qotd: the big winner

Have you ever won anything at a carnival, arcade or midway game?

This question reminded me of a funny story about my sister. She was quite into winning things at carnival games. It started with fish. I think they banned this game several years back, but essentially they would set out about a hundred little fish bowls and people would try and toss in ping-pong balls. It sounds pretty simple, but it isn't. Fish bowls have rims, and usually your ping-pong ball would go bouncing all over the place because of them.

I am not sure how she figured it out, but there was one carnival where she came home with at least three gold fish. I think the guy may have paid her to go away. Of course we didn't have a fish tank. And the fish died not too long afterward.

From fish she moved on to large stuffed animals – yes the really LARGE ones. For this goal she somehow mastered a ball game of a different sort. You were given five balls and you had to roll them into a numbered slot. The goal was to have the total add up to either below a certain number (7?), or over a certain number (21?). She decided to go for under the number, and quickly returned with a giant stuffed St. Bernard dog complete with little barrel around his neck.

Of course this was quite early in the day, and she wanted nothing to do with carrying the thing around. Even better, was what was waiting for us out in the parking lot – my mom's Fiat spider convertible. This was the car we agreed was a good family vehicle when my mom went shopping for a new car – her expectation was a Volvo. That's a whole other story.

After a very long day at the L.A. County Fair, my mom and her boyfriend let the two of us (11 and 12-year olds) climb back into the backseat and then scrunched the stuffed dog between us. Of course the top was down, and the ride back from Pomona to Long Beach wasn't exactly down the block. Any hint of complaint or whining, and we knew that the dog would be tossed. The only good thing about the dog was that he did provide a bit of warmth from the chill in the wind.

Despite all of this, my sister continued to win these large stuffed animals every chance she got. She never learned. I don't exactly remember what happened to them, but I suspect they 'got lost' in one of the moves. I don't think my sister really cared. She never had an attachment to them once they were in our bedroom. I think it really was just the thrill of winning and proving she could do something that the rest of us (especially me) could not. Ah, good old sibling rivalry.

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