite how good the four inch heels make your calves look, some occasions just really call for the two inch heel. Just as you segue into a defense of wearing the heels that have the pointy toe, even though they hurt your feet, because they look absolutely perfect with that outfit, you make eye contact with your Beloved only to become alarmed at the look on his face. His eyes are wide and glazed over and he's mumbling quietly to himself. As you lean in, you hear something that sounds suspiciously like, "You lost me at heels."
I'm quite familiar with that deer-in-the-headlights, comatose look that says, "While I appreciate you trying to explain that to me, it's really not necessary considering I haven't understood a word you've said and I am now hearing the voice of Charlie Brown's teacher coming out of your mouth." That was the look on my face for the majority of the 8 hours I spent at Howdy's first chess tournament last weekend. Don't get me wrong. I love Howdy and am happy to support him in anything he gets fired up about. But I just DON'T. GET. CHESS. For me, chess ranks right up there with Acquire, Settlers of Catan, and Monopoly. They're all games that require forethought and strategy. They're what I call "guy games". You build and plot and create your empire so you can break through your opponent's defenses and rule the world. Total guy stuff. I don't have the slightest interest in any of it and I really don't understand the first thing about chess. I used to look at a chessboard and think, "Ooh, look at the pretty pieces. Hey, is that a pony? I wanna be the pony!" Now I look at a chessboard and think of Twilight. My kids, however, think chess is great (even Sassy, the poor kid). They've challenged me to chess matches but I've had to politely decline. I told them I only knew a little bit about the game and then proceeded to tell them exactly what that little bit was. They all laughed at me. It turns out the object of chess is NOT to capture your opponent's Queen but to capture the King. Huh.
The extent of my chess knowledge can fit on the end of a pencil but chess club is the sum total of my son's junior high social life so we all trooped over to an area school to watch him compete. Howdy vetoed my plans to make posters with his name on them and I was not allowed to make up any chess cheers either. Not only that, but it turns out that the only ones allowed in the room while the kids are competing are the moderators. The parents have to watch through the glass wall. What? How am I supposed to know what's going on? Luckily, depending on which table Howdy was assigned to, I was able to get an occasional glimpse of his matches. But, to be honest, it didn't really mean anything. Anytime he or his opponent made a move, I had to ask MC, "Was that good? Did he just take that boy's Crook? Oh, Rook? Whatever. Did he just lose a horsey one? Does that mean he's in trouble? When he gets to the other end of the board, does he get to say 'King me'? What? Wrong game? Oh. Wait. They're shaking hands. What does that mean? Did he lose? Is he upset? I can't read his expression. I can't take the suspense! For the love of chocolate, will someone please tell me what just happened?" It went on like this through 5 matches. How do you support your kid when you can't watch, you can't cheer and you don't even understand why he's moving his piece halfway across the board. Is that even legal? Can they call traveling on that?
All the non-cheering got a little dull after awhile. It was more exciting when the match was over and Howdy would explain the different openings and moves they used. Chess moves have great names. Howdy learned something at the beginning of the year called the Fried Liver move, and just before the tournament he went online to learn the Leningrad Dutch opening. So once the match was over, Howdy would launch into a play by play about how he opened with the Purple People Eater but then his opponent moved his WD-40 and stole his Prawn or Pawn or whatever it was (at least, that's what I heard). As fascinating as the replays were, by the time the 6th hour rolled around, I was getting a little antsy. So during his final match when Howdy glanced up to where his dad and I were watching him from an upstairs balcony, MC and I managed a quick, football stadium wave just to liven things up a bit. Howdy broke eye contact quickly, no doubt relieved that no one else saw his parents trying to kill him through humiliation. When MC and I realized that we had done it, we had actually done the wave in full view of our son, we high-fived it and bust out laughing at our brilliance.
Howdy ended up winning 2 out of his 5 matches. He was complimented on playing very well, even holding his own against the high school kid who ended up taking first overall. But since I know this was just the first of many tournaments to come, I am currently working on a way to smuggle in pom poms.