While traveling on a road trip across the US last year, my friends Ty, Chris, and I ended up staying at a hotel that had two beautiful double beds cordoned off in private rooms, and one thin piece of felt spread over a hard metal frame in the middle of the common area. Clearly, there were two good places to sleep and one joke of a pull-out bed that came with a free Day Full Of Back Pain at no extra charge. So we stood in the front hallway and surveyed the situation, bags in hand, stern looks on our faces. We knew decisions needed to be made, and quick. After sleeping in basements and on motel floors for a week, we all finally had a chance at getting a good night’s sleep. We had to settle it.
Well, first of all, we ended up giving Chris one of the rooms, since he actually found the place and we were driving his car. It was a gift and Chris took it immediately, without a word, leaving Ty and I to fight over the remaining room. Well, we were through being nice guys. We both wanted that room bad. So we agreed to settle it the only way we knew how — with a long, drawn out best-of-seven Rock-Paper-Scissors war.
Quickly, we took care of logistics. We agreed to ‘shoot’ on the count of three instead of right after it. Any double-clutching would be interpreted as a rock, no questions asked. We ruled out celebrating each win with the ceremonial action move, where you snip your scissor-fingers across their palm-paper or smash their scissor-fingers with your rock-fist. No need for any of that gloating. And lastly, we of course made doubly sure that it was a best of seven. Nothing more, nothing less, and no extensions. Whoever got four wins first got the good bed and that was that.
With that we dropped our bags, steadied our fists in front of us, and sized each other up, cracking our necks and loosening our shoulders for the big game.
And so it began.
I opened with rock, soundly shattering Ty’s flimsy scissors. Ty then countered with scissors again, falling immediately once more to my sturdy rock. Then Ty switched gears to paper, but I was ready, this time employing his very own scissors to slice him to bits. Down 3-0 in a flash, Ty called for a quick pause. “I need to think,” he said. And I’ll never forget it. He looked me square in the eye for a moment, squinted a bit, laughed, then said “Alright, I’m ready.” The next three rounds were a nightmarish blur — his paper smothered my rock, his scissors snipped my paper, there were a couple of draws, and then he completed the comeback with a fateful suffocating of my once-sturdy rock with his murderous sheet of airtight paper.
He had quickly tied it up with that move and so it all came down to the final toss. Before we threw our fists I peeked behind me at the open bedroom door, the setting sun casting warm shadows across the shiny, silk bedspread, a flatscreen TV propped up on the wood dresser, a little loot bag of mini toiletries laying across the fluffy pillows. I looked and I dreamed and I drew…
“And a one, two, three!”
Ty took it with a quick slice of the scissors. I was left holding my open palm in my hands, wondering why I didn’t go back to my faithful old rock. I could have shattered his scissors to smithereens, and I would have, too. I could have, too. But it never happened.
Ty retreated gleefully to the private bedroom, slamming the door shut hard, sealing my mind-boggling loss with a brain-piercing bang. And so it was. Of course, I couldn’t sleep that night. And it wasn’t just because of the metal prongs stabbing my kidneys. It was because of the way I went down.
But I can’t blame the game. No, Rock-Paper-Scissors was there, settling an undebateable debate. It answered our big question, shutting the lid, closing the door, sealing the deal. You can’t argue with Rock-Paper-Scissors. When it’s over, it’s really over. Sure, you can beg for that extension, but the victor never needs to take your bait. They played by the rules and they won.
Rock-Paper-Scissors helps you decide between pepperoni or sausage, the freeway or the back roads, the drive home or the sleep home. It answers the little daily decisions that freeze us up. Which team starts the game? Who gets to shower first? Who pays for pizza? And who gets to change baby’s diaper?
These are all tough, challenging questions. And they are all easily settled once and for all with a quick game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. But if you do enter the arena, then take my advice.
Just go for two out of three.