“For when the One Great Scorer comes
To write against your name,
He marks not that you won or lost
But how you played the game.”
(Mom and Dad’s 13-year-old son arrives home after his football game.)
DAD: Hey, Star, sorry I had to leave early. Had to rush home to take care of job stuff.
SON: It’s OK, Dad.
DAD: You. Were. Great! As always.
DAD: So how bad did you stick it to those losers?
SON: Actually, we lost.
DAD: Excuse me? You’re joking, right?
SON: No. They came back at us in the second half.
DAD: You were up by 13 when I left at halftime.
SON: Stuff happens.
DAD: I don’t want to hear that crap!
MOM: Can’t win ‘em all. Isn’t that what they say?
DAD: Not what I say. Ever. Never.
SON: Sorry, Dad.
DAD: What the hell happened, Sport? The Patriots haven’t lost in, what, three years?
SON: Freddie twisted his ankle on a play-action. Left the game.
DAD: Did some jerk trip him?
SON: I don’t think so.
DAD: Those guys play dirty. That’s the only way they could beat us.
SON: My best friend’s on that team.
DAD: With friends like that… How did the dirty losers come back so strong?
SON: They put in this new kid at QB.
DAD: I didn’t notice any new kid.
SON: They said he just moved here, like two weeks ago.
DAD: Where was he the whole first half?
SON: His dad got lost. Went to the wrong field.
DAD: OK. So ...?
SON: He’s a monster, Dad. Really big and really good.
DAD: How big?
SON: I don’t know. Maybe has four or five inches on the rest of us. Our guys couldn’t stop him for nothin’.
DAD: Something stinks here.
DAD: No way is this 6-foot kid is only 13. Trust me. He could be 15 for all we know.
MOM: Why do you think that?
DAD: We lost, didn’t we? The Patriots never lose. Not with my son behind center. Right, Pal?
SON: Sure, Dad.
DAD: That’s why in school tomorrow the word “lost” won’t come out of your mouth, ya hear me?
SON: Doesn’t matter. Everybody knows the score.
DAD: Wrong! They think they do. The score means nothing.
MOM: What on earth are you doing?
DAD: I’m protecting the honor of our family and the honesty of our football program.This mystery kid from nowhere needs to be outed. I smell a conspiracy.
MOM: In Pop Warner football?
DAD: I wouldn’t put anything past those Hollywood types. Disney, Fox, Warner. They’re all the same.They hate us Patriots.
MOM: I don’t think it’s the same, Warner.
DAD: That’s what they want us to think.
MOM: OK. Good to know.
DAD: You think it’s just a coincidence that this overgrown 13-year-old shows up to humiliate the unbeatable Patriots right after I leave?
MOM: (laughing) What do you have to do with it?
DAD: They know I don’t take no crap from nobody. They were afraid to play him while I was surveilling the area. I would have had him and his old man put in cuffs before that Kid Kong could say, “Hike!”
MOM: Calm down, for goodness’ sake. Cuffs! No crime was committed. You’re going to get an ulcer.
DAD: I don’t get ulcers. I give them.
MOM: Just let it go. Our son needs to learn losing is part of life.
DAD: Not this family’s life. We only win. And then win some more. And when we don’t win, it’s only because somebody cheated us out of winning. That’s how winners keep winning. By crying foul!
MOM: I’m sure this new boy is a legitimate 13. Some kids shoot up at that age.
DAD: Some do, but not this one. I guarantee he’s a fraud.
MOM: Don’t they require some proof of birthdate when you sign up?
DAD: It don’t mean squat. His cutie pie parents probably doctored his birth certificate. Oldest trick in the book.
MOM: You’d have to prove that.
DAD: No problem. Just watch me have this game nullified. Like it never happened.
MOM: Good luck with that.
SON: Can you really do that, Dad?
DAD: Aren’t I a lawyer? I can do anything. I’ll file a lawsuit and ask to have his fraudulent birth certificate exposed by a fraudulent forensics expert. We can afford one of the best to testify under oath in our favor.
SON: Is that fair, though?
DAD: Fair is in the eye of the beholder, Bud. It’s just a silly word. I never pay it much mind. I favor fear. That works much better than fair.
SON: Yes, sir. I just never heard of having a final score changed after the game’s over. That’s sort of weird.
DAD: That’s why America is so great. You can do anything you set your mind to. Winners like us can’t help it if losers lack the courage and integrity to do what’s right for themselves, even when it’s wrong for everybody else. It’s the American Dream... Heads, I win. Tails, you lose. Do unto others before they do it to you. Never forget that, and even when you don’t win, you won’t lose.
SON: By the way, Dad, you know that this was an exhibition game. It doesn’t count.
DAD: You’re damn right it doesn’t. That’s my boy!
Bruce Apar is a writer, actor, consultant, and community volunteer. He can be reached at email@example.com; 914-275-6887.