If one were to say that Tom is competitive it would be a vast understatement. Moreover, Tom has a sound ego to go with his gung ho nature such that if he were to lose at anything, there would be an explanation in his mind to account for it. I do not share such traits with Tom, so much so that when we were in law school, we’d both walk out of the same exam with infinitely different takes on how we each did. Tom would pronounce that he was sure that he scored somewhere in the high 90s (not an easy grade to get on a law school exam). I’d be sure I’d failed. And somehow or other we’d both end up doing very well, with one of us typically scoring within a point or two of the other. When all was said and done, on the day our final law school grades were announced, one of us had an overall GPA that was slightly above the other. I won’t tell you whose was the highest, but Tom could account for it by explaining that my GPA was boosted by the semester’s worth of “easy 90s” grades I earned as one of a handful of students selected for the Hobbs Trial Advocacy Program and at my (hard-earned and widely sought-after) Los Angeles District Attorney certified law clerk position. Apparently competitive natures run in Tom's family.
Tom’s competitive streak also plays out around the house and during family activities. Hardly a game of Monopoly has ever been played in our house that we haven’t had to ring up Antonin Scalia for an interpretation of the rules. Don’t bother trying to float the notion with Tom that the game is supposed to be played – with our children – for fun. His response: “But it isn’t fun if you aren’t playing by the rules.” And so it was last year we were handed, by Tom, a tagline by which we could forevermore label his competitiveness in any situation, and, as it turned out, ours too. It happened on a family outing at Legoland, at which there is an attraction called the Fun Town Fire Academy. This “ride” features hand-pump-powered LEGO® fire trucks operated by the riders who must race the other trucks up and back across a straightaway, in the middle of which the riders jump out to pump water to put out a “burning” building. It was in line for this ride that Tom began to strategize with Adam and to coach Kristen as to just how they would approach winning the race. Tom and Adam were to go hard and fast on opposite sides of the two-person pump. Kristen was to note which way the doors opened by observing the ride then in progress, and when their truck arrived at the burning building, she was to deftly open the doors providing an advantage to Tom and Adam so that they could exit to the water pump faster than their competitors. Kristen was also to operate the direction lever, leaving Tom and Adam to focus solely on pumping hard and fast. Laura was to “drive” by operating the faux steering wheel; this would keep her occupied and out of the way. I was to stay behind and photograph the event to post in my future blog.
When it was their turn, everyone boarded the truck. The bell rang and they were off. Tom et al. came in first at the burning building. They exited the vehicle. The "fire" was doused. They re-boarded the truck and assumed their previously assigned positions. Tom and Adam pumped furiously back to the finish line, and as they approached Tom could be heard shouting victoriously, "Domination!" Tom et al. got to the finish line first by a comfortable margin. It was then and there, amidst the sad eyes of the small children and the weary eyes of their parents on the losing trucks, that Tom threw his arms up in a victory pose and again shouted loud enough for everyone from Oceanside to La Jolla to hear, “Domination!” Then, savoring his win for but a moment, Tom looked out across the playing field and threw up his arms a second time in celebration of his victory. Kristen was so irritated with Tom for his behavior in front of all the little children who'd lost, and for pushing past her when she didn’t open the doors fast enough at the burning building, that she barely spoke to him the rest of the day. I caught the race on video; turn up the speaker volume and you'll hear "Domination!" for yourself:
Fast forward to our annual end-of-summer trip to Disneyland which took place last Friday. For the last two years we have opened and closed the park, which was no small feat this year as Disneyland was open on Friday from 9 A.M. until midnight. It being a work day, Tom was unable to join us as he had a lot of catch-up work to do having spent the week before on our family vacation to Bruin Woods (more on this in an upcoming post). There have been some changes at Disneyland since the year before, such as the refurbished Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, complete with Captain Jack Sparrow. (Be still my heart! Yeah, I know that flash photography is not allowed and that it was just an Animatron, but still.)
And Mickey ears got a new look too. (Note the earring in the left ear.)
During our 2005 end-of-summer visit we noticed that some of the attractions had added features such as a golden tea cup, a golden Autopia car, a golden Storybook Land boat, and so forth, in honor of Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary celebration. Although 2006 marks year fifty-one, the golden attraction features were still in place because Disneyland's 50th Anniversary celebration is scheduled to last eighteen months. °o° Laura noticed that there was a golden Dumbo while she waited in line, and when the Disneyland Cast Member let her and Adam through the gate, she was the first child to it. Tom was so proud when he heard about it.
At King Arthur’s Carousel in Fantasyland, Laura pointed out that there was a golden horse, and said that she hoped when it was her turn she’d get to it first. Yet it was Kristen who sounded the alert and rallied the troops. She directed, “Adam, when the gates open, you run to the gold horse and save it for Laura.” As the ride before ours came to an end, Kristen and Adam watched as the carousel slowed to see where the golden horse stopped. They positioned themselves and Laura in front of the gate, and prepared to run in the appropriate direction. I was ready with my camera. Then the Disneyland Cast Member opened the gate immediately next to the gate at which we stood, but left ours closed as she returned to her post. Faster than I’ve ever seen her move in her almost twenty-two years, Kristen pushed past Adam, Laura, and the rest of the crowd. Before I could blink, she was through the open gate. She raced to the golden horse and got to it first. Kristen threw her arm across the golden saddle to reserve it for Laura, turned back to us, and with a twinkle in her eye shouted, “Domination!”
1 year ago